Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

If your cat loves licking you, you could be wondering why they do this, especially considering that it often hurts when cats lick you. So, why then do they do it?

Your cat licks you as a way of showing their affection to you. Licking is an affectionate gesture in cats, and if they love you, they’ll do the same to you. Cats also lick you as a way of bonding and socializing, as well as to groom you, but these are not the only reasons. Below, let’s check out 9 reasons why your cat licks you.

9. To Show Affection

Image from Pet Supermarket

If you assumed that licking is your cat’s way of showing you their affection, you’re right. Mother cats show their love and affection to their kittens through licking. When your cat wants to communicate their affection to you, they will do it the same way.

Even though being licked by a cat hurts, don’t get mad at your cat. They are just trying to say they love and care for you.

8. Bonding And Socializing

Image from Litter-Robot

Apart from being a part of grooming, licking is a way of bonding and socializing among cats. Cats from the same family or cats that have grown together will lick each other to show that everyone belongs. 

Therefore, if your cat believes that you are part of the family, they will lick you as a way of socializing and to strengthen the bond between you and them.

7. They Want Your Attention

Image from Litter-Robot

Cats will also lick you when they want you to give them your attention. This usually happens when they want something, such as when they want you to feed or pet them. They know that you can’t ignore the licking.

If your cat is using licking as a way to capture your attention, the licking will also be accompanied by other attention-seeking behavior like meowing or pawing at you.

6. They Are Bored

Image from Instagram:@peppi_the_catlove

Cats like a lot of mental stimulation, and when they feel bored, they will lick you as a way of soothing themselves and initiating an interaction with you.

If your cat spends a lot of time alone, they could also get lonely and develop separation anxiety. Cats with separation anxiety will want to be near you whenever you’re around and spend a lot of that time licking you.

5. Anxiety

Image from Pet Supermarket

Cats tend to over groom when they are feeling anxious, and sometimes, they will transfer this behavior to you and start grooming you as a way to calm their anxiety.

Anxiety in cats can be caused by various triggers, including changing the arrangement of furniture in your house, moving to a new house, introduction of new food, introducing a new pet to your home, welcoming a new roommate or family member into the house, and so on.

4. To Claim You As Theirs

Image from Basepaws

It is perfectly normal for cats to mark their territory in things and areas they consider to be theirs, including you. 

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about your cat spraying you to claim you as theirs. Instead, they will lay their claim on you by licking you. This tells others cats that you are off-limits because you belong to them. This kind of licking will also be accompanied by head rubs.

3. To Groom You

Image from Basepaws

Cats are known to be very fastidious when it comes to grooming, and will spend almost half of their day grooming themselves. This grooming is done by licking themselves. 

Cats also groom others within their social circle, and sometimes, they will extend this to you, licking you as a way of grooming you. This doesn’t mean that your cat thinks that you stink. They are just showing that they care about your well-being.

2. It Soothes Them

Image from 1-800-PetMeds

Licking is very common among cats who were separated from their mothers at a very young age. Since they didn’t get enough time to suckle, these cats use licking as a way to soothe themselves.

If you have a young cat who spends a lot of time licking you, accompanied by kneading, this is a sign that they are using the licking to simulate the same comfort they got from nursing.

1. You Taste Good

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Sometimes, your cat licks you simply because they love the taste of your skin. This usually happens when you’re sweating (they love the salty taste of sweat), or when you have applied some flavored lotions on your skin.

Note, however, that some of the compounds in lotions and creams could be toxic to your cat, so you should not allow them to lick you if you have these lotions on your skin.

Related Questions

Can Humans Get Sick From Cat Saliva? Cat saliva is not clean from a human point of view, and therefore, it is possible for humans to get sick from cat saliva. Some of the diseases that can be passed to humans from cat saliva include rabies and meningitis. These diseases are spread when a cat’s saliva comes into contact with broken skin or mucous membrane.

Why Does My Cat Want To Lick My Ear? Your cat wants to lick your ear because they are attracted by the smell of the wax in your ears. The wax in your ears contains fatty acids, dead skin cells and some little levels of cholesterol, which can give off a scent of animal protein that attracts your cat.

How Do You Stop Your Cat From Licking You? The best way to stop your cat from licking you is to distract them with something like catnip or a treat-dispensing toy. If your cat licks themselves compulsively, there are some products you can put on your cat to stop licking, such as lemon juice, cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce. Apply these on the affected part.

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Pete Decker