Why Do Cats Lick Your Face?

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.

Why do cats lick their owners face?

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. … Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their owners to pass along the same sentiment.

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.

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.

Why do cats lick your face at night?

Your Skin is Salty. To some cats, the smell and taste of sweat might be interesting. As such, your cat licking you at night could be due to the simple fact that they want to lick the salt off you.

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.

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.

Who could not resist the charms of their pet cats? Once they put their paws on our laps or even snuggle against us, our hearts will always swell a bit due to the fuzzy feelings they give us. Of course, we will hug them back and also let them kiss us. But should you let your cat lick your face?

Wound Protection There are researchers in the Netherlands that were successful in identifying the chemical that is present in cat saliva which is called histatins. Also, a doctor from the London School of Medicine, Dr. Nigel Benjamin, found out that once your cats saliva comes into contact with your skin, it produces nitric oxide.

This helps in containing bacterial growth and also acts as a barrier to the wound, which will lessen the chances of infections. Health Risks Surely, there are a number of parasites and bacteria that live in your cats saliva. There are bacteria called Pasteurella which is housed in the mouth of your cat and this can cause lymph nodes and sometimes severe infections.

Another one is bartonella henselae that causes cat scratch fever and can also affect humans. When passed on to humans via licking, this can cause skin problems, blindness, brain disorders, and intestinal disease. Unhygienic Even if you have the most conscientious cat when it comes to cleaning herself, you are not 100% sure what her tongue and mouth came into contact with.

At the same time, when your cat goes outdoors, she might have eaten foreign things that also contain harmful substances. Undergo annual fecal examinations and use anti-parasite treatments Be on top of treating their ticks and fleas Make sure that you properly dispose of their poop Always clean the paws and mouth of your cat immediately after they go outside Feed a proper diet which is a mix of cooked, canned or dry food Therefore, you can follow these tips if you still want to establish a strong bond with your cat, but also preventing him from licking your face.

If your cat is beside you while you are watching a movie, make sure that you also get to keep an eye on him when he springs into action to go lick your face. When your cat lies peacefully beside you without going near your face, always reward him with a treat or an affectionate pet or hug. Your cats tongue feels rough because it is covered in papillae which is the same material that is present in their claws.

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.

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. 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.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Face?

You should be happy when your cat licks you because it means that they trust you and feel safe with you. The same thing goes when they groom their fellow cats as it is a sign of social bonding and respect.For your cat, you are a true member of the family and she is reinforcing this idea by cleaning you, just like how her mother cleaned her when she was a kitten. Sweet stuff, right?On the other hand, your cat may also be licking your face as a sign of anxiety. One possible condition is feline hyperesthesia, this is when they compulsively lick you and their bodies in order to comfort themselves.However bad that may sound, they are still licking you since they are seeking some sort of relief from the stress that they are feeling.

1. Wound Protection

There are researchers in the Netherlands that were successful in identifying the chemical that is present in cat saliva which is called histatins. In turn, this chemical helps speed up the healing of wounds. This is done by promoting the migration and the spread of new skin cells.Therefore, if you have a wound on your face, besides putting medical creams on it, your cat’s saliva will help your wound to heal. This chemical is also responsible for healing your cat’s wounds and pretty much explains why they lick their own wounds.Also, a doctor from the London School of Medicine, Dr. Nigel Benjamin, found out that once your cat’s saliva comes into contact with your skin, it produces nitric oxide.This helps in containing bacterial growth and also acts as a barrier to the wound, which will lessen the chances of infections.More than that, the researchers from the University of Florida where able to isolate a protein from cat saliva and it is called “Nerve Growth Factor.” This protein is responsible for at least halving the time it takes for wounds to heal.

2. Building Trust

As mentioned earlier, your cat licks you because he trusts you. Therefore, if you let him lick your face, it is a sign that you are honored for him to groom you. In turn, he will also feel that you trust him.This is special for those new cat owners who gets licked by their cats for the first time. This means that he or she is slowly opening up to you. Rejecting their act of affection via licking your face, might make them that you do not like them.

1. Health Risks

Surely, there are a number of parasites and bacteria that live in your cat’s saliva. Obviously, when they lick your face, those will be transferred to you.There are bacteria called “Pasteurella” which is housed in the mouth of your cat and this can cause lymph nodes and sometimes severe infections. Another one is “bartonella henselae” that causes cat scratch fever and can also affect humans.These bacteria may cause infections to your face. However, no infections from these bacteria that are of the deadly kind have been reported. However, bacteria like “campylobacter,” “clostridia,” “E. coli,” and “salmonella” can cause serious intestinal diseases in humans.There are also cats that have single-celled parasites or parasitic worms. When passed on to humans via licking, this can cause skin problems, blindness, brain disorders, and intestinal disease.

2. Unhygienic

Even if you have the most conscientious cat when it comes to cleaning herself, you are not 100% sure what her tongue and mouth came into contact with. She might have licked her anus before licking your face, which makes the transfer of feces to your face possible.At the same time, when your cat goes outdoors, she might have eaten foreign things that also contain harmful substances. This may lead you to develop fungal infections on your face.

Distract Your Cat

Paying attention to the movement of your cat is key here. If your cat is beside you while you are watching a movie, make sure that you also get to keep an eye on him when he springs into action to go lick your face.It is handy to have his favorite toy near you so that when he goes to lick your face, you can distract him by dangling the toy near his face. If he is not a fan of toys and still wants to lick your face, you can distract him with your hands.You can playfully wave your hands in front of his face and he will think that you want to play with him, instead of preventing him from licking you. Further, you can distract him by going in for s snuggle before letting him reach your face.

Positive Reinforcement Training

This solution will be great in the long run as your cat will know that licking your face is a big no-no. This will make him understand that you are not letting him lick your face not because you do want to bond with him.Further, you also do not have to worry about your cat surprising you with a lick.What you can do is to establish that the “getting near your face” is a no-go zone. When your cat lies peacefully beside you without going near your face, always reward him with a treat or an affectionate pet or hug. He will eventually understand that he should not go near your face.