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Our question this week was:
My 6-month old kitten loves to nuzzle and purr in my face. I really love when she does that except for when she starts to nibble my nose, my ears etc… I know they are love bites but they hurt with those sharp kitty teeth. I tell her "NO" and put her to the side when she does that, but I don't want her to think the nuzzling is bad. She also does it in the middle of the night. She'll climb on me, purr, nuzzle then bite. What do I do?
Hi - thanks for your email Nicole. Many cats love to nuzzle and purr close to your neck and face. The nuzzling and purring can be signs of affection and contentment. The love bites can be a form of play or dominance.
If a kitten was playing with her mother and she was nuzzling and purring following by a painful love bite - she would probably get disciplined with a swat, hiss or bite back.
Some cats that interact with people do "love bites" and we really don't know how to respond. One option to deal with this behavior is to consistently withdrawal your affection and attention immediately. What you are doing - telling her "NO" and putting her to the side when she does that is perfect.
The other thing you can do is to give her positive reinforcement when she is purring and nuzzling. You can pet her, coo at her, and tell her that she is a good girl. As soon as she gets rough, put her down and withdrawal you attention. Ignore her.
Most cats will learn pretty quickly what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
Best of luck!
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