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9 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Nibbles On Your Cat + 3 Tips

Why Does My Dog Nibble On My Cat

You walk in the living room and notice your dog and your cat are vibin’ together…

Your dog nibbles your cat, while the latter seems so pleased.

Should you be worried? Or should you just be appeased? 

Maybe you took your phone out to take a picture of them…

Then, curious as you are, you’re reading this article to answer your question of the day.

In this article you’ll know:

  • How to spot a jealous dog.
  • How to tell if this nibbling behavior is playful.
  • 9 reasons why your dog nibbles on your cat.
  • 3 tips to stop your dog from nibbling on your cat.
  • The deep relationship your cat and dog can establish.
  • And much more…

Why does my dog nibble on my cat?

Your dog nibbles on your cat mainly because they’re playing together. Your dog could also be grooming, de-fleaing, and looking after your cat like they’re their mom. Other reasons include deflecting tension, feelings of jealousy, excitement, and affection. 

9 reasons why your dog nibbles your cat’s ears

#1: Jealousy

As a dog parent, you probably already feel that your dog gets jealous.

And you’re right!

Dogs are capable of being jealous of other animals and even other humans.

A study shows that dogs feel greedy towards their humans. Our four-legged friends feel envy when we show affection to other social beings.

Another investigation finds that a dog behaves like how a child acts when they’re jealous.

Therefore, your dog could be nibbling your cat because you gave your cat more attention. 

“But I give them both enough attention…”

Then that could mean that your dog only wants you to focus on them.

Like, you have two hands, but your dog wants you to pet them with both. They don’t want to split your attention with your cat. 

Dogs want the spotlight all to themselves. They want to be the star.

So, after this occurs, your dog nibbles at your cat. This action aims to tell both of you that Fido is feeling jealous.

Other signs of jealousy in dogs include:

  • Walking away.
  • Showing off tricks.
  • Pushing your cat away from you.
  • Getting in between you and your cat.
  • Growling, barking, and snarling at your cat and you.

#2: They’re just playing

In this case, you don’t have to worry…


The two are just playing.

A study says that playful nibbling is a common amusement between our fur babies. 

So if your dog is nibbling your cat during their routine playtime, don’t fret.

If you’re still concerned, that’s understandable. But believe me, this behavior is borne out of playfulness in this case.

If you notice that this nibbling is delicate, you have your confirmation.

You would also sometimes catch them taking turns.

However, the same study suggests that the larger one tends to nibble the smaller one.

So if your dog is the bigger one, they’d definitely be the nibbler. 

Still can’t tell?

Other signs of playfulness in your dog include:

  • Smiling.
  • Floppy ears.
  • Relaxed body.
  • Enthusiastic wagging of the tail.
  • Play biting, they’re controlling their bite.
  • Playful growling, you’d notice it sounds exaggerated and a little forceful.

Check out also: 13 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Nibbles On Your Other Dog

#3: Deflecting tension

Your Dog Nibbles On Your Cat To Deflect Tension

At first, you might’ve been hesitant to get a cat because of your dog. Or it could be the other way around.

Regardless, you’re hesitant because of one thing. It’s widely assumed, cats and dogs tend not to get along.

You’re a witness to this, for sure.

Now that you have a cat and dog around, you might be used to hisses and barking during their fights.

However, this is not always the case.

Little by little, you notice that the two actually get along…at least most of the time.

If you see your dog nibbling on your cat, you should be proud. 

Your pooch has an innate prey drive. This drive is what tells your dog to hunt. 

That’s why your dog – probably before getting your cat – barks at a moving cat. Their bark is like a signal, and for sure, they would want to pursue the furry little lion.

But, in this case, your dog suppresses this drive.

This shows that Fido is dedicated to deflecting the tension between them and Kitty.

It’s as if this nibbling is an act of treaty between the two of them.

You might also want to know: Why Is My Dog Obsessed With My Cat? 8 Weird Reasons

#4: They have a social bond

Who knew that such behavior could strengthen a bond?

The study I mentioned in reason #2 shows that nibbling between animals creates a social and emotional connection.

For Fido and Kitty, nibbling is also a form of communication.

So if you see your dog nibbling your cat, it’s their bonding moment. Or they’re speaking to each other.  

This behavior reflects the relationship your cat and dog have.

And no, just because your dog nibbles your cat doesn’t mean that they’re asserting their dominance. 

Note: Nibbling doesn’t reflect any social hierarchy in the animals. It doesn’t define who’s submissive or not. The animals are merely spending their time together and fortifying their relationship.

#5: They’re grooming your cat

Another instance where you don’t have to worry:

Your dog nibbles your cat for grooming purposes only.

Your pooch might be helping your cat to get something off their fur.

It’s a sincere gesture from your dog. 

It’s like your canine offers their fur-tailoring services to your cat.  

They will nibble around your cat’s ears, back, head, and neck.

Your canine cleans them by delicately biting around these areas. Fido pulls their teeth on your cat’s fur to get rid of debris. 

You can confirm that this is the case once you hear your cat purring. For all your catto knows, your dog’s a masseuse. 

Additionally, animals that groom each other establish a relationship, too. 

That’s another reason why this behavior is essential to your fur babies’ bonding.

Read also: 13 reasons why your dog grooms you

#6: They’re showing affection and care

Your dog could be nibbling your cat to show their affection.

Awww, yes, they love each other!

Your pooch has learned this behavior since they were a puppy.

During puppyhood, your canine uses their mouth to explore around. 

Have you seen a puppy look for their momma dog’s nipple? The pups’ eyes are still closed, and they solely rely on their mouth and nose’s smell ability. 

With that, your dog has brought this behavior to adulthood. And now, they use it to show affection to their fellow fur friends.

Many fur parents have noticed this behavior in their dogs. It’s indeed a very curious (and cute) matter. 

One explanation is affection.

They can attest that their cats and dogs show their love for each other through nibbling.

#7: They have maternal instincts for your cat

Have you heard of any news where a dog adopts an orphaned kitten?

Believe it or not, it’s not that rare.

A dam, a.k.a dog mother, has a soft spot for abandoned kittens. And that spot is called their maternal instincts.

Once a dam adopts a kitten, they’ll nurse, protect, and take care of it as their own. 

How far will their motherly love go?

Well, dams will sometimes start lactating after they adopt a stray kitten. Even if they don’t have their own litter to start with.

So when your dog nibbles on your cat, their maternal nature must’ve been accessed.

Your cat might not be young anymore, but the dam will still look at them as their own. 

A dam will nibble on her litter and groom her puppies. Doing so will promote warmth, protection, and breathing. 

If this is the case, it could be followed by licking of the ears, eyes, and top of the head.

They do this because it’s the way that they clean their puppies, as well.

Watch this heartwarming 3-minute video. It involves a momma dog that lost her pups and then nursed 3 orphaned kittens. 

#8: Excitement

Imagine that you just came home from a walk with your dog.

As soon as your pooch settles, you notice that they sit beside your cat.

You look again and see Fido nibbling your catto’s neck.

What does this tell us?

That your dog has missed your cat. 

Sure it was a short walk, but they might’ve wished that your cat came with them.

The same study from reason #2 says nibbling was observed after a period of separation. 

It also has something to do with greeting each other.

That means your dog missed their fur friend and was excited to see them again.

“Henlo catto, doggo is home…lemme tell you about our adventure…”

So there comes the nibbling!

#9: De-fleaing

Oh, your dog is really in to take care of your cat.

Because in this case, they’re nibbling Kitty to remove fleas from them. 

You’ll notice that your dog gnaws their teeth on catto’s fur. It would also look like your pooch’s eating corn on a cob. That’s why nibbling is called corn cobbing, too.

They do this in an attempt to pull fleas and ticks away from your cat’s fur.

This process is called allogrooming.

Allogrooming plays a role in primates. During allogrooming, animals will remove debris and other foreign things from each other.

How do I get my dog to stop nibbling on my cat? 3 tips

#1: Tell your dog ‘Stop’

Getting rid of unwanted behavior will take constant call-outs from you. 

If you’re bothered by this behavior, you can work with your dog.

Every time you spot your dog nibbling your cat, tell them to stop. Say it with a firm voice and an assertive stare.

You can tell them ‘no’ or ‘enough.’

Do this every time they exhibit the behavior. 

You want to be consistent. Otherwise, your dog may get confused.

So catch them every time they do it. No exceptions.

It will take a lot of patience on your side, but you’ll have to endure it.

Note: Don’t punish your dog. It might get rid of the behavior more quickly, but it’ll ruin your fur babies’ well-being. This study mentions that the punished dogs are obedient yet they show signs of stress. 

The dogs’ tails are tucked, and their body posture is off. With that, researchers were able to tell that dogs feel scared and nervous. That’s why punishment can be considered a form of abuse.

#2: Provide them something else to nibble on

If your dog is a large breed, there’s a tendency that they’ll nibble rough.

Watch your dog’s bite inhibition. They should be able to control the pressure of their bite. 

Dogs learn to control their bite inhibition in puppyhood. However, this doesn’t guarantee that every dog is excellent at it.

If your dog can’t regulate their bite pressure, they might end up sinking their teeth on your cat.

When that happens, a peaceful nibbling session can even end in an aggressive fight.

We don’t want that to arise…

What you can do is redirect this nibbling behavior.

You could provide your dog an object to nibble on. By doing so, you could distract them away from your cat.

Here are some examples of toys that are good for nibbling:

Warning: You should always watch your dogs as they chew their toys. Some chew toys are easily torn down. Your dog can ingest these torn pieces that might be plastic or rubber. Provide the right and heavy-duty chew toy for your dog. 

#3: Get rid of fleas

Don’t let your dog take care of your cat’s parasite problems. If your cat has fleas, you should get rid of them asap.

Warning: When your dog nibbles at your cat for fleas, they will likely eat some of the tiny insects. This is dangerous because if the fleas have tapeworms, your dog will get them too. The same goes for your cat.

You will rarely see a tick in cats. But if you have other dogs and they have ticks, your dog can nibble them, too. Ticks that are full of blood will be chewed until they kill it or swallow it.

That’s only a natural attitude to them. One of their little options is to ingest these parasites.

With that, here’s what you can do to prevent parasite infestation:

Clean around regularly

Do you know how long fleas can live without feeding? Surprisingly, they can live up to a year of no host under ideal situations.

That’s why you should clean around your home regularly. Just so you could be sure, too.

Fleas and ticks can live in your beddings, drawers, couches, etc. 

Regularly change and wash your sheets, curtains, and pillowcases. 

You should also routinely vacuum your couch and your mattress.  

Lastly, you should wash your fur babies’ belongings too, i.e., toys. 

Let your cat or dog undergo treatments

There are many available treatments to get rid of fleas and ticks. 

It’s best to consult your fur friends’ veterinarian. They might suggest the following: