What Does It Mean When a Cat Licks Your Face?

In order to correct this bothersome behavior, its important to understand exactly why your cat is constantly licking you. Here are six of the most common reasons behind your cats tongue baths.

One reason for your cat licking your face is that she has accepted you as part of her pride and feels completely at ease in your presence. If its gotten to the point where the licking is interfering with day-to-day life, you should schedule a wellness exam with your vet.

While a bath of cat saliva doesnt really sound that clean, this grooming promotes bonding. In the wild, cats who are part of the same community will often lick one another to form tighter bonds.

Should I let my cat lick my face?

Cats pick up the same bacteria when they clean themselves, too, so letting your cat lick your mouth, nose or eyes is not recommended. … Cat saliva contains a chemical that promotes healing, and having a cat lick a wound will make it heal faster and make it less likely it will become infected.

How do you know if your cat loves you?

One of the most convincing signs your cat loves you is her being happy to snooze on your lap. As a natural hunter, your cat doesn’t like to feel vulnerable – and is especially wary of feeling this way while asleep. By sleeping on you, she’s exposing herself at her most defenceless, and showing her trust for you.

Why does my cat lick my face when we cuddle?

In the same way that you show affection to your cat by petting it, your cat may attempt to return the favor by licking you. Kittens especially will use licking as a way to ease anxiety the way a human might use hugs. If your feline friend loves to lick you, it probably means it would like some affection in return.

Do cats give kisses?

Cats only make eye contact with people they like and are even known to make ‘eye kisses’! This is when a cat will stare with half closed eyelids and slowly blink, repeatedly. It’s a gesture that can be reciprocated, so if you notice your cat giving you a ‘kiss’, why not give them one in return?

We humans tend to think that when animals lick us, they are showing us their love. But is that really accurate, especially when the tongue of your cat feels like its sanding your skin off? Or is there some other reason they are so obsessed with delivering incessant tongue lashings?

Licking also establishes territory by marking things, cat toys , other animals, and people with her scent, which tells interlopers to stay away because this is Fluffys property. They missed out on their fair share of suckling and with no appropriate outlet, licking is the closest they can get to the soothing comfort that nursing gave them.

Any cat owner whose kitty is fond of licking her hair is well aware that Fluffys powerful tongue is capable of actually pulling some strands out.

A cats tongue is one of its greatest assets. With tongues covered in papillae, cats use these curved spines to groom themselves spending anywhere from 30% to 50% of their day keeping their fur clean. So with all of that time spent on hygiene, many cat parents wonder: Why does my cat lick me?

Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their humans to pass along the same sentiment. To groom you Even though your cat might not realize that licking you isnt actually helping you get clean, this behavior is completely natural to them.

As we mentioned earlier, mother cats groom their kittens in order to teach them to do it for themselves, show them affection, and create a bond. Interestingly enough, although cats tongues are made for grooming, they have a much more muted sense of taste in comparison to humans. Typically, this kind of licking isnt anything to worry about unless your cat grooms themselves so much that their skin becomes raw or they create bald spots.

Because cats are self groomers, the makeup of their tongue is strong enough to get saliva down to their skin, as well as detangle their fur, remove substances like dirt, and redistribute oils. While your cat licking you isnt typically anything to worry about and can even be a compliment if at any time youre concerned with their behavior, we recommend that you reach out to your veterinarian for advice.

Many people assume that cats lick them as a sign of love which isn’t really that far off. While it‘s hard to determine if cats feel complex emotions like love, licking is a sign of affection. Cats usually lick themselves in order to groom. Mother cats will lick their kittens as a part of the grooming process as well. However, cats will also lick each other as a sign of affection. Cats actually lick humans for one of several reasons, but most of them come down to displays of affection.

This is because cat tongues have backward-facing hooks that are meant to pull and clean their fur the way a comb would.

1. Fond Family Memories

One reason for your cat licking your face is that she has accepted you as part of her pride and feels completely at ease in your presence. Mother cats will often lick their kittens to make them feel safe and secure. Now, the roles are reversed, and your kitty is showing you affection the best way she knows how – to by licking your face.

2. She’s Seeking Attention

If your cat is feeling bored or lonely, she may start licking you to get attention. Sometimes, the licking means that she simply wants to play or be petted. However, in other cases, the obsessive face licking could be a sign of stress or separation anxiety.Excessive stress-induced licking, whether it’s grooming herself or grooming your face, may mean that your feline is stressed. If it’s gotten to the point where the licking is interfering with day-to-day life, you should schedule a wellness exam with your vet.

3. Mine, Mine, Mine

Cats will lick items (and seemingly your face) to mark it as their own. Leaving her scent on you establishes you as her property. Mama cats will do the same to their kittens. Even cats that aren’t related but get along very well will lick one another to socially bond.

4. Grooming

When your cat licks your face, she may be trying to clean you. While a bath of cat saliva doesn’t really sound that clean, this grooming promotes bonding. In the wild, cats who are part of the same community will often lick one another to form tighter bonds. The face licking just means that your pet considers you part of her pride.

5. A Human Pacifier

Kittens who were taken away from or abandoned by their mother before they were eight weeks old may develop an oral fixation, making them susceptible to excessive licking. They didn’t get the appropriate amount of time to suckle and licking can be a soothing substitute for that.

6. She Finds You Tasty

Whether it’s from the salt of your sweat or a spill on your arm, your kitty may be licking you because she enjoys the taste.

How to Stop the Constant Licking

Stopping excessive licking from your cat could prove to be difficult. This behavior is often rooted in love and affection, so it may be tough to stop without harming your relationship.The best way to prevent licking is to redirect your cat’s actions. For example, if your cat goes to lick your face, simply move it away from her and pet her instead. You could also move away from your cat when she starts licking. This causes her to associate her licking with your disappearance.

1. Memories of Kittenhood

Kitty gives you a tongue bath because she accepts you as a member of her family and feels completely secure when she’s with you. She remembers how her mother gave her cleanings as a kitten and now is continuing what she learned, only with the roles reversed (unless you happen to lick her as well). Your cat is nurturing you in the best way she knows how – by keeping you clean and claiming you as her own.

2. Mine, Mine, All Mine

Licking also establishes territory by marking things, cat toys, other animals, and people with her scent, which tells interlopers to stay away because this is Fluffy’s property. Mother cats lick their kittens to establish them as belonging to her, and your cat does the same to tell the world you’re hers. Cats who are siblings or are from different litters but get along quite well together will lick each other as a form of social bonding. Licking you is a gesture to bond the two of you together.

3. Pacifier Substitute

Cats who were weaned before it was time or who were orphaned develop an oral fixation that makes them excessive lickers. They missed out on their fair share of suckling and with no appropriate outlet, licking is the closest they can get to the soothing comfort that nursing gave them. Another sign of early weaning is kneading you, accompanied by satisfied purring and what looks like a smile on her face. It probably is.

4. Licking Is Like Petting

To a cat, licking her owner is her own version of petting you. Both petting and licking are forms of affection to her. Since she can’t pet you, she licks you instead. She has no idea that her tongue actually hurts, though.

5. High Anxiety

When kitty is especially anxious, she may begin licking compulsively. That’s a good sign that she needs to be petted and cuddled to reduce her stress. If your cat seems to lick incessantly, try giving her more attention and affection to soothe her and hopefully back off the sandpapering a bit.

Why It Hurts

Your cat’s tongue is specially designed for thorough cleaning and removal of dirt and loose fur. Any cat owner whose kitty is fond of licking her hair is well aware that Fluffy’s powerful tongue is capable of actually pulling some strands out. This ability comes from the papillae covering it – hooks that face backward and are made of keratin, which also is the material that her claws are made of. The papillae actually function like a comb to separate hairs and fur to get at the dirt underneath.

1. To show affection

For cats, licking is not only used as a grooming mechanism, but also to show affection. By licking you, other cats, or even other pets, your cat is creating a social bond. Part of this behavior may stem from kittenhood when your cat’s mother licked to groom them, as well as to show care and affection. Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their humans to pass along the same sentiment.Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their owners to pass along the same sentiment.

2. To “mark their territory”

Although there are a number of ways that cats “mark their territory,” including cheek rubbing, scratching (and unfortunately, spraying) – licking is another behavior that cats might use to claim something as their own.In this case, if your cat is licking you, they’re trying to ensure that other cats or animals know who you belong to – them!

3. To groom you

Even though your cat might not realize that licking you isn’t actually helping you “get clean,” this behavior is completely natural to them. As we mentioned earlier, mother cats groom their kittens in order to teach them to do it for themselves, show them affection, and create a bond.In fact, according to certified feline behavior and training consultant Marci Koski, a group of cats living together often designate an “allo-groomer” – a cat that licks and grooms the other cats in the group.If you find your cat licking you, they might be trying to fulfill their role as the “allo-groomer”– cleaning you and establishing your membership in their group.

4. To taste something interesting

As simple (and even silly) as it may seem, your cat may be licking you because they taste something interesting on your skin. You may have spilled something, or came into contact with something that left a residue on your skin – and your cat likes the way it tastes. If it’s warm, or you’ve been exercising, it could be that your sweat has left a salty residue, and that’s what your cat is trying to taste.Interestingly enough, although cats’ tongues are made for grooming, they have a much more muted sense of taste in comparison to humans. In fact, cats are one of the only mammals that are known not to be able to taste sweets.

5. To get your attention

Another possible reason why your cat licks you may just be that they want your attention. Whether they want you to pet them, feed them, or pay attention to them, your cat may lick you to try and capture your attention.In this case, licking can be equivalent to any other attention-seeking cat behavior, like pawing at you, or meowing.

6. To cope with anxiety or stress

Finally, your cat might lick you because they’re anxious or stressed. Although sometimes excessive licking or grooming can indicate a medical issue, many times cats lick you, or themselves, as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety.You might find your cat licking you after moving to a new home, or experiencing a change in their environment. Typically, this kind of licking isn’t anything to worry about – unless your cat grooms themselves so much that their skin becomes raw or they create bald spots. In this case, you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to remedy this behavior.

Signs of Affection

In the same way that you show affection to your cat by petting it, your cat may attempt to return the favor by licking you. Kittens especially will use licking as a way to ease anxiety the way a human might use hugs. If your feline friend loves to lick you, it probably means it would like some affection in return. Which, honestly, is one of the best parts of owning a cat.

Marking Territory

Cats use pheromones to mark their territory. While most people know that cats mark property by urinating on things, they can mark their territory in other ways as well. Licking and head rubs are ways for cats to claim you as part of their property—affectionately. When your cat licks or rubs against you, it is reaffirming that you are important to it and they want all the other cats to know. You may notice that sometimes other cats shy away from you, it‘s possible they smell that you belong to another cat.

Part of the Family

Many people joke that cats think they’re humans and given the way some cats behave towards their owners, it‘s easy to see why. A great example is a cat who will leave dead mice or birds on their owner’s doorsteps in an attempt to share a tasty treat. Cats have also been known to present their owners with live animals in an attempt to teach its owner to hunt. It‘s clear that not only do many cats see their owners as part of the family, they also see them as a bit inept at being cats. Female cats especially will exhibit this sort of parenting or nurturing type of behavior.When cats lick you, it can mean that they are attempting to teach you to groom yourself. It‘s a memory your cat had from being licked by its own mother and is a real sign of affection. Cats will also lick each other as a way to calm them down. Cats are very attentive to their owner’s moods so you might find your cat is more affectionate when you’re stressed or sick. Cats are attempting to calm your anxiety the same way you would pet your cat if they seemed nervous.