Why does a cat nibble my hand?

A cat of my acquaintance, who I see on my way to & from work, sometimes gently nibbles my hand when I pet him. If I stroke his head or hold my hand there, he rubs against it, and sometimes incorporates a 'nibble' where he opens his mouth and gently pushes his teeth down briefly on my hand. Also, he comes running up to me when he sees me, sometimes even running after me if I haven't seen him first - so does he actually recognise me? I don't see him do this with other passers-by.
16:20 Wed 27th Feb 2008
 
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I believe the cat loves you and he nibbles your hand because he wants to play, when my cats did that, they wanted to play, or they were hungry. I honestly think that he does recognize you and knows that you are no harm to him, cats are amazing animals and can sense when someone wants to harm or be nice, so I think you have a friend on your hands.
It sounds as if you have a friend. Most cats will only approach you like this if they feel safe. He will recognise you - and your scent.

He will be rubbing his cheek scent glands against your hand to mark you as his. It's just a cat thing.

Take it as a compliment.


I agree with all that. He obviously feels comfortable with you.
My tom cat used to nibble like that but the 2 she-cats I have now don't do it so perhaps it's a male thing!
The females do it too. My mother-cat does it to my Mum, but not me, and my daughter-cat likes to chew my elbow - nowhere else, just my elbow!
my cats do that we just say 'their greedy for strokes!'
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Yes, I agree that you've made a friend there Jim, as it's a sign of genuine affection. You should feel honoured that he singles you out!
One of my cats, Lizzie, likes to lick and nibble especially when she's feeling sleepy and contented. When she was a kitten she liked to lie on my daughter's shoulder and suck and nibble on her ear-lobe. Never lasted long though as it sent my daughter into fits of giggles!
Reading the posts here took me back a few years.
Our last cat was a big neutered tom (about 14lbs) which was the Alpha male of the immediate area and was an 'unholy terror' to anything that moved without his express permission!

He formed an immediate bond with my younger son (now 30, not so young) which lasted until the day he died of old age. They became in my opinion 'soulmates' each knowing exactly what the other was doing at all times. At times it was quite amazing.

Very often, whilst my son was watching TV lying on the floor on a bean bag the cat would come up behind him and start grooming his hair, quite forcefully at times. If my son 'dared' to move his head the cat would put both paws on his head and move it back. If he moved his head again the cat would would give him a 'whack' around the ears to make him keep still! It was hilarious to watch, by the end of the grooming session my sons hair would be sticking up all over and my son would have to go and have a shampoo.

The cat was adamant he could go anywhere with my son even to the point of getting on a 'bus' when he went to college. He was also always aware of when my son was coming home, by moving up onto the windowsill when he was about 5 minutes away.

The 'bond' they had was simply awe inspiring. My son now lives and works in Bangkok Thailand, but he would not leave home until the cat died, because he believed it was not the right thing to do.

When the cat died he wrote in his diary
"This is the worst day of my life, Snoopy died"
SlackAlice that was a nice story about your son and his cat. It is normal to hear stories like this about dogs, but never heard of 'one boy and his cat'.

Cats are pretty complicated animals - but they are never boring and you just never know what is going on in that little brain of theirs - just as well probably.

Have you seen your friend lately JimT ?
What lovely stories about all your cats! JimT, my Cassie (female, tortie aged 10) has always nibbled my fingers. The late Mr K used to say that if it was possible for a cat to really love a human, then Cassie loved me. I absolutely adore her and she knows it! Her sister, though, has a completely different character - she stands on her hind legs, like a little meerkat, and "chirps". She hasn't meowed for years.
I've always known that type of nibbling cats sometimes do as a 'love bite'. Its a sign of affection, the cat is saying that it trust sand likes you. Our cat who we lost recently, sometimes used to nip the side of your hand while being stroked, not is a nasty way but more of an affection thing.
Question Author
Thanks for your responses everyone - I thought it must be a sign of trust & affection but wanted to check. I've really enjoyed all your stories, SlackAlice's was very touching.

Yes I've seen him quite recently, most days in fact. My partner was so taken with my descriptions of him, that even on Saturdays we take a slight detour so she can see him too. One time, we were both crouched there stroking him, when he suddenly turned and walked purposefully over to my partner, looking right in her eyes, then reared up and rested his paws on her knees, sniffing up towards her face and looking her right in the eyes the whole time, then tentatively tapping his paw on her chest - almost as though he was checking her out, wanting to be friends as she was with his established friend (me).

He doesn't have a name tag but I've named him Arnold, as it somehow seems to suit him. Nearby, I also made friends with a female silver tabby who's very affectionate - she even once jumped up on my leg as I crouched down to stroke her, rested her paws on my shoulder and sniffed all over my face, purring. There are a lot of cats there - I twice saw a very unusual-looking one, almost milk-chocolate coloured (bordering on Caramac!), quite friendly, with a name tag that amusingly said 'Hampton'.
Hello, this behavior is a sign of affection, they want you to know they you are being loved, hence the nibble or small bite action. I have a white tom who has been fixed he is always with me no matter where in the house I am. In bed he is under my arm, restroom...he goes too, when I go he goes...lol. I find this funny. At the computer he feels the screen is getting more attention and this is unacceptable so he will slowly get on my lap put his paws up like ke is ready to type ans start at the computer, he coos like a dove. I used to find this annoying during finals, but now It has become normal. Mr. Spookey is an amazing animal, we had a 6 week old puppy he to over watching and would not let him get near the edge of the couch so he could fall, friends and family could not believe how affectionate he was toward the puppy who passed away 3 weeks later. Cast will nibble, move your face to get your attention, and need your arm, stomach or chest letting you know you are their safety net, they love you dearly. This is wonderful. when talking on the phone they meow, they think your talking to them, they have no concept of what a phone is. Love them back and you will have a freind for life. Aloha (L)
I received my cat from a friend who had to downsize and thereby let some of her pets go. Princess Phoebe is a little scardy cat, to say the least. She only likes women and when she came to my house (I lived alone) she wouldn't come out from behind the bigscreen for about 3 weeks. Its been almost a year, and we sleep together every night. When I roll over she walks around my feet and lays down next to my face and wiggles her body under my hand. She's never been a lap cat but if I am laying on the couch with a blanket she will lay on me. But most importantly she purrs and talks all the time, and now it incorporates nibbling. At first I was really upset as the last cat was a stray I took in and she was a ferocious biter! But come to find out this one was love nibbling. She nibbles, she purrs, she talks, and she rubs and headbutts me all the time. There is no way she doesn't love me to pieces. I'm only sorry that she is about 9 years old and I don't have her full life to have her.

It really sounds like your neighborhood kitty has adopted you, and its so sweet. Congrats, especially on the way she has also adopted your partner :)
I received my cat from a friend who had to downsize and thereby let some of her pets go. Princess Phoebe is a little scardy cat, to say the least. She only likes women and when she came to my house (I lived alone) she wouldn't come out from behind the bigscreen for about 3 weeks. Its been almost a year, and we sleep together every night. When I roll over she walks around my feet and lays down next to my face and wiggles her body under my hand. She's never been a lap cat but if I am laying on the couch with a blanket she will lay on me. But most importantly she purrs and talks all the time, and now it incorporates nibbling. At first I was really upset as the last cat was a stray I took in and she was a ferocious biter! But come to find out this one was love nibbling. She nibbles, she purrs, she talks, and she rubs and headbutts me all the time. There is no way she doesn't love me to pieces. I'm only sorry that she is about 9 years old and I don't have her full life to have her.

It really sounds like your neighborhood kitty has adopted you, and its so sweet. Congrats, especially on the way she has also adopted your partner :)

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