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HOME Meowing Questions Why Does My Cat Bite My Nose When I Sleep?

Why Does My Cat Bite My Nose When I Sleep?

When cats bite or nibble on noses when we sleep, it’s easy simply to chalk it up as the cat does strange things. However, most of the strange behavior cats display is done with some sort of purpose in mind, and in this case, it’s biting your nose in play.

Your cat might bite your nose in your sleep because you’re snoring or breathing heavily through it. Noise is an attractant to a playful cat.  If your cat is biting your nose, it’s playing with you, not necessarily seeking affection. Try leaving toys on the bed to keep the cat occupied while you’re sleeping.

Biting isn’t the only thing a cat will do with your nose though. Some cats might lay down close enough to your face so that they can start licking your nose. When they do this, it’s more of an affectionate act, rather than play.

But when the teeth come out, it’s no longer affection but playtime. It’s not unusual for a cat to start by one act and follow up with the other.

Biting and Licking – Licking and Biting

cat licking owner's face

Licking First with a Toothy Follow-up

Your cat might start off licking your nose, and after a few moments proceed to clamp down. This is something you’ll notice cats doing in a friendly manner.

What begins as an act of affection, or even an act of attention-getting, turns into a playful type of behavior. In many ways, cats will do with us what they’ll do within reason.

Biting First, then Licking

If you were to allow it, the cat biting your nose might eventually begin to follow up with some licks. This is also something you’ll find cats doing to one another, after a quick bout of roughhousing, they’ll start licking each other instead of biting. Shortly thereafter they might fall asleep wherever they stopped playing.

However, being awoken from a sound sleep due to the cat’s fangs bearing down on your nose isn’t a pleasant wake-up call. You may not be in the mood to wait to see if licks are coming after the bites.

Nose Licks with No Bites

cat sniffing owner's nose

Depending on the cat, nose licking can be just as painful as biting due to their sandpaper tongue. What’s cute at first might begin to get sore- even raw from the licking cat.

Your cat simple licking your nose while you’re sleeping can happen for different reasons than biting. Often, it’s to get some attention, but at times it may be a case of cat OCD.

If you feel like your cat is licking the skin off of your nose, this might just be the case. Cats with OCD will clean themselves to the extreme, and if it finds your nose hasn’t met its high standard of cleanliness, it’ll clean your nose off!

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it will feel that way.

If your cat is only trying to stir you from sleeping so it can get some attention, then it’ll stop licking your nose as soon as you wake up and give it what it wants. It’s possible that it only wants you to pet it or needs to be let out of the bedroom, or outside for outdoor cats.

Either way, when it knows you’re stirred, it’ll probably back off a bit and try to figure out a way to give you further instructions. After all, it’s all about them.

What is Your Response When Your Cat Bites Your Nose?

cat sniffing owner's face

How you respond to your cat biting your nose can either solve the problem or wind up making it worse. I know, you might not be with it enough when your cat wakes you up to respond with a clear head, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

How you respond should correlate with your desires. If you think it’s a cute behavior that you don’t mind waking up to on occasion, I suppose there isn’t anything you need to do.

But, if you’re tired of waking up with pinholes on your sniffer, then it’s time to review your reactions. Are you responding in a manner that lets the cat know you’re not happy, or indifferent?

If you can, gently swat the cat away, tapping its nose while sternly saying no. Eventually, a kitten can learn what no means and an older cat should already be familiar with the term.

Nose for Nose

The nose of a cat is very sensitive. A tap should cause the cat to release and recoil long enough for you to slide it away from your face.

Never Pull Away from a Cat’s Claws or Teeth

lady lifted her cat

If it’s in the process of biting you, the last thing you’ll want to do is try to pull the cat away. That will end in drag marks on your nose from the cat’s teeth.

If that’s not bad enough, it may attempt to grab at your face to secure its position by using its claws (yes, I’m still talking about if the cat is playing).

That same rule applies no matter where a cat has you, be it with claws or teeth. Pulling away will only make matters worse, as every weapon at the cat’s disposal is built to grab and prevent things from getting away.

Doing something that promotes the cat to release a grip on its own is the best thing to do. As stated above, a gentle whap on the nose should do it, if not, a little harsher of a whap.

This is also a behavior that cats share – letting each other know when playful roughhousing is going too far. They’ll squawk, cry, growl, and get a clear shot in, to let the other cat know that enough is enough or it ’s playing too rough.

Be measured, as you’ll not need to whap it hard enough to harm the cat or send it running for the hills. But just enough to let it know it ’s hurting you and you’re not playing around.

Final Thoughts

lady hugged her cat

We know better than to treat our cats like people (at least we’re supposed to know better), but nothing is saying that cats won’t treat us like other cats. The licking, the biting, the roughhousing, is all their way of interacting with you because it feels comfortable with you.

Affection from cats isn’t always purring and being cute, curling up beside us, or showing us obvious signs of love. Sometimes it can sting or even draw blood. Such is the life we choose to live by adopting and falling in love with those armed to the teeth predators.

The advice above should help ween the cat from its nose-biting behavior over time as it learns its boundaries. But understanding the cat, though is hurting you, is not trying to be malicious or harmful. Actually, it’s just the opposite.