When my cat is really happy (I'm brushing him, he's purring and butting me with his nose) he'll turn to his side and bite my hand/arm. Not hard, but I definitly need to trust him that he's not about to hurt me. Sometimes when he wants something AND he's feeling lovey, he'll lick then almost bite my bare foot. I'm not concerned, but would love to beter understand him. Any ideas?
I have had cats like this. It's worth trying to discourage the behavior, it can escalate into harder chomps, and cat bites get awful infections. Cats are hard to train though! If the teeth come out I would push him down/push him away and tell him no, and push him away with your foot if he bites that. With my cats they are disciplined with loud noise- a big NO! or or AH! makes an impression on them. They are smart, they just don't have that drive to please the leader like dogs. I think that's why I like them so much! :)
Is this a kitten or adult cat? If this is an adult, and he wanted to hurt you, he would have done so easily. Adult cats know what they are doing with their teeth. If he only bit enough to create pressure without marking skin then he is showing love and affection and is not being aggressive. I have a cat that does this--she started gnawing my toes yesterday quite hard and I shooed her away when I had enough. But I know it was not aggression, she was trying to be affectionate with me.
If it is a kitten he might be playing and yes you want to discourage him from play using teeth on human skin, as it sends the wrong message.
He's 10. I know he's not aiming to hurt me, and I'm fine with it. I was just curious about the root of the behaviour; do cats do this to each other 'in the wild'?