Why Does My Dog Nibble On My Cat? – Top 7 Reasons

Furry parents here is a question that you might be asking yourself sometimes:

Why Does My Dog Nibble On My Cat?

There are various reasons why your dog likes to nibble on your cat, ranging from adorable to hygiene-related ones. It can also serve as a form of communication among your two pets.

Here are seven perfectly understandable and true reasons why this nibbling (also known as nitting and corn cobbing) happens and why you should not be worried about it.

Reason number 1. Your furry pet is grooming your cat.

Your dog is mainly grooming your cat. Seriously.

Grooming among animals is cleaning each other’s fur using their mouth or hands.

In many cases, an animal cannot remove parasites from areas it cannot reach by itself. Studies have also shown that nitting’s basic function is creating social relationships.

Submission and dominance are not reflected in a grooming ritual, which includes a dog nibbling on a cat’s back and ears. Some nitting sites include the head and the neck.

The dog cleans the fur of the cat, gently removing any dirt or debris there.

In fact, and in case you have not noticed, nitting may actually comfort the cat. How would one know? It depends whether the cat is purring, allowing the dog to continue with his nibbling ritual, and not showing any aggression.

Reason number 2. Grooming makes your pets friends with each other.

Grooming can mend relationships among your pets that are always fighting with each other. In many cases, cats and dogs do not get along, regardless if they live under the same roof.

You sometimes suddenly hear your cat hissing while your dog is barking as they begin to fight.

This ritual can also increase the possibility that the cat would help the dog if it fights with other creatures or animals.

Most dogs tend to chase moving cats due to prey drive, an instinct among them.

Nitting can help lessen the aggression between your pets. One study has shown how cats and dogs get positive feelings from the ritual. That is aside from the extra time your pets spend together.

Reason number 3: Your dog just adores your cat

Why do dogs nibble on cats? One good reason is this: Out of affection.

Your pet dog had likely learned about this when it was still a puppy.

From the time they are born, puppies use a lot of their mouth in looking and exploring their nearby surroundings.

When puppies are playing, they are using their mouth. Puppies bite, lick and actually groom each other by nibbling on the ears and neck of each other.

As they grow up, some dogs retain this behavior. They tend to nibble other dogs as a sign of affection.

It is no wonder that your dog might nibble on the neck and ears of your cat, especially if they have been constant housemates for a long time.

In fact, many pet owners attest to the same observations. Some pet parents attest that their dogs are protective of their cats.

Reason number 4: Nibbling is considered their way of communicating

Pets cannot speak, of course, but they have means of communication with other animals. Such as nitting.

Some studies have shown that dogs communicate via nibbling. This form of communication results in a more desirable relationship among them. It is not surprising, given that nitting can actually improve the bond between the nibbler and the recipient.

If your pets are new to each other, nibbling can serve as a way of developing their friendship.

Reason number 5: Your dog may be de-fleaing your pet cat

If your dog keeps biting the cat’s neck, it might be grooming your feline pet.

The dog might be removing fleas as well as other parasites when he is nibbling.  This is especially true if your cat has fleas, so your dog could be nibbling to remove those fleas.

Reason number 6: Your dog may just be overly excited to see your pet cat

Sometimes, dogs do nibble on their pet parents, especially if they are excited to meet them again, say after work or school or after an errand.

But it turns out that pet dogs do this when they want to show excitement towards other animals as well.

Nibbling thus could be your pet dog’s style of greeting the cat, especially if they have not seen each other for a long while.

Reason number 7: Your pet dog is displaying a strong motherly instinct toward your pet cat

Your dog could also be showing its maternal instincts toward your pet cat.

Your pet dog shows its instincts by nibbling on the neck, back, or ears of your cat. Some dogs have shown this behavior toward their puppies. Nitting is usually followed by extensive licking of the head, ears, and eyes.

Stop your dog from nibbling on your cat. Here are 7 tips

Here are some tips that you can use to stop your pet dog from nibbling on the cat. You can follow any of these tips to help you address nibbling issues, especially if nitting is getting too rough for your feline pet.

Tip number 1. Give your pet dog objects to nibble on.

Sometimes, the dog’s nibbling can get too rough. This is especially true if your pet does not know bite inhibition.

What does this mean? This refers to the ability of the dog to manage the pressure when they are nibbling. Dogs begin to learn about this ability when they are puppies. They continue to remember when they play with other cats or dogs.

In some cases, some dogs are unable to learn good bite inhibition. Various factors could be affecting this ability, such as excitement or aggression. Thus, nitting could turn into a bite, which might hurt your feline friend.

If the cat is hurt, it may show aggression toward your pet dog and scratch in a matter of seconds.

You can manage your pet dog’s nibbling by giving them nibblers, or nibble objects. Many chew bones and sticks you can buy for your pet dog foster positive chewing behavior. These nibblers can also divert the attention of your dog from your pet cat.

Look for toys that are durable and won’t break into pieces. Also, choose one that won’t lead to stomach blockage if it gets ingested. You can also ask your veterinarian for his or her recommendations.

Tip number 2. Check for your cat’s flea infestation.

A dog will most likely nibble on your cat if it has external parasites.

Check the skin and fur of your cat for flea infestation. You might also want to check if your cat has “flea-dirt,” which is digested blood. If you see flea-dirt, there is evidence your pets, and probably your home, have flea. Fleas can quickly infest humans as well as your pets.

Please keep your pets protected from fleas and other parasites by vaccinating them or have them treated by your veterinarian. You can search online for ways how to make sure your house becomes flea-free.

Tip number 3. Avoid punishment.

Punishing your dog for nibbling would not get you anywhere. Sure, punishment can stop your dog from doing so, but only for the short run.

Positive reinforcement is considered more effective when it comes to modifying the behavior of your dog. It is a reward-based activity that could come in the form of play, food, and attention.

Tip number 4: Just say “no”

One good way to prevent nibbling is to correct your dog before it starts to do it. Stop your dog using simple commands such as “No” or “Stop” in a firm voice.

When your canine pet follows your command, you can reward it with treats or praises to reinforce good behavior.

Tip number 5: Teach impulse control

Use impulse control to stop your dog from nibbling. How? By consistent training.

You can teach your pet to look at you when you call its name. When it looks at you, you can give it a treat.

Make your pet dog wait long for a gratifying treat. Doing this exercise aims to make your canine pet focus on you a little bit longer.

You can train your dog to follow commands such as “Leave it” when it is about to nibble.

Tip number 6: Take away your cat

Sometimes, all you have to do is take your cat away from the pet dog, especially if it is nibbling roughly.

That is why it is crucial to observe your pets closely, especially if they have been separated for a long time.

When any of your pets showed aggression or discomfort, immediately separate them.

Tip number 7: Not all nitting is bad

Sometimes, you just need to see that nitting can still happen from time to time, as it can help pets establish and maintain lifelong friendships.

As long as there is no hissing or growling among either of your pets, then some nibbling is okay. The two of them need to get along.


How to stop my dog from nibbling on my cat?

You can give your pet dog chewing toys to divert its attention from your cat. Check also your cat if it has fleas.

Why do dogs nibble on cats?

Dogs nibble on cats for various reasons, including their love of one another and possible flea situation among the feline pets.

Why does my dog keep biting cat’s neck?

It’s probably because that is the dog’s way of showing affection to your cat.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of bulldogpapa.com. Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!