What Does It Mean When Cats Lick You?

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.

Should I let my cat lick me?

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.

Why does my cat lick me when I pet him?

Your cat may be licking you when you are petting her to show affection but more so to claim ownership of you. Cats mark their territory by transferring pheromones through their scent glands and their saliva, thus, the licking. By marking you as their own they are signaling to other pets around that you belong to them.

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.

What's it mean if your cat licks you?

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.

Todays weird science question covers a query that many cat parents have Why do cats lick you? Kendraw says: My cat is obsessed with licking me. She will tolerate pets, but what she really wants to do when she needs attention is to lick me anywhere she can get skin. [My cat] wont lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow and hand are fair game! She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. And its not just a few licks; she gets quite thorough about it. Ive tried bitter spray. No luck. I know its a sign of affection, but is there any way I can gently get her to stop?

When I adopted Bambu, my adorable orange kitty with arguably the worlds poofiest tail, I was immediately taken aback by the extent of her licking. I left all of our snuggle sessions with my hands, arms, and face covered in kitty saliva.

Scientists have not fully figured out the reason why cats lick people, but here are several possible theories. If your cat was weaned too early, they may have started licking you as a way to seek the comfort reminiscent of nursing.

Your cat may lick your skin or hair to investigate interesting scents or odors, like an appetizing lotion, shampoo, or other topical product. Determine if there are any triggers for the licking, like visitors in your home or loud noises. Never use punishment, including scolding, squirting water, shaking a jar of coins, or applying bitter-tasting spray.

Cover your skin with long-sleeved clothing or a small towel when you interact with them, and provide a food puzzle or toy. If it does not stop after a week, there is likely another motivation for the licking that needs to be addressed, and you should talk to your vet. When your cat interacts with you without licking, reinforce the behavior by rewarding them with praise, petting, or play.

If your cats licking persists or is excessive, then they should be evaluated by your veterinarian to ensure there isnt a medical or emotional disorder underlying it.

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.

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.

6. De-stress your cats with interactive play

Healthy play is always good for your cat. It keeps your cat fit and trim, and it strengthens the bond between you. Not only that, but the chemicals released during exercise help your cat to relax and feel content.

Why Do Cats Lick You?

Scientists have not fully figured out the reason why cats lick people, but here are several possible theories.

Your cat is seeking attention.

Your cat may have learned very quickly that licking gets attention, as you have likely inadvertently rewarded your cat’s licking by talking to, petting, or in some way interacting with them when they lick you. Some cats even find negative attention, like being reprimanded or pushed away, to be better than no attention.

Your cat is displaying kitten-related behavior.

Kittens knead and suckle when nursing. If your cat was weaned too early, they may have started licking you as a way to seek the comfort reminiscent of nursing. In this case, your cat may also knead and purr as they lick you.

Your cat likes your taste.

Your cat may lick your skin or hair to investigate interesting scents or odors, like an appetizing lotion, shampoo, or other topical product. Human perspiration also contains sugar and salts that cats may find appealing.

Your cat is anxious.

Licking may represent a displacement behavior, which is a behavior that a cat performs to alleviate stress. Stress more commonly leads to excessive self-grooming, but the licking may be directed toward you, too.Determine if there are any triggers for the licking, like visitors in your home or loud noises. If your cat’s anxiety is left untreated, the licking may progress to a compulsive behavior, at which point the licking takes over your cat’s life.

Your cat has a medical issue.

Your cat may lick you and/or objects in the environment due to a medical problem. Nausea, pain, or discomfort can lead to licking. In Bambu’s case, we discovered that inflammatory bowel disease was the cause of her licking. If your cat’s licking is excessive or just started recently, take them to be evaluated by your veterinarian.

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Whatever the cause of your cat’s licking, you may find the licking uncomfortable or even annoying.Never use punishment, including scolding, squirting water, shaking a jar of coins, or applying bitter-tasting spray. This may compromise your bond with your cat and may make your cat more anxious, which may exacerbate your cat’s licking.Here are some tips to minimize the licking:If your cat’s licking persists or is excessive, then they should be evaluated by your veterinarian to ensure there isn’t a medical or emotional disorder underlying it.

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.