The Purpose of a Cat's Lick and the Reasons Cats Lick People
K With their silky fur and fuzzy mitts, itties are incredibly adorable. That makes the discovery that their tongues have the consistency of low-grit sandpaper all the more surprising. Pet owners frequently don't realize this until they've been licked viciously by a cat, which can occasionally be incredibly uncomfortable. Why do cats lick you, then?
It turns out that there are a few key hypotheses about what it means when a cat licks you, and they don't just have bad intentions. In an effort to learn more about this issue, we talked to a few veterinarians about why cats lick people and how to stop the behavior.
Causes of Cats Licking Their Parents
Although each cat is unique, these are the most frequent causes of cats licking you.
1. It's an Expression of Love
Your cat may occasionally give you a tongue bath because they view you as a member of their family and feel completely safe around you. They recall how their mother cleaned them when they were kittens, and they are now applying what they learned.
"Kittens are licked by their mother cats, so right out of the womb kittens are trained that being licked is a form of affection," says Dr. Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch's chief veterinarian and medical director, Amanda Williams "If they reside in a multi-cat household, cats lick one another throughout their lives." ”
Since cats express and receive love by licking one another, it stands to reason that they would also lick their favorite people. Consider it as their way of kissing you and expressing their love and appreciation for you. Aw
2. They're claiming ownership of you
Cat toys, other animals, and you are all part of their territory, which they mark and establish by licking. When your cat licks you, it leaves their distinctive scent behind, warning intruders to stay away because this person is solely theirs.
Your cat does the same thing to announce to the world that you are theirs as mother cats do with their kittens to identify them as being hers. Cats who get along well together and are siblings or from different litters will lick each other as a form of social bonding. The act of licking you is intended to strengthen your relationship.
3. Replacement for Pacifier
Sometimes, cats who were orphaned or weaned before they were ready develop an oral fixation that causes them to lick themselves excessively. The theory is that they didn't get their fair share of nursing and that licking is the only way they can mimic the comforting suckling they received. Kneading you while purring in satisfaction and displaying what appears to be a smile on their face is another indication of early weaning.
4. They Can Calm Themselves
While a cat may lick itself for a variety of reasons, such as routine grooming behaviors, licking can also be used for self-soothing. Similar to when a baby sucking their thumb Sometimes they do it so naturally because it's a routine part of their day that it becomes second nature. In other instances, they may be licking excessively to get their attention away from something that is bothering them or stressing them out.
If your cat is licking themselves, people, or objects more frequently than usual, it's best to have your veterinarian check your cat out to rule out any underlying medical issues. Veterinarian Michelle Lugones works for Best Friends Animal Society.
5. They May Feel Panicked
Stress or anxiety is a further typical factor in excessive cat licking. In order to remove the trigger or work to desensitize your cat to those stimuli, you should try to identify what is making your cat feel anxious if you notice this behavior.
It's crucial to address any stress in the home environment because each cat has different stress triggers, according to Dr. Lugones "[It helps] to play and spend time with your cat every day, and to provide them with scratching posts and perches inside the house so they can engage in typical cat behaviors like scratching and hunting." ”
Your veterinarian can assist you in treating any medical or behavioral issues that are causing the excessive licking, depending on the underlying cause. Learn more about feline anxiety
They Enjoy Your Taste 6.
Many animals, including cats, enjoy the taste of things when they lick. As strange as it may sound, your cat may find lotion, salty skin, and even perfume to be alluring.
Cats like to lick our sweat because it contains sugar and salt, claims Dr. Williams "Wipe off and let yourself cool down before spending time with your cat if you don't want them to lick your sweat." ”
When using lotion or perfume, she advises keeping your cat out of the room while you apply the product and, if at all possible, covering lotion-covered body parts with clothing when petting your cat.
7. They're Trying to Alert You to a Problem
A cat may be licking you to get your attention, possibly to let you know that something is wrong as well as because it is bored and wants to play.
"Consult with your vet if the licking behavior is unusual for your cat to see if there is a medical problem, such as a stomach problem, injury, or wound," Dr. Williams suggests
Dr According to Lugones, if you observe someone licking the same area of their own body, it may be a sign that they are attempting to treat a wound. If a cat has allergies, fleas, a skin infection, or is in pain, she adds, "cats may over-groom themselves."
Consult your veterinarian if you have any worries about your pet licking excessively so that you can jointly identify the cause of the issue and address it.
Any time a cat's tongue touches your skin, it can be uncomfortable and occasionally even painful. In fact, a cat's strong tongue is capable of yanking out individual hair strands. Your cat's tongue has a lot of sharp, hair-like pieces on it, if you look at it closely.
These "papillae," which are actually keratin hooks that face backward, produce a surface that resembles sandpaper. Although it may seem strange, papillae are crucial for a cat's grooming. They appear to work like a comb to separate hairs and fur so that the dirt beneath can be seen.
Is It Okay for Your Cat to Lick You?
Yes, in general, it is okay to let your cat lick you. The only exceptions would be if you had something dangerous on your skin that could be dangerous for your cat or if you had any wounds or skin conditions that the licking might aggravate.
However, it can be fairly uncomfortable.
Since the cat's tongue is so rough, some people may find cat licking to be more uncomfortable than others, according to Dr. Williams "It might theoretically irritate your skin if you have very sensitive skin." And if a cat licks you while you have a cat allergy, you're more likely to react negatively than someone who doesn't have a cat allergy. ”
Getting a Cat to Stop Licking You
Although your cat's motivations for licking are frequently endearing, we would respect if you preferred if they stopped. Try the following advice to lessen your cat's licking:
- Avoid having your cat lick you by distracting them with toys, catnip, or by placing them on their scratching post.
- When your cat licks you, walk away.
- When they lick you, gently move their mouth away from you.
- Around your cat, put on long sleeves or shield your skin with a towel or blanket.
- Rub a perfume or lotion that your cat dislikes on your skin to stop them from licking you.
- When your cat licks, refrain from petting or talking to them as this could reinforce the behavior.
Never chastise or punish your cat; instead, use the advice given above to change the behavior.
In the end, cat licking is an instinctive behavior. There are ways to stop the behavior, and it's crucial to recognize instances where the licking is alarming. When in doubt, seek advice and solutions from your veterinarian.
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