Cats Purring and Biting: Why it Happens and What to Do

A cat’s purr typically indicates in-moment contentment. However, your cat can change its mind and become aggressive while purring. There are several reasons for this purring and biting behavior.

Your cat could be purring and biting due to overstimulation, illness, or it is self-soothing. This behavior is also associated with love bites. If your cat purrs and bites too often and aggressively, you can train it to stop the behavior before it gets out of hand.

This article will uncover the reasons why your cat purrs and bites. It will also explain how to combat this behavior.


Reasons Why Cats Purr and Bite at the Same Time


1) Your Cat is Overstimulated

If your cat bites you during a purring-petting session without any provocation, it may be because it has had enough of petting.

Cats dislike being petted after they have had enough.

When your cat becomes overstimulated, it will try to signal you to stop. It will communicate its displeasure through its body language. And if you persist, your furry friend will turn an affectionate love bite into a real bite to stop you from further petting.

Continued petting, even when your cat signals it wants you to stop, makes you a transgressor.

As a cat parent, it is vital to learn your cat’s body language to avoid frequent nips. As you pet your feline, look at its eyes and ears for signals of an impending bite. Watch for dilated eyes and airplane ears.

It is crucial to respect your cat’s emotional state. When it wants you to stop, you should, and when it is ready for more affection, it will come back for some and act as if nothing happened.


2) It is Showing You Affection

Love bites are the type of bites you get during a playing session. These bites go hand in hand with purring, and they mean that your cat is happy and content.

Cats bite members of their family out of affection, and since your cat considers you part of its family, it will playfully give you a nip or two.

These bites don’t usually break the skin as they are meant to be friendly bites, and your cat has no intention of hurting you. Although your feline friend wants only to graze your skin, sometimes it may get excited and bite hard, breaking the skin.

Unfortunately, aggressive love bites can grow into a bad habit. Discourage such bites by stopping play and withdrawing your hand. Your cat will continue purring and stay close to you even after you withdraw your hand. But it will recognize your displeasure at the bite and refrain from biting again.


3) Your Cat May Be Sick

Purring is a self-soothing behavior that may be accompanied by biting when your cat doesn’t want you to touch it. The aggression is meant to deter you from touching the sensitive, painful spot, while the purring helps the cat to stay calm during pain.

If your cat is purring and biting and you cannot pinpoint the reason, consider taking it to the vet for a wellness checkup.

Check your cat for lethargy, unexplained weight loss, and behavioral changes. For example, your furry friend may also exhibit frequent episodes of unprovoked aggression at any time. In such a case, your cat is redirecting its aggression towards you since it cannot attack the source of its pain, and the illness is the source of that pain.

Ear mites, dental problems, and urinary tract infections are some of the problems that can affect a cat’s personality.

When your cat is sick, it will purr continuously, and its bite will be hard enough to break skin. These two behaviors go hand in hand as your cat tries to soothe and protect itself due to pain, anxiety, or fear. And as a natural instinct, biting follows because an angry or frightened cat will bite in self-preservation.


4) Your Cat Is Marking Its Territory

Most cats are territorial and dislike it when new animals or humans invade their space. Your cat may try to calm itself down by purring but eventually, it will bite to protest the invasion.

Some cats are known to take it out on their owners by biting them when upset. In this case, a cat will snap at its owner in a case of redirected aggression.

Sometimes your cat sees you as an equal, so it may become aggressive because it feels like it is competing for resources with you. For example, it may be territorial over a couch, bed, or a person when you are using the same space. That’s when your cat bites you.

In this case, your cat is trying to dominate you.


When to Expect Purring and Biting

When a Queen is Nursing

When your queen has a litter of kittens, it tends to become very protective. Your cat may purr to soothe its little ones as they nurse and bite you when you come close because it is not sure of your intentions.

It is always best to avoid a space where a mother cat is nursing its young. Queens are very protective of their little ones, and they will attack when they perceive any danger.


When Kittens are Playing

Kittens are playful and curious. Nothing is off-limits for these little balls of energy. So, you can expect an unintended hard bite as your kitten becomes more and more excited while playing.

And all the while, it is purring with happiness and contentment.

Kittens will not only bite you but also their siblings. This is how they test boundaries, learn social skills, and establish dominance.

The good news is that a kitten can be trained not to bite during play when it is still young. It is much harder to train an adult/senior cat not to bite during playtime than a kitten.


A Cat Bites When A Cat is Agitated

The first thing a cat does when it is afraid, anxious, or stressed is to purr. Next, it will look for a way out, and if there is none, it will become aggressive in self-defense. Aggression is in the form of biting, scratching, and hissing.

When your cat purrs and bites while appearing agitated, look for the trigger in the room or environment. Once you remove the trigger, your furry buddy will go back to being happy and at peace.

Keep in mind kittens are also very quickly frightened because everything is strange to them. For example, if you bring a new kitten into your home and there is another pet, your kitten will purr to soothe itself, and it may also bite or scratch you when you approach it.


Recognizing Signs You Are Just About To Be Bitten

  • When you are petting the cat, observe its body language changes. You can see its ears and tail become more alert as it vocalizes, and its mood changes from being relaxed to being tense.
  • Airplane ears are a sure sign that you should stop petting your cat. The back of the ears shift slightly, rotating the pinna forward, and the hackles go up. That means your cat is unhappy, and it is time to keep off.
  • If your cat keeps following your every movement and its eyes are slits, stop moving your hand and leave your kitty alone.
  • A hunting posture or an alert stance is a warning that the cat is about to pounce. The hunting posture is where your cat crouching and moving backward in readiness to pounce.
  • When a cat arches its back, it’s telling you to let it be.
  • A stiff tail lowered down or held straight down to the ground is your cat politely telling you to keep off.
  • Your cat may become very vocal, which includes growling, howling, and yowling. Ignoring your feline in this situation will earn you a bite.
  • if you notice that your cat doesn’t like certain places and you keep taking it there, you are piling on the anxiety and your cat will react. Be considerate of the environment. For example,


Understand Your Cats Likes and Dislikes

Petting strengthens the bond between a cat and its owner. It is beneficial for both parties and is an enjoyable experience, which should never be discarded for whatever reason. You just need to be on the same page with your cat and let it take the lead.

Study its behavior when petting so that you can take note of its patterns. Does your cat prefer to be stroked briefly? Does it bite after prolonged petting? If yes, make the petting even shorter and observe if it works.

If you stop sooner than expected, the cat may demand more by nudging your hand. That means your cat is in control of how much petting it can take.

As it should.

Learn the specific areas your cat likes to be stroked. And make sure the stroking is confined to those areas. Cat experts recommend petting a cat around the head, base of ears, cheeks, and under the chin. The no-go zones include the stomach area, tail, and back.

A cat with a calm temperament will stop purring, get up, and walk away without biting you even if you persist in touching the no-go areas. Feisty cats, on the other hand, try to get away, and may bite if they can’t get a way out. Not all cats will become aggressive when agitated.

Never ruffle a cat’s fur; Felines like their fur sleek and clean, and they prefer gentle finger strokes instead of rough, hard ruffling. A gentle touch has a magical effect.

Play along with your cat’s preference for relaxing time. Allow it to come to you rather than carrying it. Also, take note of the specific times of the day your furry friend likes to be petted. Above all, make sure the mood is right, and your cat is happy to interact with you.

A cat that is not ready to spend time with the owner can be enticed with a few treats, and gradually the bonding develops into a habit. But do not make a habit of giving your kitty treats every time you want to pet or cuddle it. Let your interaction be organic.


Five Things To do If Your Cat Bites You

  1. Begin by washing the wound to clean off any blood and saliva. Use some soap and water to clean the wound. That enables you to see the extent of the wound. But ensure that you do not wash or clean the wound with any chemicals. Plain soap and water will suffice until you see a doctor.
  2. Apply pressure to the wound to stop any bleeding and wrap it up with a clean towel or cloth.
  3. Keep the wounded area elevated above your heart. Elevating the wound keeps the swelling down until you get to a medical professional.
  4. Go to the ER as soon as possible to get treatment for the bite. The doctor is going to check the severity of the wound. Unfortunately, your feline’s sharp teeth may puncture your skin and deposit bacteria under it. If their teeth sank into your flesh, your doctor will be concerned about the numerous bacteria present in a cat’s mouth that may result in a severe infection known as cellulitis.

Even if the bite looks small, ensure that you go to the ER because if it remains untreated, the cellulitis can get out of hand and result in blood poisoning, also known as septicemia.

5. Make arrangements to train your cat to deter any biting behavior.



Purring and biting can be harmless behavior, but sometimes it may be due to a more sinister underlying issue. Sometimes it means that there is an underlying medical condition, and other times it shows that your cat requires behavioral training.

If your cat bites you accidentally (or intentionally), do not ignore the bite. Cat bites can be fatal if left untreated. All it takes is a doctor looking at the bite to ascertain how bad it is, cleaning and dressing the wound, and prescribing antibiotics. That is as easy as it gets.

Writer: Mercy Nandika Amatieku

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