My brother has 2 rescue cats that were abandoned by the mom. The one that bites is about 1 year old and really lovable, patient, doesn't mind being taken in your arms, doesn't run away when a stranger tries to take her, basically she's really relaxed. She's not afraid of large dogs and often follows them, curious. She also often goes into neighbors' house all along the street and stays by the fridge, hoping they will give them food (even if she still has snacks in her bowl here).

Now hopefully this will give everyone an idea of her kind of personality to explain the following. Sometimes my gf goes to the bathroom at night and the cat comes in at the same time and licks my face while I sleep, waking me up. Other times she walks on our face and explores around then slowly gets close to ears, nose, chin, fingers and bites for no reason when we're not even touching her. Not hard enough to hurt, just an annoying pinch.

I've read about cats biting on internet, how it can be because they're annoyed when they're tired of you petting them or want to assert dominance, however everyone seems to say it depends on the cat. From the info I gave, does anyone have experience with cats and has an idea what is wrong with her?

UPDATE: she does this all the time, day and night

  • Either she's inviting you to chase/play. Or she's just curious and trying to "understand" your face better - by sniffing, biting lightly, etc. Or she's being friendly and trying to groom you. Nothing serious, and easy to deal with. Either engage in play (though I'd advise not to, since it'll only encourage the behavior) or give it a stern no and take it by the scruff and place it in a more desirable location (floor, lap, etc.) and give it a toy to play with.
    – ahron
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 9:14

1 Answer 1


It sounds to me like it might be a grooming behavior because:

  • The cat also licks your face at night.
  • The cat does it pretty lightly, so it's probably not from aggression or play.
  • The cat is doing this at night while you are in a prone position, giving it easier access to your head than at most other times. For some reason, many cats seem to be attracted to the smell of various hair and facial products, and may try to groom your face or hair in particular. It may be that your cat is one of those cats.

It's normal for cats to sometimes bite at the fur while grooming it, and sometimes cats fail to understand the difference between fur and bare skin and attempt to bite that too while grooming.

If it's not a grooming behavior, than my next guesses would be either because the cat is bored and learned that biting gets your attention, or because you are accidentally rolling on it or near or, and it's biting as a warning.

Of course trying to deal with any of these behaviors is hard because it's happening while you're asleep. If possible, you might try keeping the cat out of your room at night. It may also help to keep the cat more entertained at night. One possible way to do this is by giving it a food puzzle toy before you go to sleep. Another possibility is there are a few motorized cat toys that will turn on at random intervals.

  • Thanks friend, it's good to know it might not be to show dominance. She does this any time of day or night however, not only night. You still think it's the same? Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 12:13
  • It could still be grooming behavior. If she does it during the day, then you have the opportunity to observe her body language when she does it. Does she seem very content and relaxed or tense? If she's content and relaxed, it's very probably grooming, if tense, it's probably for another reason. Cats don't really show dominance by biting though. It's usually because they're playing, annoyed, or afraid.
    – Kai
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:47
  • Thanks friend! She is really relaxed, casually biting like if it was normal, we were thinking she just didn't have enough mother's milk when she was young and was instinctively biting anything for milk. Just glad it's most probably not to show dominance :) Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 1:35

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