According to Hartz, cats bite to affirm dominance, to respond to a threat or to communicate a need, such as the desire to go outside. Some cats give love nips to show affection.
According to the ASPCA, bites frequently result from play behavior. Many of a cat's play habits are actually innate predatory practices, such as stalking, ambushing, batting and swatting. If young cats are not weaned too early or orphaned, they learn to control biting and clawing when playing. However, pet owners signal the acceptance of aggressive actions, such as biting, when they allow cats to chase and attack hands and feet.