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Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

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 …

When I adopted Bambu, my adorable orange kitty with arguably the world’s 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.

Like many other cat parents, I set out to understand why cats lick us. Here’s some insight on cat licking—whether it means that your cat likes you or there’s an issue that you need to get checked out.

Is It Normal For Cats to Lick You?

Cats spend up to 8% of their waking time grooming (and 50% napping), so licking in general is a normal behavior for cats.1

Anyone who has been tongue-bathed by a cat will agree that a cat’s tongue is less like a soft sponge and more like a sandpaper loofah. This is because your cat’s tongue is covered in hundreds of tiny, firm, backward-facing spines called papillae. These spines help remove dirt and loose fur from your cat’s hair coat and cover the fur in saliva to keep your cat cool.2

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 expressing her affection for you.

Your cat’s licking may be an affiliative behavior, which is a friendly, altruistic behavior. Mothers groom their kittens, and cats may groom one another, which is called allogrooming. This grooming strengthens their social bonds, so your cat may groom you to nurture your relationship.

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 identifying you as part of their group.

Cats communicate by marking objects and other animals with their scents, and one reason why mother cats lick their kittens may be to create a familiar group scent. Similarly, your cat may lick you as a way of identifying you.

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.

Is It Safe to Let Your Cat Lick You?

Accepting a bath from your cat is usually safe, but there are some potential risks. Cats carry bacteria in their mouths, which can lead to local or systemic infection if a cat licks an open wound. Immunocompromised people are most at risk. Acquiring a disease from your cat is very rare, but to be safe, don’t let your cat lick your face or any cuts on your skin.

Some medical ointments may also be harmful to your cat when licked. If you apply any products to your skin or hair, inform your veterinarian to determine whether the product may be potentially dangerous to your feline.

How To Stop a Cat From Licking You

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:

  • Cover your skin with long-sleeved clothing or a small towel when you interact with them, and provide a food puzzle or toy.

  • When your cat starts licking, get up and walk away. If your cat is licking for attention,  ignoring the licking should cause the behavior to subside. Don’t ignore your cat completely, but only when they lick you. 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.

  • Try tossing a cat toy or treat away from you. When your cat follows the toy or food, then you can get up and walk away.

  • When your cat interacts with you without licking, reinforce the behavior by rewarding them with praise, petting, or play.

  • Give your cat plenty of environmental enrichment. There is never too much! Purchase a variety of toys, hide all but 5-6 toys, and rotate them every few days to create novelty. Provide vertical spaces such as cat trees and perches, along with other hiding places for your cat, and devote at least 15 minutes to interacting with your cat three times daily.

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.

Resources

1. Eckstein RA and Hart BJ. (2000). The organization and control of grooming in cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 68(2):131-140.

2. Noel AC and Hu DL. (2018). Cats use hollow papillae to wick saliva into fur. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1809544115.

Featured Image: iStock.com/sdominick

See Also:

Why Cats Knead

Why Does My Cat Lick Me? 13 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love

My cat never licks me. But my friends’ cats act like they are grooming their humans as one of their own. It is perfectly understandable to want to know why cats do this. We are spending so much time…

Why Does My Cat Lick Me

My cat never licks me.

But my friends’ cats act like they are grooming their humans as one of their own. It is perfectly understandable to want to know why cats do this.

We are spending so much time with our cats and understanding our feline companion’s behavior is key to a healthy relationship between us and our cats.

Why Do Cats Lick?

I am sure you have noticed that cats’ tongues are very weird.

While dog tongues are smooth like humans, cats’ are rough and feel like sandpaper.

This is because their tongues are covered in papillae, which are made of keratin. These papillae are made of the same material as their claws. It allows them to drink water and groom themselves.

Cats have a reputation for being incredibly clean. The way their tongues are shaped helps them remove dirt from their shiny fur.

Preening

If for some reason her tongue does not manage to clean her fur, she will use her teeth and nibble gently to get rid of any residue or matted fur. This hypnotic and calm self-grooming act is called preening.

Cats are self-cleaning animals; this comes from birth.

The mother bites and licks to open the placenta and helps the baby to breathe for the first time. She licks the kitten till she is no longer wet from amniotic fluid. The mother has to lick her kittens every few hours to help them urinate and defecate till the third week, which is when kittens can start to do these things themselves.

While this act is for hygiene maintenance for the kittens, it also reinforces the bond between them. It is a behavior that sticks with them even when they become adults, even if they are with other adult cats.

If you introduce two cats and they get used to each other, you will witness them starting to groom one another as a sign of affection between them.

In some cases, you might witness that some cats lick themselves excessively. This is not normal behavior, in fact, it is a sign of a high level of stress or anxiety. It is a way to release their accumulated tension. When they lick you a lot, this is also a sign of stress and it is called psychogenic alopecia. This can lead to bald spots or rashes.

You should try to find the cause of the stress to see if it is something you can eliminate in order to improve their well-being. The cause of the stress can be many things such as a new member joining the household, loud noises, unfamiliar smells or a new animal.

If you cannot find the cause and your cat keeps doing it, I would advise you to take your furry companion to the vet to see if there is a physiological problem.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

If your cat licks you, take it as a compliment!

First, we need to understand one thing: Dogs see you as their owner and cats see you –if they want to– as their pack member. They see you as a big (size-wise) cat. If they like you, they will show you affection as their mother showed them.

This affection can come in many different forms and it may not always be very nice.

They might preen, knead, or headbutt you. They might also bring you “gifts” like dead or alive mice, birds, lizards, or various insects because they see you as a horrible hunter and think you need help in that department.  They usually decide whether or not to bring these gifts alive based on how bad of a hunter they think you are. But hey, that is a different topic.

Cats are territorial animals.

They have different methods of delimiting their territory. This is not only limited to marking their space. It can include objects and humans as well. They mark you with their smell to let everyone know that you belong to them. Licking can allow them to exchange scents to strengthen their bond with you.

Your cat might lick you and rub her face against your body. Cats have scent glands at the top of their heads and they “mark” you with it during those head bunt sessions.

You can observe this behavior a lot more if you pet another animal and then come home and let your cat smell you.

This is to let other cats know who you belong to.

Although this type of behavior is perfectly normal, it can cause territorial problems at home if you have more than one cat, so be careful with this.

Another reason for excessive licking can be oral fixation which develops in some cats who were orphaned or weaned prematurely. Because they couldn’t suckle their mom as kittens, licking can be a substitute for that experience.

Therefore, if your cat licks you, take it as a compliment!

Last but not least, if you have a senior cat that has taken a liking to lick you all of a sudden, you might want to head to the vet because this could be a sign of hyperthyroidism which can cause behavior changes in cats.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me and Then Bite Me?

We are all familiar with this scenario: One moment your cat is licking you so peacefully that you are recording it to send to some friends to show how adorable she is. And then, suddenly, she bites you!

There is no one simple answer to this situation that would explain everything and stop them from doing it.

Cats lick and groom us as a sign of affection. In these intimate grooming sessions, there is a possibility that your cat might bite you while she licks you. This is due to using her teeth because she cannot remove the “dirt”. But also, it might be a sign that she is angry or that she wants to play with you.

You might think that she came to you and started to groom you as her choice but this doesn’t change the fact that she might all of a sudden feel that it is enough and wants to leave or be left alone.

Nonetheless, congratulations! You are part of her family.

Cats are weird. When you say their name or make eye contact, they turn into this furball and show their bellies and hypnotize you into petting them. And the moment you touch that soft, fluffy, irresistible belly, they bite you.

Sometimes you just pet your cat exactly where she shows she wants you to pet her and after a few touches, she starts biting. I am sure every person who likes cats must have gone through this at least one time.

If she starts biting you when you are petting her and she thinks that it is a game, then you have a few options.

If your cat is a kitten, then it will be easier to teach them that biting is not okay. You need to be consistent and when she bites you, you should stop showing affection immediately and react vocally by saying “no!”. This is how they will understand that biting is not something you approve and in order to have your attention, they have to change this behavior. You also need to vocally state that you do not approve of this and that it hurts you.

If you want further information on different causes of biting, you may refer to my earlier article called why does my cat bite me?

When cats are part of a litter, and they hurt each other while playing, they will let each other know by biting back or meowing angrily. While you tell your cat that she hurts you when she bites, you should encourage positive attitudes to show her what is acceptable.

But if you play with her using your hands and feet, she will see them as toys that she can play with and bite. Always use toys when you are having playtime with your cat.

If you have an adult cat, you should do the same, but it might take longer for them to accept and adapt. Do not yell at them, never ever hit them. You need to be patient. Consistency is very essential.

While we cannot read the minds of our cats, we can try to read their behaviors and learn to understand how they say, ‘I love you’. It gets easier after spending a bit of time with them.

Here are some things cats do that show they feel affectionate towards you:

13 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love

1. Showing Their Belly

Like most animals, cats do not show their stomachs to just anyone.

It is the most vulnerable part of their body. You might have already noticed that stray cats are always very alert even when they look like they are sleeping.

Their paws are tucked underneath, and they never show their belly.

If your cat rolls over on her back to show you her fuzzy belly, this is an indication that she feels comfortable around you. She feels loved and protected by you, rendering herself defenseless.

2. Following You Around

This is a type of behavior that you would expect from your dog but when your cat does it, it means she cannot get enough of your companionship.

You can notice this especially if it is not close to her feeding time. She will follow you room to room, even jump onto furniture to get closer to you. When you observe this, you can be sure that she loves your company. She might even come to fetch you if you stay in bed too long without her or if you close the door to the bathroom and try to have some alone time.

If you close your bedroom door at night and don’t let her in, she will repeatedly scratch the door or meow constantly until you give up, open the door and let her in. It’s all out of love! Well, maybe a little bit out of nosiness as well.

3. Head-butting

This behavior may seem very odd, but it shows that your cat absolutely loves you and cares about you.

Cats have glands that are hidden in their cheeks and heads and various other parts of their bodies. When she even lightly brushes against you, she can still mark you with her scent to declare you as her property or her family. However, you would like to believe. For kittens, this familiar scent is a great comfort and it helps them to calm down.

4. Rubbing Against Your Legs

Sometimes, when you come home after a long workday feeling very tired and your cat runs through the door to greet you, rubs herself against your legs and she immediately makes you feel like she is happy to see you.

You are right to feel this because that is how she shows her affection. That, and she is putting her scent on you as a way of claiming you as her own. Just like when she head-butts you. It helps you develop a deeper bond with your cat to allow her to do it.

5. Sitting on You

Cats are known for not being interested in physical contact but once you meet a friendly cat, you will see that quite a bit of them like to be in physical contact and sit on your lap.

It is due to both showing affection and using your body heat in cold weather. But you may also see some very stubborn cats who will follow you around and try to sit on your lap or lean on your body even when it is too hot. Then you can be sure that she is doing it to be close to you and to feel your presence.

This happens a lot more if you are living alone with your cat. It gets easier for them to bond with you and get used to you.

6. Kneading

Kneading is when your cat uses her paws to push in and out against a surface like your lap, or arm. Just like making biscuits.

This is one of the things you can be sure that means your cat is saying “I love you” to you.

If your cat comes up to your lap and starts kneading while you pet her, she is returning the fondness. Unluckily, this show of affection can be very painful. Because the happier she gets, the harder she will dig in with her sharp nails.

Regular nail trimming can be very helpful in this situation. If you don’t know how to do it, ask your vet to do it for you during her regular check-ups.

To ease the painfully sharp nails, you can also use a soft blanket as a barrier between her and your body. It helps a ton.

7. Sleeping on You

You might have a king-size bed and a huge sofa, but your cat will still somehow find sitting on your lap or sleeping on your chest a lot more comfortable.

I don’t know who wouldn’t like this scenario but in case you are wondering why she does this; she does it because she wants to be close to you.

8. Responding to Your Call

When you have a guest over and they want to get your cat’s attention by calling her name, your cat can act like she is deaf.

But, when you call her, she immediately responds. Well, this should make you proud, shouldn’t it?

9. Purring

You might have heard your cat purr many times on many different occasions before, but you may not have realized that this is a loving purr.

Cats’ purr can mean a variety of things. It can be from delight, an expression of concern or even to ease their pain. It can range from a soft and subtle to incredibly loud truck-like purr. You can be sure that she is doing it to show her affection and contentment.

Also meowing. Cats don’t meow to other cats to communicate, they do it only to humans. Your cat is talking to YOU. If you pay attention, you can notice the difference between meows when she tries to tell you what she wants.

10. Approaching You With Their Tail Pointing Straight-up

The tail of a cat works as a barometer into how your cat feels about you or her habitat.

You can read all her emotions from her tail. All you have to do is pay attention.

It affects your cat’s perceptions about you. Another way to understand a cat’s feelings is when you see her tail straight up while she gently flickers the tip of her tail. The tail’s shape usually looks like a candy cane, but it slightly quivers and well, it is furry.

They also say that this tail curve “is sometimes called the happy tail dance.” You can read a lot of emotions from her tail such as whether she is in a good mood or on edge, scared or content.

Some people say that this is one of the reasons why cats cannot get along with dogs.

Dogs wag their tails super-fast when they are happy, and it gets faster and faster as their excitement increases whereas cats wag their tails fast when they are angry or annoyed.

11. Bringing You Presents

Your cat might not bring you toys to play with but there is a bigger chance that she may bring you a dead animal or worse, animals. It depends on how “lucky” you are.

You might find this very weird, but this is also another way of your cat showing you that she likes you and she cares about you. This is how she likes to show her love towards you.

If your cat loves you and if she is a good hunter, she will bring a lot of gifts to you. Natural born hunter cats will catch various things from toys to birds, socks to mice and unfortunately, they will share the prize with the ones they cherish.

There may also be instances where you might see your cat playing with a dead mouse (or one that wishes to be dead!) and after that, the mouse is nowhere to be seen.

In a way, you might think that this is better because you don’t have to clean up after her but you might also want to reconsider your relationship with your cat since she doesn’t want to share this gift with you.

However, cats may also bring you dead animals because they think you are a bad hunter. If they bring you an alive pray, then it means they are trying to teach you how to hunt. If it is dead, then they think you are a very, very bad hunter and you are not yet capable of killing prey.

So, they bring you dead one for you to not starve to death. Come to think of it, it is a very nice gesture.

12. Making Eye Contact With You/Slow Blink

It is a very hard thing to see a stray cat blink or make long eye contact with you.

If you try to make eye contact for a long time it makes them feel agitated and threatened. They usually get really uncomfortable and sometimes they leave. This happens when the cat is tameless. It is a whole other deal with your cat.

If your cat is staring at you and slowly blinking, she is showing you that she trusts you and the slow blink is the equivalent of being kissed by her.

This might be the easiest body language for humans to understand. Just watch her eyes and see if she will open her eyes wide and then slowly blink to tell you she loves and trusts you. This is referred to as a ‘kitty kiss’. Cats only make eye contact with the people they like.

When there are other cats around, you may see cats slow blinking a lot. This is a way for them to let other cats know that everything is cool.

13. Tolerating the Affection

You might realize that your cat doesn’t like it when you kiss her, but she tolerates it. S

he might duck, she might give you grumpy looks but if she doesn’t run away, you can consider this as a victory.

In some cases, they like to touch you before you try to pet them! There are a ton of videos on the internet where cats are tapping their human’s shoulder and demanding to get some affection.

Can Cats Be Obsessed With Their Owners?

Your cat getting overly attached to you can happen from the first time you two meet, or you might have a bad start but gradually she learns to trust you. It all depends on how you met.

If you rescued a cat when she was in bad shape, you will have a quite different bond from a cat adopted from a shelter or from someone that treated her well. If she was a stray, wounded or scared, it might and probably will take you a long time to make her truly trust you.

Because unfortunately, most people are not nice towards stray animals. They think strays are dirty disease carriers and will attack them for no reason. All these negative behaviors cause the cat trauma and it becomes very hard for her to trust people and you end up trying to change her perspective towards people. She will probably be terrified of noises and sudden movements.

If you are patient and gentle you will be rewarded with gratitude. She will not trust other people as much as she trusts you. This might look like she is obsessed with you. After all, cats are not famous for their trusting abilities.

There are some possible explanations for why cats get attached to only one person. It could be the person’s approach, voice, smell or simply how that person treats her.

When cats are with their trusted human, they get chattier and playful. But when they are with strangers, they are much less chatty, and you can see that all they want is to leave the premises immediately.

This type of behavior can be seen in young children when they are with adults they are not acquainted with.

So, knowing that cats are not very into trusting people and seeing that she cannot get enough of you is a priceless and very fulfilling experience.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A thorough cat licking isn't always the most comfortable experience. This is because cat tongues have backward-facing hooks that are meant to pull and clean their fur the way a comb would. Remember, to your cat being licked feels good, it doesn't know it is hurting you. When a cat licks you it's just trying to show some love. 

People also ask
More FAQs for why do cats lick me
  • Why do cats like licking their owners?

    Why Do Cats Like Licking Their Owners? 1. A Cat Feels Extremely Comforting During Licks Experts say that many kittens, who are weaned early from their mums or the ones that are orphan, develop oral behaviors like licking and suckling sooner. In fact, they exhibit such babyish habits even in their adulthood.
    Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
  • Why is my cat constantly licking his paws?

    Excessive paw licking can be caused by injury, allergies or anxiety. Treatment will vary based on the cause. Injury. If your cat is excessively licking his paws, first check his paws for any signs of injury. Excessive licking of an area often indicates pain that the cat is trying to treat. Look for stickers, burrs or splinters stuck in the foot.
    Excessive Paw Licking in Cats
  • Why do cats randomly bite their owners?

    The most common reason that cats bite their owners isn’t that they have an aggressive cat, it’s because they are trying to play! While sharp teeth or claws may not feel very “playful” to you, hunting behavior equals play behavior for your kitty. This means stalking, pouncing, biting, and kicking.

    It’s no secret that cats are some of the most aloof creatures around. However, if they are in a particularly affectionate or playful mood, they won’t hesitate to approach and initiate interaction with their owners. Every cat owner knows that felines can be quite clingy and expressive if the mood is right, but why do cats rub against you then bite?

    As a general rule, cats rub themselves against their owners and then bite when they are happy or overstimulated. In some instances, it’s a bad habit they acquired when they were just kittens. Cats can sometimes bite while rubbing due to aggression caused by either frustration or pain.

    There are many traits that make cats some of the best pets on the planet, from curious to friendly.

    One trait of theirs that can leave their owners both captivated and guarded is unpredictability, evidenced mostly by cats biting their owners out of the blue. If you would like to know why your cat likes to bite while it’s rubbing itself against you or doing any other cute thing, such as purring or kneading, read on.

    But before anything else, let’s answer this question…

    Why do cats rub against you?

    Cats rub against their owners to transfer their scent onto them. This act makes cat owners the possession of the cats they own. Cats rub against their owners to make them feel safe and protected, too. If their owners have picked up scents outside, cats erase those by rubbing themselves against them.

    Refrain from assuming that your cat is rubbing itself against you because it wants to clean itself.

    Cats clean themselves by licking themselves. And when your cat licks you, it wants to either clean you or say to you that it loves you. It’s for the same reason why a mommy cat licks its kittens. Unfortunately, just like when rubbing itself against you, a cat may also suddenly bite while it’s grooming you.

    Now that we have established the reason why cats rub against their owners, it’s time to answer why then they bite.

    Affection

    cat biting
    Image credit: Canva

    People show their affection for one another in different ways — kissing, holding hands, hugging, etc. Cats may not be able to lock lips or wrap their arms around their owners alright, but they have their own ways of expressing their affection. Biting is one of them, which is what humans fondly refer to as a “love bite”.

    It may sound like it’s painful and bloody. However, a love bite is a gentle bite that usually does not break the skin.

    That’s because cats deliver a love bite when they are happy and relaxed. It’s nothing like a bite felines make while they are hissing, spitting and growling or with dilated pupils, arched backs and bushy tails.

    If you are a new cat owner and you have never experienced a feline love bite before, the first time may leave you surprised and terrified, too. This is especially true if you have yet to completely get to know your furry pet’s personality and its full range of emotions. But worry not because a love bite, like the name suggests, is a sign that it loves you.

    When a cat gives you a love bite, remember the following things:

    • Do not pull your hand away. Because a love bite rarely leads to an open wound, refrain from yanking your finger or hand out of your cat’s mouth. This may cause your skin to end up scratched, and your cat’s teeth to wind up loose or knocked out. Be still and allow the cat to quit giving you a love bite.
    • Do not reprimand your cat. A love bite comes from a good place, and it will break your cat’s heart if you will respond by yelling or hitting or spraying it with water. If you don’t want to receive any more love bites from it, what you can do is walk away from your cat for it to realize that you don’t like it.

    Getting a nibble from a cat could mean a few other things, too, which is why we should answer this…

    Why do cats bite gently?

    First and foremost, cats bite gently to show their affection. It’s more common in cats that have had a litter as gently biting their little ones is a way to make them feel comfortable. Sometimes, cats bite gently to invite their owners to play. It’s also a way of telling they have had enough play.

    To minimize being gently bitten by your cat, offer it toys — we will talk more about cat toys below.

    Acquired Habit

    Like kids, kittens love to play a lot. They play by chasing, stalking, pouncing, clawing, scratching and biting one another. To humans, it may seem extremely violent and dangerous. But to little cats, it’s absolute fun.

    Playtime among kittens is like hitting two birds with one stone — it gives them the opportunity to have some fun and excitement while teaching them hunting skills that will come in very handy when they’re older. One very important skill that they need to develop is biting. Alas, when they’re older and playing with people, they may still bite, too.

    Needless to say, one reason why your cat suddenly bites you during playtime is that it’s an acquired habit that it finds difficult to let go of. It’s kind of fine when your cat is just a tiny kitten. It’s a different story if it’s already old and big and its fangs are massive and sharp. Biting during play can sometimes break your skin.

    Luckily, there’s no need to stop playing with your cat just to keep your hands free of wounds and scabs.

    All you have to do is get your hands on some cat toys, many of which your feline will find more delightful to bite than your different body parts. When shopping for toys for your pet, opt for those that mimic some of the qualities of prey animals, such as those with fur, feathers and noisemakers.

    What’s really nice about most cat toys is that your cat can play with them without your involvement. So, in other words, you can have some peace and quiet while your whiskered chum is having a blast.

    Kneading is another habit from kittenhood that cats do, which brings us to this question…

    Why do cats knead?

    Cats knead to make themselves feel relaxed and comfortable, such as before taking a nap. It’s a leftover behavior while they were mere kittens, which they carried out while breastfeeding from their mother cats to stimulate milk flow. Adult cats knead their owners to display their love and affection.

    Your cat kneading you can make you go “awww!” However, at times, it can also make you go “ouch!”

    Cats rarely extend their claws when kneading. Unfortunately, some felines knead with their claws extended, which can leave whoever they are kneading in a great deal of pain — the happier cats are, the harder they knead. This is when the importance of keeping your four-legged pet’s claws trimmed, which is good for your skin and furniture, too.

    Overstimulation

    cat biting
    Image credit: Canva

    Too much of a good thing is bad, and this applies to cats when in a playful mood. If their owners make the mistake of making them feel too excited, it could cause the cats to scratch and bite.

    It’s because of this exactly why you should do your best to know when your feline pet is already overstimulated. Usually, it will exhibit the following when it’s time for you to stop tickling it: twitching fur, flickering or flattening ears, swinging tail, enlarging pupils, increasing vocalization.

    Keep your peepers peeled when playing with your cat for several minutes. When it seems to be getting overstimulated, stop and then get away. Otherwise, your cat might introduce you to its claws and fangs.

    This may leave you thinking that you are causing your cat to feel frustrated for abruptly stopping playtime. Because of this, you may be tempted to resume petting and tickling your cat. Keep in mind that you should avoid this at all costs. Since your cat’s adrenaline levels are still high, playtime could easily lead to wartime.

    What you need to do instead is wait for your kitty cat to calm down for a few minutes. Some cats bounce back from overstimulation faster than others. Similarly, some cats become overstimulated quicker than the rest. Before approaching your pet again, check that the various signs of overstimulation that we mentioned earlier are already gone.

    And this takes us to a critical question that needs an answer…

    Why does my cat bite me when I pet her belly?

    The abdomen houses numerous vital organs, making it a vulnerable part. Cats know this, which is why they will do everything necessary to protect it, especially in the presence of a predator. Rubbing a cat’s belly area activates a protective response that could cause the feline to scratch and bite.

    Needless to say, you should refrain from rubbing your cat’s belly. This is true even if it’s lying on its back, which felines tend to do each time someone they trust is around.

    Besides the abdominal area, you should avoid rubbing your pet’s paws and tails, too. You should also steer clear of touching their whiskers. On the other hand, your cat absolutely loves being petted on the top of the head, around the ears, cheeks and chin. They also love it when you rub the base of its tail.

    Redirected Aggression

    Since cats are excellent hunters and extremely curious by nature, it doesn’t come as a big surprise why there are many stimuli in the environment that can fire them up. Unfortunately, it’s not always that felines can get what they want, which is why it can be quite easy for them to wind up frustrated or enraged.

    This is when a cat may redirect its aggression toward something or someone else, such as its owner.

    Cats and humans share more things in common than you think, and one of them is the penchant for redirecting their aggression if they cannot direct it toward the trigger.

    It’s not uncommon for a person, especially one who’s terrible at expressing his or her anger in a healthy and acceptable manner, to yell at innocent people, smash things against the wall and slam doors. One may even resort to self-harm or alcohol or drug abuse to deal with his or her aggression.

    Well, cats are like humans in that sense. However, the majority of felines choose to redirect their aggression by biting just about anything that’s within their easy access, such as the leg or hand of their owners.

    Reducing aggression in your cat is essential if you no longer want to end up with scratches and bites due to its aggression redirected toward you. For instance, if you have several cats and some cannot seem to get along, it’s a good idea to separate your cats that act aggressively toward each other.

    In some instances, seeking the help of a cat behavior consultant or specialist makes perfect sense.

    Besides aggression redirected toward you, your cat may bite you out of the blue for different reasons. And this is why this question needs to be answered…

    Why does my cat bite me unprovoked?

    cat biting
    Image credit: Canva

    Cats bite unprovoked when they want something from their owners or feel that their owners are not giving them enough attention. In some instances, cats bite all of a sudden due to having an extreme startling reflex. Cats that hate surprises or being spooked can bite their owners unprovoked.

    There is one more very common reason behind a cat biting unexpectedly, and we’ll talk about it next.

    Pain

    Cats are known to be affectionate and expressive. Well, except during those times when they prefer to be left alone. It’s also their nature to deal with pain on their own, which is embedded in their DNA makeup — if their ancestors, wild cats, showed they’re in pain, their enemies would take the opportunity to attack and kill them.

    Because of this, it’s very rare for domestic cats to let their owners know that they are experiencing pain.

    And when the pain is too much for them to bear, they will inform their owners without delay. In many instances, felines will express their pain through a bite.

    Immediately check your cat for the presence of injuries, such as cuts, wounds, bruises and swollen joints. If there is no physical evidence that your pet is in some type of pain, the problem could be coming from within. For this, it’s a must that you take your pawed pal to the vet for a thorough assessment.

    Was your cat diagnosed by a vet with a health problem in the past? There is a possibility that it has come back or worsened, and it’s causing your cat pain. Felines are vulnerable to an assortment of chronic diseases, or diseases that last for a long time, which require ongoing medical attention and can affect one’s quality of life.

    In cats, some of the most common chronic diseases are skin conditions. Others include liver disease, endocrine disorders, cancer and obesity, which can cause many serious complications if not managed.

    Besides biting you when in pain, a cat may also vocalize. And this brings us to this question…

    Why do cats purr?

    Cats purr when they are in a positive and relaxing mood. They purr when they are chilling out, nursing and grooming themselves or their kittens. Cats purr, too, when their owners stroke them. However, cats may also purr when they are stressed or experiencing something unfavorable, such as pain.

    Because different cats tend to purr for different reasons, it’s important to understand your own cat.

    When cats are in pain, it’s not just biting and purring that they do. These furry creatures also exhibit reduced appetite, decreased interest in playing and socializing, lethargy and hiding away.

    Just Before You Play With Your Cat

    The so-called love bites rarely break the skin. But from time to time, depending on the mood of cats, love bites can draw blood, too, which can potentially lead to a secondary infection.

    When your cat rubs against you, avoid simulating it excessively to keep it from biting you. Needless to say, it’s a must to know some of the telltale signs that your feline pal is already overstimulated. And if it seems like biting while rubbing against you is a habit acquired from an earlier age, it’s a good idea to use toys during playtime.

    In some instances, cats rub against you and then bite as a result of aggression. If the cause is frustration, allow your cat to realize that taking it out on you is wrong. Similarly, give it time to cool off.

    Take your cat to the veterinary clinic if it seems like its aggression is the result of pain or discomfort from a physical injury or an undiagnosed health problem. Allowing your trusted vet to give your four-legged friend a thorough assessment is necessary for diagnosis and treatment, which can help put an end to unprovoked biting.

    Observing your cat’s body language and the sounds it makes can help you understand it better.

    The Pet Rescue is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs which compensate us for referring traffic.


    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.
    Why Do Cats Bite Their Owners?
  • Why do cats clean themselves so much?

    Why Do Cats Groom Themselves So Much?A Little Bit About Cat’s Grooming. Cats start grooming themselves at the age of 4 weeks. ...Grooming Reasons Apart From Cleaning. Cats like to stay clean all the time but there are some other health reasons why they do so. ...Cat Overgrooming. Most cats spend 30%-50% of their waketime grooming themselves. ...Cat Undergrooming. ...Final Note. ...
    Why Do Cats Groom Themselves So Much?
5 Reasons Why Cats Lick Their Owners

Kittens and cats tend to be social groomers; that is, they love to groom their family members. They lick us because they want us to be clean and healthy too. They will commonly try to bite and pull off any foreign object on your body. This could be a ring, a sock, or even a mole.

I am an avid animal lover and love to write about cats in particular.

Have you ever wondered why your cat licks you all the time?

Have you ever wondered why your cat licks you all the time?

Photo by Gabriel Crişan from Pexels

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

We all love our cats—from their cute little paws to their sometimes inscrutable facial expressions.

On the other hand, you might wonder about some of the things they do. I mean, is it really necessary to try to scale a wall only to fall on their butts, or to yank your favorite teddy off of the shelf a thousand times a day? Here's another age-old question: "Why does my cat lick me all the time?"

There are many different possible answers, and it is up to you to determine which one fits your cat.

Have you ever wondered just why your kitten licks you so much? Perhaps it's because they think you are THEIR pet!

Have you ever wondered just why your kitten licks you so much? Perhaps it's because they think you are THEIR pet!

By Kenichi via Flickr

1. She's Grooming You

One of the many reasons that our cats lick us is because they are grooming us. Cats are notorious bathers! They love to lounge for hours at a time while only bathing and napping the day away. Cats are very clean animals, as you can probably tell by their neat appearance and well-maintained coats. For the most part, there is never a single hair out of place!

Cats will also turn this attention to us. Kittens and cats tend to be social groomers; that is, they love to groom their family members. They lick us because they want us to be clean and healthy too. They will commonly try to bite and pull off any foreign object on your body. This could be a ring, a sock, or even a mole. Should your cat groom you, you should take it as a sign that they care for your well being. Then again, many of us may take it as a sign that our cats are telling us, "PHEW! You're stinky and need a bath!"

Kitties love to lick! There are many possible reasons why they may be doing this.

Kitties love to lick! There are many possible reasons why they may be doing this.

By Jacob via Flickr

2. You Taste Good

Of course, this one might be a given. If you taste like a delicious steak, your cat is going to want to lick you- especially if you were not courteous enough to share a few bites with him or her! Kittens and cats love our food just as much as your dog does. If they don't get the chance to have any, they will resort to the next best option: getting a taste from you! Kitties may lick your fingers or face to see what they were missing out on, and will also lick your clothing if you dropped food on yourself. Don't worry though: these quick tastes won't be enough to harm your cat if you're worried about them ingesting human food.

3. It's a Survival Strategy

Cats are accustomed to bathing after eating in order to eliminate any evidence of food. It's a survival strategy to fend off predators! Therefore, it is quite possible that your kitty is trying to help protect you from predators by ridding you of any meal evidence.

4. Your Kitten Is Lonely

"Does my kitten lick me because she's lonely?" This is quite possible! Grooming (licking each other) is a very common social activity among cats. It is their favorite way to bond with each other, other than stampeding through the house together while terrorizing your breakables. When a kitten or a cat begins to feel lonely, they are going to try to groom and play. If you are away from home often (perhaps work or school), it is quite possible that your kitty just needs more bonding time. In this case, the best way to react is to "groom" her. You can do this by brushing the cat, petting her, or by scratching the kitty's favorite scratch spots (usually located behind the ears and at the tail base). Ensure that your cat or kitten gets enough attention; and if nothing else, get a playmate for the kitty!

How to Keep Your Kitty From Becoming Lonely

ObjectsSocialization

Leave the TV on

Hire a pet sitter

Use a treat dispenser

Get another kitten to be a playmate

Leave your favorite music playing while you're out

Invite family or friends to visit

5. Anxiety

Cats will overgroom due to anxiety, which might carry on over to you, the owner. If you notice that your cat has been off its rocker lately, then anxiety might just be the cause. Moving to a new home, gaining a new roommate, moving the furniture, and even a change in diet can bring on an anxiety issue. Try to determine any problem causing factors that may be in the kitty's environment if you think this might be the cause. No one likes to be stressed out or anxious; especially animals!

Why Are Cat Tongues So Rough and Spiky?

Cats and kittens have rough-looking tongues. They seem to have lots of spikes on them, much like the bristles of a boar bristle brush. This bristly structure of the cat tongue (the bristles are actually papillae) is made up of backward-facing taste buds that are actually a tool for survival. They are used to deep clean the coat, while also helping them to eat. They help the cat to remove flesh from bones (not a common occurrence for the modern house cat) and help them to remove food and debris from their coats. These papillae on the cats' tongues also help cats to drink. Believe it or not, they don't just dunk their tongues into the water and swallow whatever water is absorbed. Instead, their tongues are capable of yanking water upwards into a miniature column of water, and then they close their mouths quickly around the water. How cool is that!?

How Much Licking Is Too Much Licking?

Sometimes, our wonderful kitties may begin to lick too much. At first, we might not even notice it. All we see is an adorable kitten bathing in the sunlight or a kitty who might be licking some messy spills from the night's meal off of our clothes. Unfortunately, there is a point where licking becomes excessive and unhealthy. How and why does this happen?

When your cat begins to spend an excessive amount of time licking itself or you (let's say 30 minutes to an hour or more per session), it should set off a red flag. After a while of licking, your skin will become irritated. If the cat is only licking itself excessively, you may notice a thinning coat on your cat or even bald spots. As the problem worsens you will probably see irritated patches of skin that may even bleed or become infected.

There are several main causes for this issue:

  • Anxiety
  • Skin irritation or allergies
  • Parasites

Anxiety triggers cats to compulsively clean; anxiety may be a part of a cat's personality or it can be due to environmental stress. Skin irritations, allergies, and parasites can all cause itching or odd sensations on the cat's skin, enticing the cat to eliminate the problem the best way it knows how: licking and scratching! For most of these issues, a veterinarian can prescribe medications. Yes, there are anxiety and allergy medications available to pets!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Cats are cute on April 30, 2020:

There is a typo

There are 2 reason #4's and no reason #5

not david on March 26, 2020:

you lied to me it said 5 reasons

Frannie-Cakes on December 07, 2019:

"i lick my cat because she purrs when i do it"

...

Lmao! Does anybody else see that comment?! How am I the first to say something?! 16 months ago lmaooo.

Great article by the way! Thank you.

Kandy the Ferret on August 11, 2019:

My cat demands lots of attention, but she loves grooming me also. Although she doesn’t lick me a lot anymore.

Risandi jayasekara on June 09, 2019:

I lick to do

☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️

Dont need to know on November 04, 2018:

My cat licks me so much and purrs I had him for two months he Is 7 weeks he’s adorable but he’s a bad cat

He also has “wobbly cat syndrome”

His back legs don’t work

So he falls when he walks or runs

He runs like a bunny

someone on July 22, 2018:

i lick my cat because she purrs when i do it

Yes I do on May 20, 2018:

To donald duckling:

My cat which I have for 9 years sometimes does the same, she does love to have very sharp claws, perhaps that's the reason she sometimes comes to me for grooming

donald duckling on March 07, 2018:

I have owned/been owned by cats all my life and I have a unique (for me) situation in the licking department. One of my cats, LB, does this licking of my hands and then rubbing himself on it......trying to get me to 'groom' him. Not sure if this is due to the fact that he was found in the woods with his siblings as a kitten or not. I have had him for almost 5 years (his previous owner gave him up to fight a losing battle with cancer) and he has been anxious cat for 3.5 of the years he has been with me......... he's 12 now. In the last year or two since he's calmed down a bit, he insists that it is my job to 'groom' him by letting him lick my hand and then having me rub the sides of his face and body...... over and over again. He gets brushed, but that always ends with him trying to lick my hand and rub it. I don't have 30 minutes before bed each night to do this and it is seriously getting on my nerves. I have started to tell him no every time he tries to lick me, but i kind of feel bad for the guy. He has another cat that I adopted 1 month before him that will groom him, but he is really intent on having me do it.

I have never had this experience before with a cat, even the 2 that I raised from 1 week old. Has anyone else??

donald duckling on March 07, 2018:

@marie, keep an eye on your cat and the inappropriate urination because the stress could have inflamed his bladder. I have a boy that used to sometimes pee on my clothes and then in my bed if I didn't notice the clothes. He had a chronic inflamed bladder which turned into chronic UTIs, for a while it happened every six months or so. Once I tuned into the signs and gave him UTI when it started, it got much better. Now he hasn't had an episode in 1 1/2-2 years. Don't get upset at him because of the peeing, that will only make it worse; it is just his way of letting you know that something hurts.

The reason he is licking/kneading you every night is because it is probably his routine to groom before going to bed.... and he includes you in that.

Marie on February 28, 2018:

My cat licks my hands aswell as neading me every night for at least 20 minutes before he goes to sleep! He's done this from 2 months old.....

Can anyone tell me why??

Also he wakes me every night throughout the night doing whatever he can to piss me off,

About 3 months ago he started urinating in the house I found out this started after he was attacked by another cat and was told it was stress related!

I've brought spray to stop him and plug in stress relief which worked for a while then he started agian

Advice greatly appreciated please

anonimoose on February 22, 2018:

My cat is blind, and she accidentally licks me all the time trying to groom herself

Luis Laureano on August 03, 2017:

Thanks for the info, I had a feeling I was right about my cat grooming and bonding with me. I love my cat named Fatboy ☺

Soul on March 26, 2017:

Joker likes to groom and groom if he did something wrong. Including trying to bite if you pet him.

Beth on November 21, 2016:

I have two cats right rascals they are I just wake up in the middle of the night to find my cat trying to lick me lol

Terry h on November 03, 2016:

My oreo licks me and my hubby all the time and always licks herself too alot she also scratches at her ears and shakes her head i wonder if she has ear mites and or skin condition doesnt want you to pet her too much yet she is affectionate i will have to take her to the vet see whats what thanks for the post

Barry Bishop on September 28, 2016:

My experience tells me that licking behavior in cats is often a domination behavior. I've always allowed my cats to lick me as much as I could stand because it gave them the sense that while they were doing it, despite their almost total dependence on me, they were "the boss." To my mind, a happy, satisfied cat is the best kind! Thanks for the chance to tell about my little Skippy.

Barry Bishop on September 28, 2016:

In the 1980's I had a cat who I found near death in the Minnesota winter with a severed, severely infected paw (caught in a trap?). After he recovered, and was neutered, he was a serious behavior problem. He would attack me, biting and scratching. Famous animal behaviorist Dr. Robert K. Anderson (U. of MN Vet School , inventor of the Gentle Leader harness) taught me how to train him ("boot camp" style). He became my little buddy. He was a compulsive licker, and would lick my arm bald if I let him. I called him Skippy because of the way he walked with his right front paw missing. He's been dead over 25 years, I've had many cats since, but I still miss him.

Eric on July 21, 2016:

I appreciate all the neat information ! My kitty Honey Bear always licks me :) She was a rescue and a medium hair orange and white tabby and just saves me from the world daily !

Cheska on April 10, 2016:

My cat has bald spots due to excessive grooming, she has mites btw and I already took her to the vet for medication. Will my cat's fur grow back?

Amelia on April 10, 2016:

I love your cat

Alex on January 03, 2016:

Yes my male cat George licks me I think out of effection

angryelf (author) from Tennessee on April 29, 2014:

Thank you everyone! I'm glad all of you enjoy it! I used to have cats in the past who were big on licking; but I saw this question somewhere and decided that it would make an awesome hub :) Thanks for the support & interest!

travmaj from australia on April 29, 2014:

My daughter has the cats now, totally spoiled and much loved. And oh so bossy, they groom us all. Now we know why. Lovely hub and most informative. Thank you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 29, 2014:

I quite enjoy the care that they give me; they can lick all they want to. Good hub!

sheilamyers on April 29, 2014:

The cat I have now doesn't lick me that much, but last one loved to lick. He'd even lick my toes. YUCK! Usually it was my fingers or hair. He really loved sitting on the back of my chair and washing my hair for me. I ask the vet about it and he told me the same things you covered in this article. I'd say Pippen did it for the first three reasons you gave. This hub will really help people learn why cats lick people, especially those who are first time cat owners.

Jennifer Kessner from Pennsylvania on April 29, 2014:

Prince Fredward is the groomer! He's super social, and I wish I had a companion for him. (It might save me from some of his baths!)

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 29, 2014:

Our previous cats used to do this quite often, but our current cat just wants to chase butterflies outside. :)

angryelf (author) from Tennessee on April 28, 2014:

Thank you Peggy! Cats truly are awesome pets, I myself currently have two. They will terrorize our home all hours of the day and night... destroying everything within their paths... but I wouldn't trade them for anything! LOL! It's absolutely adorable when they cuddle up and bathe us. Thanks for jumping in and browsing my little ole corner :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2014:

We have 2 inside cats both of whom were strays. They are a joy and delight. Our female cat Peaches not only grooms Dusty, our male cat, but me as well on occasion. Ha! Up, useful and interesting votes.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me? Here's the Reason!

21-10-2021 · Cats don’t lick and bite just for the sake of it. If your cat does this frequently, it’s worth spending the time to discover the reason. As a show of affection and an invitation to play, your cat may lick and bite you. It might also mean it’s been overstimulated and needs to unwind.

21-10-2021

why does my cat lick me then bite me

A cat has a wide range of behaviors, and if you pay attention, you’ll see that each movement has numerous hidden meanings that experienced owners haven’t yet understood.

Some cat owners are used to cats licking and biting them, while others are not. Many people will be disturbed by this and want to know what is causing this behavior.

If you also own a cat and want to know ‘why does my cat lick me then bite me?’ keep reading to find out!

Why Does Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me

cats-lick-then-bite

Here are some reasons to understand what does it mean when a cat licks you then bites you:

1. You have an overstimulated cat

Your kitty likes being stroked, but a lengthy petting session might push her over the edge. Petting-induced aggressiveness is what happens to our beautiful and laid-back cats.

It’s assumed that this has something to do with the nerve endings in your cat’s fur and that excessive stroking might make cats uncomfortable. Overstimulation is most likely the case if your cat has been giving you a nice lick while you’re stroking them and then abruptly gives you a little nip.

The licking that occurs before the warning bites is a technique for your feline to soften the impact; it indicates that your pet wants you to stop but still loves you.

Dilated eyes, turned-back ears, and a flicking tail are all signs that your cat has had enough physical attention. Stroke your cat, and at the same time, notice whether your cat displays these signals, and stop petting before your cat gets overstimulated.

Certain regions of a cat’s coat will allow them to be stroked for more extended periods than others. You can make those petting sessions enjoyable if you pay attention to your cat’s body language.

2. Your cat is showing affection

When your cats lick you then bite you, it’s because it likes you and wants to give you a little love bite. It admires the way you look after it and has total faith in you. Biting is an indication of a close relationship between you and your cat.

If your cat grabs you after licking you, it means it feels calm and at ease around you and considers you a member of its family. Cats have firmer skin than humans, and they bite each other as a gesture of affection, so they don’t realize that they are hurting you when they bite you.

3. To ask you to play with them

A cat’s ability to communicate through words is limited. When your cat has a playful mood, they must find a nonverbal method to share with you. This is also an answer to the question “why did the kitten lick and bite my hand?”

Some cats groan. Others will pounce or scratch you. Some cats will stare at you until you get close.

There are several ways for cats to signal that they are ready for playing. They initiate playtime with the cat licking and biting combination, which is undoubtedly one of them. That is when you can immerse yourself into the feline universe.

4. They’re stressed

Excessive licking and biting might indicate worry or tension or behavioral problems. When stressed, some cat breeds, such as Siamese, may chew things. Unfortunately, this chewing tendency may extend to grinding your body parts. When cats are agitated, they may begin licking nonstop or in a compulsive manner.

It’s doubtful that your cat is genuinely furious with you if your cats lick then bite your skin.

You may have noticed your cat becoming agitated or afraid. An angry or frightened cat has an arched back, hair that stands on edge, and a lot of hissing. In the worst-case scenario, you may be irritating your cat due to overstimulation.

5. They’re preparing to groom you

When cats have itchy fur or need to get rid of anything on their skin, they will occasionally bite and lick themselves in their grooming process. Alternatively, cats may do this while grooming each other, especially when they are kittens.

Cats’ tongues have keratin spines, which is why your cat’s tongue may feel scaly. These spines help your cat to clean itself properly.

They may be grooming you as if you were another cat if there is a lot of licking but not much biting. And if they’re licking and chewing on your hair, grooming behavior is even more probable.

If your cat tries to groom you, it’s a good indicator that they’ve formed a strong relationship with you and you shouldn’t worry about behavioral issues. Cats don’t groom other cats at random; they exclusively groom the cats in their group.

6. Your cat is marking you

If you’ve just brought home one or more cats, your cat is likely to feel threatened about its place in the house. That’s why it may leave its smell on you through bites.

Marking territory is a natural cat tendency to show power over other pets and let them know that you belong with your cat only. It’s also a method for your cat to express its affection for you.

When your cat grows friendly or acclimated to the new pet, this behavior will decrease.

7. Health Issues

Although a health condition is unlikely, it might be one of the reasons for your inquiry: why my cat lick my fingers then bite them. If touching your cat elicited discomfort rather than a pleasant trill, there is an underlying health problem with your pet.

Some of the health conditions that may cause your cat to attack you include:

  • Tight hair knots that tug at the skin of your cat when you pet it. You must de-mat them if you do not want your pet to be unhappy.
  • Your cat’s skin has some scratches or wounds, and you accidentally inflicted pain by petting them.
  • Your cat’s skin has been irritated for whatever reason.

How Can You Stop Your Cat From Biting You

cats-lick-you-then-bite-you

Here are a few things you can do to stop biting from cats.

  • Make use of the positive reinforcement technique. The best approach to prevent one cat from biting is to use the positive reinforcement method to educate it from a young age. Make your cat believe that biting isn’t something you’re okay with. To reduce its behavior, don’t allow it to bite in any way.
  • Pretend that you are in pain when your cat bite you. When your cat nibbles you unexpectedly, show it that the little bite hurts. If the cat grabs your hand, try folding your fingers together.
  • Give Toys for Your Cat. Your feline’s need to bite will be satisfied if you provide him with chew toys. Make sure your pet has at least three different toys to gnaw on since they can rapidly become bored with just one. If your cat’s desire to bite is met, the odds of your pet biting you are reduced.

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What causes cats to bite?

The cat’s bite may have various meanings; nevertheless, anybody who an angry or scared cat has bitten understands that it has nothing to do with the gentle cat bites that a playful cat makes.

Cats who are truly furious or scared have a very expressive body language that is tight, stiff, and bristling, with hissing, fading meows, and a curled back.

Bites from scared cats (including painful scratches) are not related to bites during play, which generally occur when cats have got tired of being petted, or cat love bites, which are usually more controlled and recurrent.

2. Why does a cat lick?

The tongue of a cat is unlike any other: it is made up of tiny keratin spines that are very effective for cleaning, unwinding hair, eliminating dirt from their coat, and drinking water. It’s for this reason that they have a hard tongue.

That’s why, when a feline licks us, especially if our pet licks our hair, they’re grooming us as if we’re simply cats. That is a highly beneficial social act that demonstrates a strong relationship with the owner and a desire to make us feel at ease.

The cat licks are a show of affection since they’ve learned that it’s something people appreciate, which results in an unending amount of caressing and attention.

On the other hand, excessive and compulsive licking might indicate that something isn’t right and that our best friend’s well-being is in jeopardy; it’s consequently a cause of worry and concern.

3. When my cat licks me, why does it hurt?

As every cat owner who has a cat that likes to lick her hair knows, Fluff’s strong tongue may pull some strands out.

The papillae that cover your cat’s tongue, which are backward-facing hooks made of keratin, the same substance as her claws, can feel uncomfortably like sandpaper. The papillae act as a comb, removing hairs and fur to reach the dirt beneath.

4. Why does my cat lick and bite other cats?

As previously said, licking and biting other cats is relatively common in the feline world. It’s a sign that cats have bonded with each other.

Final thoughts

Why does my cat lick me then bite me? Cats don’t lick and bite just for the sake of it. If your cat does this frequently, it’s worth spending the time to discover the reason. As a show of affection and an invitation to play, your cat may lick and bite you. It might also mean it’s been overstimulated and needs to unwind.

If your cat’s biting habit appears to be connected to stress, speak with your veterinarian and ask for suggestions to reduce it. Take better care of your cat!

Why Do Cats Lick You? How Your Feline Shows Affection

07-01-2022 · Cats lick their owners for a variety of reasons including to show affection and to gather scent. iStock Cummings went on to add that another reason for …

07-01-2022

Cats are enigmatic creatures. While they make wonderful pets, their behavior can often leave us baffled.

For instance, have you ever wondered why your cat licks you? Why do they run their little rough sandpaper-like tongue across your arm or face?

Well, as it turns out this action can be for a myriad of reasons. We spoke to some experts to find out...

Sign of Affection

If your cat "starts licking you while you're cuddled up together, it could be that they're trying to show affection and make friends with you," Cats Protection behavior officer Daniel Cummings told Newsweek.

The expert added: "Cats are usually quite happy to just groom themselves, using their rough tongue to remove any dirt and excess fur from their body.

"However, if they're in the same social group as another cat, they may lend a helping tongue and groom each other. This helps them to form a close bond, and it can sometimes happen across species too."

Felines can also show affection in many other ways, such as through eye contact, body language and making sounds such as purring.

Gather Scent

"Cats lick to wash themselves but they also can lick us to gather scent from us", Anita Kelsey, cat behaviorist and author of Let's Talk About Cats, told Newsweek.

"Our body scent or sweat can excite cats also, which is why some nuzzle up under our armpits."

Cats have a very good sense of smell, 14 times stronger than humans.

It is the primary way they identify people and objects; they have more than 200 million odor sensors in their nose, in comparison with the 5 million that humans have.

cat
A stock image of a cat with its tongue out. Cats lick their owners for a variety of reasons including to show affection and to gather scent. iStock

Cummings went on to add that another reason for licking is to share their own scent.

"This helps them tell, with a simple sniff, that the other cat is part of their social group and can therefore be trusted," he said. "By licking you, your cat could simply be marking you as safe and letting you know you're part of the family."

To Feel Good

As well as gathering scent, grooming and showing affection, cats also gain pleasure from licking.

Cummings revealed this releases "'feel good' hormones, called endorphins, in their brains."

"This gives them a natural 'high' so it's understandable that they may want to do it at every opportunity, even if that means licking you instead of themselves."

When Cats Lick Too Much

Although licking is normal and largely a positive thing, when your feline begins licking too much it can be a bad sign.

Due to the release of endorphins when a cat is stressed it may turn to licking to release anxiety.

This could manifest as compulsive grooming, known as psychogenic alopecia, which could be triggered by a change of routine or environment.

Cummings warns: "If they're licking you, or themselves, excessively then they could be feeling stressed or anxious, so take them to a vet to see if they can help identify a cause."

Cat licking finger
A stock image of a cat licking a finger. If your feline is licking you excessively it could be a sign of anxiety. iStock
Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Her?

17-01-2021 · Why does my cat lick me then bite me? Your cat may lick you and then bite you to show her affection and it may mean that she is relaxed and comfortable in your presence. She may also do this as an invitation for playtime and as her way of grooming you. However, it may also mean that your cat is warning you to stop giving her physical attention and may also be a sign of stress or anxiety ...

17-01-2021
Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Her?

Getting licked by your cat is adorable although it may not be the most enjoyable feeling. This is because a cat’s tongue is covered with papillae that resemble tiny and backward-facing barbs which gives it a rough and sandpaper feeling.  

Why does my cat lick me when I pet her?

Your cat may lick you when you pet her for the following reasons:

1. Your cat may be thinking that you are socially grooming each other.

Cats groom each other to forge social bonds and if you are petting your cat she may think that you are socially grooming her so she may just be returning the favor.  This type of social grooming among cats is also called allogrooming and is meant to reinforce social hierarchies among their species.  

While getting licked by your cat may be adorable it is quite unpleasant since her tongue feels like sandpaper because the barbs are meant to glide through fur and act as a comb. A cat’s tongue feels rough against human skin and some people may feel uncomfortable with the sensation. Nevertheless, take it as a compliment since your cat may just be grooming you in return.

2. Your cat is marking you as her territory.

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. It may also be your cat’s way of saying that she wants to connect with you. 

Felines instinctively mingle their scents with that of family members to create a unified scent as it makes them comfortable so that when your cat licks you it is a sort of invitation to their family circle. 

3. It may be a cat’s way of telling you to stop petting her. 

Some cat owners note that their cats tend to behave like that as their kitty’s way of discouraging them from petting them further. They also state that instead of becoming defensive a gentle cat may tend to lick when petted as a subtle way of pushing a person’s hand away from her body and may proceed by grooming herself after someone pets her. 

Cats may also lick their owners when they pet them to replicate what their mothers did to them when they were young. This may signify trust and love. Other cat owners also strongly believe that their cats may have detected the smell of fish or something tasty in their hands while petting them which is why their cats lick them and may also sniff them. 

Should I let my cat lick me?

It is up to you if you want to let your cat lick your hands or face. All cat owners have their own preferences when it comes to bonding time with their pets. Nevertheless, there are pros and cons if you allow them but to be on the safe side, you should not let your cat lick your face. 

Here are the pros and cons of allowing your cat to lick you:

Pros

It helps protect wounds.

According to research done in the Netherlands, a cat’s saliva contains histatins, a chemical that hastens the healing of wounds by promoting the spread of new skin cells. Thus, if you have a wound in your hand or face, your cat’s saliva may aid in the healing process just as it is effective in healing their wounds. Dr. Nigel Benjamin of the London School of Medicine also attests that cat saliva produces nitric oxide when it comes in contact with human skin. Nitric oxide acts as a barrier to the wound and discourages bacterial growth thus preventing infections. 

It helps build trust.

Letting your cat lick you means that you are honored to be groomed and lets your cat feel that you trust her. It may signify that your cat is opening up to you and she is comfortable in your presence.

Cons 

There are health risks. 

Just as there are benefits to being licked by your cat, there are also impending dangers since parasites and bacteria thrive in her saliva. Thus, you may become infected if you allow your cat to lick your hands or face. Pasteurella bacteria that is found in a cat’s mouth may cause infections and lymph nodes while Bartonella henselae may cause cat scratch fever that can affect humans.  

While these bacteria are not deadly, certain kinds like E.coli and salmonella may cause severe intestinal diseases among humans. Parasitic worms from cats may also be transferred to people through licking and may cause skin problems, blindness, intestinal disease and brain disorder. 

It is unhygienic.

You can never know what your cat’s tongue and mouth came into contact with although you try your best to keep her clean. She may have caught and ate a mouse or she might have licked her backside before licking your hands or face. So, just think of the myriad of diseases or infections that you can contract if you allow your cat to lick you in the hands or face.

What to do if you allow your cat to lick you?

Here are some safety protocols to keep in mind if you decide to still allow your cat to lick your hands or face

  • Clean your cat’s paws and mouth after she goes outside your home.
  • Bring your cat to the vet for regular deworming sessions.
  • Wash your face and hands with antibacterial soap after your cat licks you.
  • Check your cat for fleas and ticks and promptly treat her if you notice its presence.
  • Give your pet a proper diet of cooked, canned and dry cat food. 
  • Dispose of your cat’s poop properly. 
  • Schedule annual fecal examinations and utilize anti-parasite treatments. 

Why do cats lick themselves after you pet them?

Cats lick themselves after you pet them since they may have detected a certain scent on the spot where you petted them. It may be a trace of your cologne or the scent of your last meal. Some cats may also behave that way to activate their own scent and get rid of unfamiliar smells due to the petting or to rearrange their fur back into place. 

Other possible reasons why cats lick themselves after you pet them include:

1.It is your cat’s way of performing mutual grooming which is a gesture that occurs between bonded cats that trust each other. 

2. She may be trying to indicate to you you to reach a spot that is hard for her to get at such as the base of her tail. 

3. If you suspect that your cat has skin infections or allergy, bring her to the vet for proper treatment. 

4. She may be suffering from feline hyperesthesia syndrome where your cat’s skin becomes hypersensitive and petting may cause pain or discomfort. Have her checked by the vet if she is manifesting other symptoms such as dilated pupils, self-aggression, vocalization, excessive grooming and tail mutation.

Why does my cat lick me then bite me?

Your cat may lick you and then bite you to show her affection and it may mean that she is relaxed and comfortable in your presence. She may also do this as an invitation for playtime and as her way of grooming you. However, it may also mean that your cat is warning you to stop giving her physical attention and may also be a sign of stress or anxiety. 

Conclusion

Being licked by your cat when you pet her is like receiving hugs and kisses from your family. However, it may also mean that she is marking you as her territory, she may be thinking that you are mutually grooming each other or she may have detected a delectable smell in your hand.

Image: istockphoto.com / Magryt

Why Does My Cat Lick Me, Then Bite Me? 5 Reasons for This ...

29-04-2021 · Lick, lick, happy cat, lick lick, happy cat, lick, lick, BITE! Why do cats change their cattitude so fast and go from licking to biting? We've got 5 reasons explained.

29-04-2021

Sometimes our cats do slightly strange things that can leave us scratching our heads. One of those things is giving us a sweet lick on our hands before going in for a bite! What’s up with that?

Some cats might give you a tiny bite that is barely painful. Others will move in for a full tooth-sinking experience, which isn’t pleasant. If your cat does the latter, it can be worth finding out more about why exactly they’re doing this and what you can do to stop them from leaving tooth marks on your hand!

1. Your cat is overstimulated

Cats love being petted, but sometimes, an extended petting session takes them over their threshold. When this happens, our sweet and laidback kitties can experience something called “petting-induced aggression.”

It’s thought that this has something to do with the nerve endings connected to your cat’s fur, and too much petting can actually start to become uncomfortable. If your cat has been giving you a gentle lick as you’re petting them, and they suddenly bite you, this is likely the reason.

Signs that your cat is becoming overstimulated include dilated eyes, turned-back ears, and a flicking tail. Take the time to notice if your cat is showing these signs as you pet them, and end the petting session before your cat reaches the point of overstimulation.

Certain cats will have areas on their coat that they can tolerate being petted for longer than other places. By staying alert to your cat’s body language, you can keep those petting sessions pleasant for both of you.

Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

2. Your cat is initiating play

Some cats may try to encourage their owners to start playing with them by coming over and giving you a little lick and then a soft bite. If you haven’t been petting your cat and they come up to you like this, they’re likely ready to play!

Playful cats will have pricked ears, a raised tail, and slightly dilated pupils.

Image Credit: Luis Echeverri Urrea, Shutterstock

3. Your cat is grooming you

If you watch your cat grooming themselves, you’ll see that sometimes, they intersperse licking their coat with nibbling their skin. While for some cats, this can be a standard part of their grooming routine, for others, it can be a sign of a skin infection or irritation from flea bites, so make sure you know what’s normal for your cat.

For cats that do regularly nibble as part of their grooming routine, they’re just doing the same to their human owners! Your cat might not realize that this can actually hurt you!

If your cat gets into the habit of biting you after giving you a cleaning lick, start gently moving your hand out of the way before they move in for a bite. You could distract them with a toy or a treat, to signal that their grooming session is over.

Never scold your cat for biting you; after all, they don’t necessarily understand what they’ve done wrong. Remember that mutual grooming (which includes biting!) is a bonding behavior in cats. By extending the offer to you, your cat is letting you know that they consider you to be a part of their social group. By offering to lick and “groom” you, they’re trying to strengthen the bond between the two of you — which is pretty cute!

Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

4. Your cat is stressed

Cats are sensitive creatures, and sometimes, their stress can be shown by licking and biting. Some cats will indulge in excessive grooming, even pulling out hairs. If your hand happens to be close to your cat, they may end up licking and then biting your hand instead.

Plenty of things can stress our cats out, including moving to a new house, introducing a new pet, or having strangers visit. If your cat does seem stressed, ask your vet for advice. Using a pheromone diffuser can also help your cat feel soothed.

Image Credit: Valentina Broshkova, Shutterstock

5. Your cat is showing you affection

It might not be your preferred choice, but small bites can be a sign of affection between cats. This is a normal behavioral interaction, particularly between kittens. Some cats will extend this same behavior toward their owners!

If your cat is behaving affectionately and then moves in for a lick and bite, this is probably what’s happening. While there’s no malice behind it, sometimes you don’t want to be bitten! In that case, pay attention to your cat’s behavior before they move in for a nip, and distract them before it gets to that point. You can still show and accept plenty of affection from your cat — just draw the line at the love bites!

Image Credit: Daria Bondina, Shutterstock

Wrapping it up

Cats don’t lick and bite for no reason, so if this is a behavior that your cat seems to be carrying out with regularity, then it’s worth taking the time to figure out why. If it simply seems to be affection or play, then you can either let them carry on (if you don’t mind your hand getting chomped) or find ways to distract your cat before they nip you.

If you think that your cat’s biting behavior is linked to overstimulation, then it’s important to let everyone in the house know to keep petting sessions on the short side and to look out for the signs that your cat is becoming overstimulated. Petting-induced aggression isn’t your cat’s fault; it’s just an automatic reaction to an unpleasant feeling. By paying attention to our cat’s body language, we can make sure we don’t put them in the position of feeling uncomfortable.

If your cat’s biting behavior seems to be linked to stress, it’s important to speak to your vet and ask them for advice on how you can minimize this. Long-term stress is bad for cats and can lead them to develop health problems.

If your cat ever licks and then bites you, have you figured out why? What did you do to stop them? We’d love to hear from you!

You might also like some of our other top-trending posts:

Featured Image Credit: Vika Hova, Shutterstock

Why Does My Cat Lick My Face? 6 Reasons for This Behavior ...

17-02-2021 · There are a number of odd cat behaviors that we have a hard time decoding. We explain why cats lick our faces and what this might mean.

17-02-2021

Kitty kisses can be cute and endearing. But being incessantly licked by a tongue that feels like sand can be uncomfortable and irritating.

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

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.

Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

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.

Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

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.

  • See also: How to Make a Kitten Pacifier at Home

The Bottom Line on Licking

If your cat is always licking your face, it could be because of her deep adoration for you, wanting to mark you as her property, or because she wants attention. It may also be because of stress. Contact your vet if you think this is the case.

Above all else, know that your cat loves you and considers you part of her feline family.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Why does my cat lick me so much

22-02-2022 · Unfortunately, licking is sometimes a sign of anxiety or compulsive behavior in cats. Usually this behavior will manifest in the form of your cat licking himself compulsively (leading to hair loss, reddened skin, rashes, etc.)—but occasionally it’ll emerge as licking humans. If your cat licks you often, or licks himself compulsively, try to ...

22-02-2022

You are reading: Why does my cat lick me so much

When it comes to pets that like to lick their humans, most people think of dogs before cats. But if you’re a cat parent who’s experienced the sandpaper feeling of your feline’s tongue, you’ve probably wondered: Why does my cat lick me? 

So, why do cats lick people, and what does it mean? Read on to find out.

What does it mean when a cat licks you?

First, why does a cat’s tongue feel so rough? Cats actually have tiny backward-facing barbs on their tongues to help facilitate thorough grooming practices. These barbs also help them get the most out of their meals—whether that’s an outdoor kitty dining on a fresh catch or your spoiled house cat lapping up a plate of canned cat food.

So, what does it mean when a cat licks you? The reasons are varied, but not usually worrisome.

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Photo by Miron Cristina on Unsplash

6 reasons why your cat licks you

We’ve explored why cats lick plastic and other strange items, many of which can pose a danger to cats if consumed. Luckily, the reason your cat licks you is likely a positive one!

Getting your attention

Whether it’s the feel of those tiny barbs or simply the “aww factor” of your furbaby licking you, your cat is likely aware that this behavior is a surefire way to grab your attention. Similar to how cats knock things off tables to get attention, there may even be a mischievous or manipulative element to their licking behavior. If your cat is feeling stressed or anxious, the licking may actually be a form of “acting out” in order to get you to pay attention. We’ll explore this in more detail later on. 

Showing you affection

One of the sweetest reasons why your cat licks you is to show affection. This is essentially a form of social bonding, similar to your cat cuddling you in your lap. 

You may have noticed that your cat licks you when you’re already engaged in a petting session, and wondered: Why does my cat lick me when I pet him? This could be your cat “thanking” you for the attention and showing affection in return. Pay attention to when your cat licks you while you’re petting him, as there could also be a compulsive element to the behavior. For example, do you notice your cat starting to lick you only when you scratch one certain spot, such as his lower back or tail? If this is the case, you should consider that the licking may be a sign of anxiety, reflexive of being scratched or pet in a place that your cat finds uncomfortable or ultra-sensitive.

Grooming you

Did you know that free-roaming cat colonies practice social grooming—also called allogrooming—as a means of bonding, reinforcing social hierarchies, and even redirecting pent-up aggression? 

So maybe you’ve wondered: Why does my cat groom me? Your cat “grooming” you might not be quite so complicated as the dynamics in a cat colony, but it’s nonetheless a possibility for why your cat licks you. Don’t take it as a slight, as it’s not necessarily your cat’s way of telling you you’re dirty. Instead, take it as a compliment! You’re part of a select group (whose only other member may, in fact, be your cat!) that your cat is willing to groom.

If you have more than one cat in the household, you may notice that the cat that licks you is also more likely to lick the other cat(s). In keeping with allogrooming studies, this is because the “dominant” cat in the group is more likely to give the majority of the grooming. Male cats are also more likely to initiate social grooming than females.

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Photo by Deziree Dufresne on Unsplash

Marking you as their territory 

Cats practice territorial marking on a regular basis by activating the scent glands located in their mouths, chins, the sides of the face, and even the pads of their paws! Similar to your cat rubbing against you as a form of scent marking, he may also lick you to mark his territory. 

Do cats have a favorite person? Well, that depends entirely on the cat—but one way you might confirm this theory is if your cat licks you and not the other household members. Certain cat breeds are more prone to “singling out” a favorite person, including Russian Blues and Oriental Shorthairs.

Feeling anxious or stressed

Unfortunately, licking is sometimes a sign of anxiety or compulsive behavior in cats. Usually this behavior will manifest in the form of your cat licking himself compulsively (leading to hair loss, reddened skin, rashes, etc.)—but occasionally it’ll emerge as licking humans.

If your cat licks you often, or licks himself compulsively, try to determine if something has set off this stress-induced behavior. It could be the result of interacting with other animals in the house, rowdy children, or something much more subtle. Talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s licking; they may wish to examine your cat to rule out any medical reasons for the behavior. Learn more about treating cat anxiety.

Or… you just have something yummy on your skin

Still finding yourself wondering why does my cat lick me? Next time your cat licks you, take note if there’s anything, well, palatable on your skin. Did you recently prepare food? Use a particular hand lotion? Exercise? Yes, even your salty sweat might taste great to your cat. 

Should you let your cat lick you? Keep in mind that certain foods and beauty products contain ingredients that are toxic to cats. It’s best to get in the habit of washing your hands after you prepare food, and don’t let your cat lick you if you’ve recently applied lotion, perfume, and other skin products.

Is it normal for my cat to lick me all the time?

There’s no set frequency for what’s “normal” when it comes to your cat licking you. Every cat is different, and many will not lick humans at all. However, if your cat is licking you all the time, it could mean something is amiss. As we covered earlier, compulsive licking is often a sign of stress and anxiety. It’s best to check with your vet if you have any concerns.

How to stop your cat from licking you

Why does it hurt when my cat licks me? 

Remember those tiny tongue barbs we talked about? After a short while, the sandpaper feel of your cat’s tongue can become irritating to the skin, if not downright painful. If you’re looking for ways to stop your cat from licking you, just keep in mind that this may be a bonding experience for your cat. Therefore, you shouldn’t push your cat away aggressively or otherwise punish your cat for licking you. Instead, gently disengage from your cat and walk away. Eventually, your cat should begin to associate this disappearing act with his licking—and hopefully cease the behavior. 

Licking is okay – but you can redirect your cat, too

Tired of all the licking? You might simply need to redirect your cat’s attention to other stimulating activities, including providing interactive cat furniture or toys such as a laser pointer.

So, what does it mean when a cat licks you? Now you know there’s a variety of reasons for this behavior, many of which are positive. If your cat’s licking becomes irritating, try to handle it with grace and let your cat down easy. If it becomes compulsive, talk to your vet. 

Resources:

Cover photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

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Why Do Cats Lick You? - All About Cats

18-03-2022 · Even if your cat is licking you for normal reasons, it has the potential to be a nuisance or even dangerous. The scent of products used on your hair or skin could attract your cat and entice them to lick you. Ingredients in those products are not always safe for cats or could cause irritation to their gastrointestinal system.

18-03-2022

It can feel uncomfortable when your cat licks your bare skin due to the backward-facing barbs on a cat’s tongue.

Our dog companions are well-known for licking people, but what about cats? Cat parents often complain of their cats licking their fingers, their feet, or even their hair.

The sensation is generally not pleasant because of the barbs on a cat’s tongue, which make things quite rough. So why do cats lick people? It turns out that there are a variety of reasons.

Normal Licking Behavior In Cats

We first need to identify what is normal versus abnormal licking behavior for a cat. Cats are some of the most fastidious groomers out there. In fact, they are so good at it that most pet cats rarely, if ever, need a bath if they are in good health. Grooming serves a variety of functions for a cat’s health and well-being.

Health Reasons for Grooming:

  • Grooming keeps the coat clean and dry.
  • It spreads around natural oils from the cat’s skin, conditioning the coat.
  • Grooming removes parasites. Cats are so good at this that it can be tough to find evidence of certain parasites, like fleas. We often have to look for things like flea dirt, instead of the actual fleas, to confirm their presence.
  • Licking also has a cooling function. Cats do not sweat and they also do not pant like dogs to dissipate heat (cats panting can be a sign of severe distress or illness). Licking applies moisture to the coat and when that evaporates it provides a cooling effect for the cat.

Social Reasons for Grooming:

  • One cat licking one another is called allogrooming. This is a much more common behavior among familiar cats than strangers. Seeing this behavior between cats in a household provides insight into the social relationships between them. It most commonly happens around the head, neck, and ears. Cats have been observed allogrooming other species, including dogs, horses, and rabbits, among others.
  • Licking provides scent distribution between cats. Scent is a crucial way that cats identify other members of their social group. That scent distribution can also help form and strengthen social bonds between the cats or between the cat and another animal.

Safety Concerns

Don’t let your cat lick lotions or creams from your skin as the ingredients in these might be dangerous for cats.

Even if your cat is licking you for normal reasons, it has the potential to be a nuisance or even dangerous. The scent of products used on your hair or skin could attract your cat and entice them to lick you. Ingredients in those products are not always safe for cats or could cause irritation to their gastrointestinal system.

Two common ingredients found in certain topical creams that are toxic to cats are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) and estrogen. It is important to be extra aware of your cat having access to potentially lick these products and prevent that from happening.

Cats sometimes lick hair and swallow it. This is also a concern because hair can accumulate in the intestinal tract and lead to urinary blockage.

Licking could be a sign of a gastrointestinal problem, which is not uncommon in cats. From the mental health perspective, licking can be an attention-seeking behavior or even a behavior performed due to anxiety or stress. Anxiety and stress are the least common reasons for licking so ruling out other possibilities is always the best place to start.

Also Read: 5 Visual Signs of a Stressed Cat and How to Help

As with any behavior, when there is a sudden change or it is performed with excessive frequency or intensity, it can be an indication of something else going on. In that case, the first stop should be to your veterinarian’s office to make sure your cat is in good health.

What To Do If Your Cat Licks You

If your cat is licking you too much, provide more toys and activities to help engage your cat in a healthier way.

If you want to stop your cat from licking you, the best approach is to become incredibly boring. That may sound silly, but this approach works very well. The reason is that a lot of cat behaviors are inadvertently reinforced by their family members which causes the behavior to happen more often.

Pushing your cat away, petting them, and talking to them can all be rewarding to your cat. On the other hand, unpleasant punishments can also make the problem worse. Things like yelling at your cat, using a spray bottle, or any type of physical reprimand have been shown to potentially lead to aggression and should never be used.

Being very boring is typically more effective. That means completely disengaging from your cat when they start licking you. Often, the best way to do this is to get up and walk away without looking at, speaking to, or touching your cat every time that they start to lick you.

Cats are very quick learners and it should not take long before they figure out that licking you does not get them any form of attention.

Remember that licking is a variation of a normal behavior for cats. Oral behaviors such as licking, chewing, and sucking are natural way for cats to explore the world around them. Ensuring that your cat has plenty of outlets for both physical and mental activity can go a long way to reducing unwanted behaviors like licking.

Enrichment Options to Reduce Licking

The term enrichment comes up over and over again when discussing undesirable behaviors and creating the best quality of life for pet cats. There is a good reason for that—it works!

Any enrichment is good, but in the case of licking it may be most helpful to give them appropriate options to use their mouths. Food puzzle toys are very popular and there is almost no limit to both products for sale and do-it-yourself options available.

Feeding puzzles get your cat thinking and problem solving. They can get your cat moving around more, and they also allow cats a good place to focus licking or other oral behaviors.

Food puzzles aren’t the only options, though. Cats may like chewing on safe plants like cat grass. Chew sticks are available made of silver vine or other woods that cats like. Even soft chew bones designed for puppies can be enjoyable for some cats. Be sure to supervise your cat with these items to make sure they don’t try to swallow them whole or in pieces.

That depends. If the licking does not bother you and it does not happen too often or for too long, it may be OK. However, it is very easy for licking to become a way of seeking attention and get out of hand. In some cases, for example when certain products are present on the skin, licking that can be dangerous for your cat. It's best if you can redirect your cat to a more desirable activity.

It can be, or at least a sign that your cat sees you as a member of their social group. It is not the only reason a cat may lick you.

This doesn’t always happen for the same reason. Licking can be an appeasement behavior, meaning that it helps defuse tension. This could be the reason that a cat licks someone after biting them. You may also see the opposite, where a cat licks first and then bites. Sometimes social interaction gets to be too much or too intense for a cat and they bite as a way to stop that. If you pet your cat while they are licking you, this is more likely to happen.

View Sources

https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/poisoning-toxicity/c_ct_hormone_replacement_poisoning_in_cats

https://www.aspca.org/news/topical-creams-can-pose-danger-pets

Why do cats lick people? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

There’s no one reason why your cat might lick you. However, there are three main theories why domestic felines engage in this behaviour: They’re displaying they trust you. They’re accessing biochemical information from you skin. They’re marking you as another one of their possessions. The trust theory. Yes, there’s a chance a cat may lick you to show they trust you. Or least to show they …

Licking: cats are absolutely obsessed with it. In fact, research suggests an adult domestic feline can spend up to 8 per cent of their waking hours grooming their body with their tongue. Licking can also play an important social role with felines, with adults often licking each other just before copulating.

But what about humans: why do cats lick people? The good news: there’s no evidence to say your cat considers this any part of a pre-mating ritual. The bad news: scientists and cat behavioural experts aren’t completely sure why your cat might mop their little tongue against your face or hand.

However, while there’s no overarching and definitive explanation for this behaviour, there are several theories about why domestic felines lick humans. Spoiler: your cat doesn’t come off well in any of them.

There’s no one reason why your cat might lick you. However, there are three main theories why domestic felines engage in this behaviour:

  • They’re displaying they trust you.
  • They’re accessing biochemical information from you skin.
  • They’re marking you as another one of their possessions.

The trust theory

Yes, there’s a chance a cat may lick you to show they trust you. Or least to show they don’t consider you as serious competition.

“This type of licking is similar to a cat-to-cat behaviour known as allogrooming, which is basically mutual grooming. A cat will learn this from its mother when they’re a very young blind and deaf kitten. It’s basically to clean the kitten and strengthen social bonds,” says Dr David Sands, expert in animal psychology with over 25 years of clinical experience.

Read more about cats:

“Because of these maternal origins, adult cats will only lick other cats they trust and are not in competition with. And this trusting grooming behaviour may be transferred onto a human.

“After all, cats are not sitting there saying ‘I’m a cat and you’re a human being’. To them, animals are either in competition with them or not. And licking shows you’re not in competition.” 

In other words, if your cat licks you, it’s not a positive sign of attachment. It’s just not a negative one (which is as good as it gets with a cat). 

cat licking © Getty
Helpful note: always think about the last place your cat might have licked before allowing this. © Getty

If in doubt, consider the University of Lincoln study tactfully titled Domestic Cats Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners.

When swapping 20 felines and their human owners, researchers found the cats appeared to bond as well with strangers (shown through behaviours such as play and mirroring) than with their actual owners.

The researchers concluded: “These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”

The biochemical theory

While this sounds complicated, this is essentially the very simple idea that a cat will like you because they’re interested in whatever scent is on your hand.

Cat taste buds are so sensitive – they can pick up scents from our skins that could include pheromone secretions from other animals,” says Sands.

“It could also be that you’ve got salt, moisturiser or whatever you’ve just eaten on your hand. To cats, all these are interesting scents and licking allows them to check it out. That’s simply all it might be.” 

The possession play theory

Cats are, as Sands puts it, “scent machines from head to tail”. And their favourite smell? Their own. In fact, they love their own unique scent – which acts as an airborne fingerprint – so much they think it should supplant all others.

As Sands explains, this is why a cat may lick themselves after your stroke them – “it’s purely to get rid of your scent!” he says.

So much other cat behaviour comes down to possession and ownership. Everything that they do is very territorial,” Sands adds.

“Sometimes when cats groom other cats and people they’re scraping off scents and supplanting it with their own. It’s their way of marking and saying ‘This is mine! I own you!’”

He adds: “People always think cats rubbing themselves against you or things you touch are expressing love. But actually, cats are very possessing individuals. For them, the more they can brush past you and deposit their scent, the better!”

With a doctorate in ethology (animal psychology) at Liverpool University, Sands has over 25 years experience at his animal behavioural clinic. He is a Fellow of the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).

Sands is also the author of Cats 500 Questions Answered, Hamlyn, £4).

Read more about the science of cats

What Does it Mean When a Cat Licks You? 9 Reasons You ...

25-01-2021 · We all love our adorable felines – from their purrfect little stares to their rough, bristled tongues that lick us as though we’re a tasty snack. But what does it mean when a cat licks you? It’s a…

25-01-2021

We all love our adorable felines – from their purrfect little stares to their rough, bristled tongues that lick us as though we’re a tasty snack. But what does it mean when a cat licks you? It’s a common question that many cat owners query.

Many assume kitties lick them as a sure sign of love – which isn’t that far off. While it’s difficult to determine whether cats feel complex emotions such as love, licking is a sign of affection.

Mother cats lick their kittens as part of the grooming process, which continues into adulthood. Cats also designate members to allogrooming – to lick each other.

Let’s take a further look below into why cats lick us.

ginger cat with green eyes and tongue out up close

What Does it Mean When a Cat Licks You? 9 Reasons Why

Oh, the feline tongue – it can be as cute as anything, when her small pink tongue peeks out a little from her mouth as she delicately grooms herself, or you. There are several different reasons and meanings behind why your cat licks you with its sandblasting tongue. 

Let’s take a look into your kitties licking habits.

1. She’s Displaying Affection

In the same way that you pet your cat to show affection; your feline may return the favor by giving you a lick – or ten.

woman with brown hair cuddling tabby cat

Social grooming by licking is an influential behavior in our kitties and can signify affection. Your cat could be trying to create a social bond between the two of you. Just as how your sweet kitty was licked and groomed by her loving mother, your cat could be replicating this behavior, too.

2. Cats Lick to Mark You as Their Territory

Cats use pheromones to mark their territory. While many assume cats mark their property by urinating on what’s ‘theirs,’ they can claim you as theirs in other ways too.

Licking, headbutting, and kneading are some of the other ways your feline is claiming you as part of their territory – affectionately.

teen pretty girl kiss black cat close up portrait

When your kitty licks or headbutts against you, it’s reaffirming that you are important to them. They’re also leaving their scent for other cats to know that you’re spoken for.

So, next time your kitty licks you, think of it as if you’ve been accepted into her inner circle.

3. She’s Grooming You

Felines are notorious bathers. They love to lounge around, bathing and napping throughout the day. Cats are clean animals, as you can tell by their well-maintained, neat appearance.

grey cat licks grey kitten

⇒ Keen to get your cat out and about? Check out my posts on Is Cat Walking Possible?, 7 Best Escape Proof Cat Harness Options, 5 Best Carrier for Cats choices, 14 Best Cat Carrier for Car Travel options and 4 Top Travel Litter Box options.

Even though your kitty may not be aware that grooming won’t actually help you ‘get clean,’ this behavior is natural for them. As previously mentioned,  Mommy cats lick their kittens to teach them how to groom, as well as show affection and establish bonds.   

While the idea of us being covered in cat saliva may not align with your human hygiene standards.  However, it’s an important behavior for your feline that promotes bonding.

large grey cat licks ginger kitten

A group of cats living together, for example, will have a designated fellow cat for allogrooming’ to do the job of licking. Allogrooming creates bonds between members in a group of species – in this case, when a cat licks and grooms other cats – or us.

Similarly, when cats lick their humans, it may be the kitty is attempting to include you as a member of her group.

4. She Tastes Something Interesting

Spill something tasty on your arm? Don’t get a shock to find your furry friend sliding up next to you to get a lick of it.

tabby kitten licks human finger what does it mean when a cat licks you

⇒ An entertained cat is a happy cat. Check out my posts on 9 Best Treats for Cats, Ultimate Guide to Gifts for Cats, 6 Best Toys for Cats, 27 Beautiful Cat Ornaments, 14 Best Cat Chew Toys, Clothing for Cats, and Best Costumes for Pet Cats.

Although cats’ tongues are made for grooming, they have a much more muted sense of taste in correlation to humans. In fact, felines are one of the only mammals that lack the ability to taste sweets – oh my!

Your kitty may be licking you because they taste something interesting on your skin. Cats may also lick you simply because they enjoy the salt that builds up on your skin.

The salty residue on your skin from the day’s heat or if you’ve been exercising may appeal to taste interesting to your feline.

5. Your Kitty is Feeling Anxious

Licking humans and other cats can be a sign that your cat is feeling calm. Contrary to this, anxiety can also be a cause for licking. Maybe another way to see it is how we humans need hugs when anxious or stressed; our cats find the need to lick.

grey kitten licks human finger

Although excessive licking can indicate a medical issue, most of the time, when your kitty licks you, it’s a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety.

You may find if your feline is grooming you after experiencing a change in their environment, such as after moving to a new home or if you receive a new pet. Typically, this kind of licking is not anything you should worry about. 

You should pay attention to the context surrounding your kitties behavior and other notable things in your cat’s environment.

grey cat eating woman's fingers

If you speculate your fur baby is suffering from stress or has feline psychogenic alopecia, you should take her to the vet.

6. They’re Seeking Attention

Depending on your cat, their licking could be a request for playtime, or for cuddles and pets. If your cat is more food-orientated, they may be asking for food or a tasty snack. 

Grooming (or allogrooming) is a common social activity among cats. It’s their way to bond with each other – besides running through the house together while threatening your breakables.

Kitten licking finger

⇒ Getting a new kitty? Check out my guide to How to Look after a Kitten, 6 Best Kitten Wet Food Options and 8 Best Kitten Dry Food Options

If your cat licks you after you’ve been away for a while, they may be looking for your attention.

Licking can be the same as any other attention-seeking behavior of your kitty, such as pawing, meowing, kneading, headbutting, sitting on you. If this is the case, grab a cat toy or a grooming brush and give your kitty some attention.

7. It’s a Survival Strategy

Cats are accustomed to bathing themselves and each other after eating in order to eliminate food evidence. This is a cat’s survival strategy in nature to protect themselves from predators that may find them by following a lingering scent

cat tongue licking up close

⇒ Thinking about getting your favourite feline a new collar? Check out my posts on 6 Stylish Leather Cat Collars, 6 Spooky Halloween Cat Collars, 8 Fun Christmas Cat Collar options, 7 Best Cat Tracking Collars, 4 Best Cameras for Cat Collars, 6 Best Flea Collars for Cats choices and 5 Best Designer Cat Collars.

Your cat pal may be licking you to de-scent you from your day’s snacks to keep you (and her) ‘safe.’

8. They think you are stressed

A cat will lick another cat if it thinks it needs to calm down. This is, of course, what mother cats do to their kittens. Your cat is probably far more aware of your moods than you might realise. If your cat thinks you are stressed or upset it may well be licking you to help you to calm down and therefore to feel better.

9. To Pay You the Ultimate Compliment

When a cat licks you it is telling you that it feels completely safe in your presence. Your cat is saying that you are truly a member of its family because it is treating you as its mother treated it.

Why Does It Hurt When My Cat Licks Me?

Once your kitties licked away at you, another question is, ‘why does it hurt when my cat licks me?’

A cat’s tongue is covered in tiny spines called papillae. This papilla is made of keratin, the same matter that makes up our fingernails or your cat’s claws.

grey cat with yellow eyes and tongue up

These backward-facing, barb-looking taste buds are essential for getting knots and debris out of your cat’s fur.

In addition to grooming, cats’ tongues serve many practical functions:

  • Supports coat health.
  • It removes the flesh from bones.
  • Licking can remove the scent of prey after a meal.
  • To help remove food and debris from their coats.
  • It promotes the redistribution of oils.

So, when your sweet feline licks you – rubbing their spine-covered tongues on your skin – it’s likely to feel a little uncomfortable. Especially if your cat does this excessively in the same place, it could feel like sandpaper rubbing against you; however, they do mean well.

Scottish Fold Tabby Cat with tongue out
Scottish Fold Cat

How do I discourage my cat from licking me?

Whilst the occasional lick from your kitty can be a pleasant experience, if your cat really enjoys licking you frequently it may become a bit more than you would like. However, most owners don’t want to push their cats away when they exhibit these behaviours as they are concerned that their cat might feel rejected.

The best way to reduce the amount that your cat is licking you without offending it is to distract it. A great way to do this is with cat toys. Start playing with your cat while it is licking you and it will soon be more focussed on its favourite feather toy rather than you.

If play doesn’t work you can try food as a distraction – start with treats. However, do be careful with this path as if your cat starts to associate excessive licking with more food your problem may get worse rather than better.

There are many different answers as to ‘why does my cat lick me?’ It’s predominantly a means of social bonding and paying you a compliment.

It can also be a way for your cat to de-stress when they’re feeling anxious, and mark you as their territory. It’s up to you to determine which one best suits your feline’s personality.

While our cats lick us for several reasons, it’s mostly affectionate. So, next time your kitty starts to lick away at you, give them a gentle pet and feel honored to be considered a part of their family.

black and white tabby kitten licks another

Please Note: This what does it mean when a cat licks you post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not affect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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01-10-2021 · Why does my cat grab my arm and lick me? Because your cat loves you and it’s fun. Unless she is grabbing you and kicking your arm repeatedly then she is not fighting with you. Sometimes cat nip to show affection and ownership. Why does my cat bite me and then lick me?

01-10-2021

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. On the other hand, your cat may also be licking your face as a sign of anxiety.

Why does my cat grab my arm and lick me?

Because your cat loves you and it’s fun. Unless she is grabbing you and kicking your arm repeatedly then she is not fighting with you. Sometimes cat nip to show affection and ownership.

Why does my cat bite me and then lick me?

Your cat may lick and bite you as a way to bond by grooming you, to show affection, or as an invitation for playtime. She may also be licking and biting you to show that she’s had enough of your attention and it is her way of telling you to stop petting her.

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Why does my cat lick me and not my husband?

A lick is not a kiss, even though I often refer to them that way. Nonetheless, licking may be a sign of affection. Mother cats comfort and groom their young by licking them. It’s possible your cat simply feels a little more relaxed with you than she does with your husband.

Is it okay to let a cat lick your face?

You just need to avoid mouth-to-mouth contact, and put that stockpile of anti-bacterial gel to good use. Cats pick up the same bacteria when they clean themselves, too, so letting your cat lick your mouth, nose or eyes is not recommended.

Why does my cat lick me while I pet her?

Your cat may lick you when you pet her because she thinks you’re socially grooming each other. When your cat licks you while you pet her, one of the most common reasons is that she’s trying to socially groom. But cats don’t groom one another with their paws, they use their tongues.

Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?

Most times, a cat who’s grabbing and biting your hand is simulating hunting behavior. If your cat were to catch prey, they would bite and scratch at it in this way to tear it apart. That’s not to say your cat really wants to hurt or kill you—they don’t! They’re just doing something that’s instinctual to them.

What does it mean if your cat sleeps on you?

The reasons for this are varied, but generally speaking, it is the person who cares for them each day. This bond is important to your cat as they are social creatures that need affection and attention from their owner. By sleeping with you, it is another way for them to show their love.

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Why does my cat grab my hand and kick me?

Many healthy cats enjoy the act of “play wrestling” with other familiar cats, toys, pets, or humans. So, when a cat grabs ahold of their toys or your hand (ouch!) and starts to bunny kick, they’re likely playing, and not violently attacking.

Why does my cat follow me into the bathroom?

They know the routine: when you’re sitting on the potty you’re not going anywhere for a while. Many cats love to curl up on their person’s lap on the toilet. They have your undivided attention for a certain amount of time: you’re not working, or cooking, or knitting, or reading a book, or watching TV.

What does it mean when a cat stares at you?

If your cat’s staring at you whilst also in a crouched position with their tail tucked in, it’s generally a sign that your cat’s frightened. They may also be hiding underneath a coffee table or bed and their staring is because they’re keeping an eye on the potential ‘danger’.

How do you tell a cat off?

Discourage Bad Behavior

  1. Shake a noisy can: If you see your cat jump on the counters or somewhere it shouldn’t be, shake a can with some pennies in it to startle your cat.
  2. Use deterrents: Some cats dislike citrus smells, red pepper flakes, and commercially available sprays designed to keep cats away from certain areas.

Should I let my cat sleep with me?

Bill Fish, cofounder of Tuck.com, says, without question, there are positives to allowing your cat into your bed each night, including giving both of you a sense of security, emotionally and physically. “Having a guest in bed with you also reduces stress as well as brings warmth and comfort,” he said.

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Do cats know their names?

Cats know their names, but don’t expect them to always come when you call. Whatever you named your cat, and whatever cute nicknames you end up using for her, domesticated felines can understand their monikers.

Why does my cat prefer me over my husband?

Most cats do pick one person they prefer over any others in the household. This doesn’t mean the cat doesn’t like your partner. It just means he likes you more. Best thing you can do for your cat is accept him the way he is with the personality he was born with.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much?

26-03-2017 · It’s how cats remove meat from bones; Licking is important for coat maintenance; Licking removes the scent of prey after a meal; It’s how mothers clean their kittens and help them eliminate their waste; In a multicat environment or in a cat colony, allogrooming helps create a familiar group scent; Licking is a way cats cool themselves

26-03-2017

Why does my cat lick me so much

Oh, the cat’s tongue. It’s as cute as can be when it’s peeking out just a bit from the cat’s mouth as she drinks water or delicately grooms herself. It’s small and pink and so adorable. Yet, when the cat’s tongue starts licking you, that little sandblaster seems as if it could take off several layers of skin.

Licking serves many social and practical functions:

  • It’s how cats remove meat from bones
  • Licking is important for coat maintenance
  • Licking removes the scent of prey after a meal
  • It’s how mothers clean their kittens and help them eliminate their waste
  • In a multicat environment or in a cat colony, allogrooming helps create a familiar group scent
  • Licking is a way cats cool themselves
  • Licking is used for stress relief
  • Licking helps remove external parasites

That’s just a few of the ways that cute little tongue is kept busy.  In a previous article I discussed in detail why cats groom so much (access article here) but in this post I want to cover the licking that cats tend to do toward family members.

When your cat licks you, is it the feline equivalent of a kiss? Is she marking you as hers? Well, let’s examine some of the reasons cats lick us.

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Why Does My Cat Lick Me? 5 Satisfying Reasons

04-01-2000 · Your question that why does my cat lick me should have been addressed till now but if not then we have something special for you. Why Does My Cat Lick Me Than Bite Me? Cat Do this to communicate its feelings with you. When your cat licks you then bites you, then you have to pay extra attention towards your cat’s body.

04-01-2000

Why does my cat lick me? A question that cat owners ask but the answers do not satisfy them.

If you are encountering this problem, you are not alone. There are several reasons for your question, “why does my cat lick me”, but most of them are related to affection.

How? Let’s find out!

Why Do Cats Lick You?

There are several reasons why does your cat lick you.

1.Firstly, it is a method of creating a social bond. The younger cats are licked by their mother in affection and this is the way cats grow.

It is not a surprise that cats exhibit the same behaviour when they grow which is quite natural.

Have you ever noticed that cats do not only lick their owners? They lick other cats and animals as well but if other animals retaliate, that is another case.

However, the basic point to be concluded from this is that when cats lick, they simply try to engage with someone (whether it is their owner or some other animal).

Why Does My Cat Lick Me
Image Source – Unsplash | Image Credit – Mikhail Vasilyev

2. Secondly, if your cat licks excessively, then the case might differ but how?

Look, cats also lick when they are anxious or stressed. The excess licking elaborates this.

Now, this is your duty as a cat owner to identify what is the reason your cat is stressed.

What I would suggest is to pay a visit to a vet and discuss the problem. However, it is to note that this is not always the case.

3. Cats like to mark what is theirs so that other cats or animals know that. Well, what does that mean?

If a cat sees you as theirs, the cat may begin to lick you to show you a part of its territory.

Although this behaviour is common but it can be troublesome if you have more than one cat.

There are certain functions that licking serves, such as:

  • Licking is essential for coat maintenance
  • Licking helps to get rid of external parasites
  • Cats cool themselves through licking as well
  • Cats deal with stress through licking

4. How do you show your affection to your pet? “By petting it”. Correct!

Your cat also loves you the way you do. Therefore, it licks you to return the favour. This is the honesty of a cat which is one of its best trait!

5. Cats do see their owners as a part of their family and they try to show it. Your cat attempts to teach you to groom yourself by licking you because it is the same behaviour that the cat received.

Your question that why does my cat lick me should have been addressed till now but if not then we have something special for you.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Than Bite Me?

Cat Do this to communicate its feelings with you. When your cat licks you then bites you, then you have to pay extra attention towards your cat’s body.

This is because your cat is trying to convey some sort of message to you because (as we discussed earlier) cat consider you a part of its family. So be aware!

The reason your cat licks you have been discussed above. However, there can be various reasons why your cat bites you.

It is to note that sometimes cats bite with affection and sometimes with anger and depression. The two bites are easy to identify and when a cat is angry, its bite will be accompanied by hissing, waning and meows.

Therefore, your cat might lick and then bite you in affection or as a warning sign to stop petting it.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me

Why It Sometimes Hurt When a Cat Licks You?

The reason behind is the black-facing barbs on your cat’s tongue. These barbs are of the same material as a cats claws. This also explains why cats tongue feels like sandpaper.

The barbs play a very important role in the grooming of cats as these easily allow the cat to keep its coat clean from dirt.

It is to note that your cat does not know that it is hurting you by licking as for then it feels good. Your cat is only attempting to display some love.

How To Prevent My Cat From Licking Me?

The cat owners enjoy when their cat licks them if this does not exceed a certain limit. Let me tell you some ways you can discourage your cat from licking you in a way it does not feel that licking is not appreciated.

If you play with your cat, it will play an important role in distracting your cat. This can prevent your cat from licking you if you are engaged in playful activities. I suggest you cat toys such as balls and wands.

What about distracting your cat with a tasty meal? Yes, this would work.

A delicious and healthy meal for your cat can be a good idea if you want to discourage your cat from licking you on your nose, fingers and hairs without ignoring it.

Be patient because patience is the key. Do not get annoyed and never ever try to hit your cat or yell at it because you are its owner and it is your duty to respect its feelings.

Should I Let My Cat Lick Me?

Yes, definitely. This is because this is a sign that your cat feels safe and secure with you and trust you. Do you remember that we discussed that cats consider us a part of their family when we discussed why does my cat lick me?

So why not let them play with us when they enjoy spending time with us?

Is It OK To Let Your Cat Lick Your Face?

There are a few things to consider here. There are certain parasites and bacteria that are present on your cat’s saliva.

Therefore, when your cat will lick you on your face, the parasites and bacteria will transfer as well which can lead to infections.

This is the reason I would recommend you to prevent your cat from licking your face!

Should You Let Your Cat Sleep In Bed With You?

Doctor Steve Weinberg says that it is fine if your cat sleeps with you on your bed because this can lead to a comfortable and a calm sleep at night (because who may feel safer with your cat).

Why Does My Cat Lick Me
Image Source – Unsplash | Image Credit – Chris Abney

Conclusion:

The answer to “why does my cat lick me” has been delivered to you. I hope that your concern is addressed and I assure you that you are not the only one who is searching for the solution to this problem.

Thank You for reading the blog post. For more articles, refer to our website and open the doors of knowledge for yourself!

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Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

In general, cats may lick with the hopes of getting groomed in return. But don't worry if you're not yet an owner of a handy-dandy faux cat tongue licking device to return the favor. Reimers says that sometimes they just do it for the sake of affection, and some cats can even be trained to know and give licks willingly when asked.

Striped kitten licking man's finger

Image Credit: fotovampir/iStock/GettyImages

Though they don't have the same slobbery reputation as their canine counterparts, four-legged feline friends have been known to give all sorts of affectionate licks and kisses to humans when they want to.

General cat licking can have all sorts of behavioral explanations and motivations. But if and when they decide to lick the people caring for them, it can be a very good sign for everybody involved.

According to cat behavioral specialist Rita Reimers, kitties typically lick themselves for general grooming and survival purposes. When they lick others in their vicinity, it's a signal they've accept you and are attempting to promote a bond with you.

Cat people have already suspected kitty "kisses" are good for bonding, and have even created some unique products that help even more with this bonding process.

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As a cat decides to accept you more and more into their world (and, let's face it, the world is their domain), you may find yourself getting more licks.

In general, cats may lick with the hopes of getting groomed in return. But don't worry if you're not yet an owner of a handy-dandy faux cat tongue licking device to return the favor. Reimers says that sometimes they just do it for the sake of affection, and some cats can even be trained to know and give licks willingly when asked.

Of course, if cats are licking excessively or causing hot patches on their skin, it could be a sign of distress, a health issue, or general anxiety. But, normal kisses are usually just your kitty's way of saying, "Hey. You. You're alright."

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So if you're lucky enough to get a coveted kitty lick, consider it a good sign that you've been accepted into the cat's clique.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

03-09-2021 · Cats use licking as a means of marking territory.Licking marks you with your kitty’s unique scent, establishing the fact that you are their human. Mama cats lick their kittens as a means of showing the world they are hers, and your cat could be doing the same thing to you.

03-09-2021

(Picture Credit: ryoichi/Getty Images)

Does your cat ever lick you? Have you ever wondered why they do it?

Cats aren’t exactly notorious for their outward affection. We humans tend to think that, when one of our pets licks us, it’s the equivalent of a “kiss,” and it’s a way to show love.

While love and adoration may be one reason why your cat is licking you, here are several other reasons as to why you may be receiving sandpaper kisses.

They’re Marking You

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Cats use licking as a means of marking territory. Licking marks you with your kitty’s unique scent, establishing the fact that you are their human.

Mama cats lick their kittens as a means of showing the world they are hers, and your cat could be doing the same thing to you.

Cats and kittens will lick each other as a way of social bonding, and you are being accepted and welcomed into your cat’s inner circle.

You Need To Be Clean

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Once your cat has established that you belong to them, they may continue to lick you in attempt to groom you.

Mother cats also use licking as a means of cleaning their kittens, and your cat is continuing the tradition their mother taught them.

If your cat is licking you as a means of grooming, you should feel honored, as that shows how comfortable and secure they feel around you.

You Are A Pacifier Substitute

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Cats who are weaned too early or were orphaned are prone to developing oral fixations that make them excessive lickers.

They missed out on the weaning process at a young, pivotal stage, so they may have some leftover licking and suckling habits as a result.

Your Cat Is Anxious

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Excessive licking from your cat can also be a sign of anxiety. Some cats may even lick themselves — or your arm — bald due to excessive stress and anxiety.

If your cat seems to be licking and grooming due to anxiety or stress, pinpoint what the source of anxiety is and remove it.

If it’s not that simple or you can’t identify an obvious trigger, talk to your vet about anxiety treatments.

How To Curb Your Cat’s Licking

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

An occasional kiss from your cat is nice, but having your skin worn raw by the rough texture of your cat’s tongue is not.

If your cat can’t seem to stop licking you, there are several ways you can deter them from the behavior. Try distracting your cat with some interactive play or with some play-inducing catnip.

If your cat still can’t seem to stop licking you, reprimanding will likely not help. Their licking is natural and, for the most part, a sign of affection or bonding.

If distraction methods don’t work, try giving your cat a nice, deep massage. Reciprocating the affection in this fashion can help curb any compulsive need to mark you, because you are showing them how much you care, as well.

A behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian can give you advice for identifying the causes and correcting the behavior if all else fails.

Is your cat an excessive licker? Do you mind it? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Does My Cat Lick Me? Those Feline Lingual PLEASURES

09-11-2018 · So, why does my cat lick me? Cats lick humans as a display of affection, they trust you, to groom you, ask you for food or possibly to warn you of danger. It’s generally thought of as a positive behavior. Just so you know you’re not the boss of the house. Your cats own you and they show you by licking you.

09-11-2018

Like any morning ritual, I have a cat that lovingly crawls onto my chest and begins to lick any part of my face. Basically, any part of my bare skin that’s available.  I’m not sure why they do this, so I did some research and dug into this phenomenon to get an idea.

So, why does my cat lick me?  Cats lick humans as a display of affection, they trust you, to groom you, ask you for food or possibly to warn you of danger. It’s generally thought of as a positive behavior.  

Just so you know you’re not the boss of the house. Your cats own you and they show you by licking you.

Their tongues aren’t just for butt licking, spreading those pesky FEL-d4 allergens or creating hairballs of horror.

Cat mouth open showing tongue

They’re used for bonding and survival.

A Cat Tongue: Mini Claw Made of Sandpaper?

Anything dealing with a cat is always mysterious.  With grooming, their efficient little tongue is a versatile part of their body so staying clean can mean life or death.  

It’s instinctive. They’re so meticulous because they need to hide their smell from prey.

Plus how else would they get water into their bodies? A cats tongue is very important.

Ok, back to licking you.

Why does it hurt when a cat licks you?  It hurts when a cat licks you because of their sandpaper feeling tongue.  

No, their tongues aren’t made of sandpaper. Those small even shaped barbs or hooks are called Papillae.

Your cat’s tongue is covered in them.

They are made from keratin much like our fingernails, says Alexis Noel from Georgia Tech. 

He also states that those spines on your cat’s tongue point in the same direction.  The direction that takes anything they are licking head back towards their throat.  

Those tongues are able to detangle all sorts of knots and break (tease) it apart.

What Does It Mean When A Cat Licks You?

Your cat is returning the favor by licking you in the same way you give them affection with petting.  

The same way we give hugs, kittens will use licking to make a connection with us and to claim us as theirs.  

They were borning into being cleaned by licking from their mothers.

So, washing is caring.

While we all love to be “kissed” by our cats, licking can get tiresome and excessive.  

It’s best to understand this feline behavior so we can properly divert them when it happens.

Here are the most common reasons why your cat licks you:

  • They are taking ownership of you
  • Returning the favor from you petting them
  • You taste good – salty skin
  • They want attention
  • They are cleaning (washing) you
  • They’re giving affection
  • Stress or feel anxious
  • Relaxing – they feel calmer around their own scent

How To Stop Your Cat From Licking You?

If you want your cat to stop licking you, please don’t punish them, simply distract them or train them with repetition.  

Pay attention to their behavior when it’s about to start.

You can redirect the licking with a food dispensing toy, catnip filled toy or some cat grass that you have nearby.

If your cats are licking you too much, could be from insufficient nursing as a kitten.

They may have developed some kind of oral fixation as a result.  I’ve read that this is the culprit of many compulsive biters and lickers.

outdoor calico cat licking their paw

You could try getting another cat, giving them a stuffed animal or fuzzy type blanket.

Basically, redirect their actions.

If nothing works and your cats are persistent, then try getting up and walking away.  

Maybe your cat will associate licking you with leaving and disappearing. They’ll learn eventually that you are a lick free human.

Why do cats lick your face?

I think cats lick our faces for affection, grooming and to tell us something.  

It’s preening. Cats extremely fastidious by nature and preen to remove hair and dirt. They learn these behaviors from birth when momma is licking them to “life”.

So, while you’re laying down and it’s feeding time, I’m sure your call will either yell at you or climb up to lick your face.

Why does my cat lick my nose?  When your cat specifically licks your nose, they’re showing a sign of a strong bond. It’s a claim of ownership over you by transferring their scent. Nose licks from cats are like kisses between humans on the cheek or forehead.

Why does my cat lick my hand? My cats lick my hands when they want to be pet or they smell something on them that they like.  Especially green olives!

Why does my cat lick my feet?  Cats may lick or rub on your feet because your scent might most pungent there or it’s just easily accessible.  

Your cat might be attracted to shoes. I have 1 cat, Tanta, that loves to hide my toddler’s shoes all around the house.  

It’s mostly specific to my youngest and it’s the shoes she wears every day. Strange behavior but I take it as she misses her.

Why does my cat lick my hair?

Your cat licks your hair as a way of showing love or making you their territory by grooming.  

It’s a social behavior where they want to clean your “fur” and smother it with their scent. I’ve gotten this strange behavior a time or two, but it doesn’t last long as my hair is too long.

They start doing that flicking motion with their mouth and sometimes gag.  Works better on short haired humans making a nice sticky cowlick.

“Some cats may also just enjoy the taste of hair products or even the natural oils found in human hair.” If this starts to bother you… “You should not look at, talk to or touch a cat who is licking hair, unless you are comfortable having the behavior increase in frequency. If you want to stop the behavior in progress, get up and leave,” says Dr. Christensen Bell, DVM, of Veterinary Behavior Consultations of NYC

Just be sure your cat isn’t eating your hair or becoming sick after licking it.

Why does my cat lick me after I shower?  

Your cat could be licking you after a shower because you might smell different, they’re thirsty or they need you to be dry.  

While cats are fascinated with water, they don’t (not all) like to be wet. Since you are part of their pride and own you, you can’t be wet either.

They will lick you after a shower in an attempt to get you dry.  

Same goes with your scent. You washed them off you, so now they need to “reapply” their love on you again.

Whenever I got out of the shower, my Tanta girl would immediately begin to lick all the water drops from my legs.  

When I gently would nudge her away, she’d go for my feet!

Below is a video from CatsandPats where his kitty is licking his hair!

 

Why does my cat lick me after biting? Or bite me after licking?

Some cats may bite after licking or lick then bite us as a warning sign so that we stop petting or playing with them, a sign of affection or signs of grooming.  

We really need to get a clear picture here of what’s going on at the moment.

Your cat could mean one thing or it could be in their behavior:

  • Over stimulation – Your cat could be telling you they’re done with the playing. This bite might be a gentle way of saying enough and the lick is saying I still love you.
  • Love Bites – In this case, your cat is showing affection to you.  If your cat isn’t bothered by anything that’s happening, petting or sitting close, the message of love is being communicated here.
  • They want to play or be loved – Cats aren’t the best communicators.  

It’s hard to tell if they want to play or not. So, they need to come up with a way (non-verbal) to tell you.  My cat often whines, paws at me or simply stares at me until I go to her.

So, the combo of the bite-lick / lick-bite can be one of them.

If you want to read an interesting article on cat eyes (more specifically, the reasoning for your cat’s excess tears) – click here to read our article! 

Related Questions:

Why does my cat headbutt me?  A cat will headbutt (or bunting) you as a sign of affection or love.  Indoor cats and outdoor cats will headbutt and do face rubbing to mark each other as a family or with cats they know. 

What if my cat is licking too much?  Excessive cat licking.  These are known as “fur mowers”.  Your cat can be licking too much from having parasites, has a skin infection, being bored, stressed, having anxiety, they’ll have bald patches or could be a compulsive disorder.  

These reasons seem to be more prevalent with indoor cats because it’s less exciting and less exercise.

Cat licking concrete floor?  Your cat is licking the concrete for minerals that she is lacking in her body for possible anemia, including calcium and other minerals. 

Why do cats lick rocks?  Some cats may lick rock out of a craving for dirt or earthly matter (geophagia).  It’s instinctive due to a compensation for a deficiency they may have.

Why does my cat lick furniture?  When cats start licking items that aren’t food, like furniture or walls, they can be showing signs of a form of Pica. Pica is a behavior in cats eating things that aren’t food.  Definitely, see your vet for a consult about your cat’s current diet.

Sources:

http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-articles/cats-who-suckle-and-lick-people

http://www.felinecrf.org/symptoms_treatments_index.htm#L

Cat Licking - Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

Have you ever asked ‘why does my cat lick me’? It’s a common question many cat owners have. The truth is there are a number of different reasons why your cat licks you – and many of them are to do with affection! Possible reasons why your cat licks you. One reason your cat may lick you is because it’s a way of creating a social bond ...

cat walking through kitchen
Purina One

Possible reasons why your cat licks you

One reason your cat may lick you is because it’s a way of creating a social bond. From a young age a cat’s mother would not only lick them as a way of grooming them, but also to show affection. Cats then replicate this behaviour with you as a way of showing their own affection – it simply comes naturally.

This licking behaviour is not just exclusive between pet and owner. Cats often lick other cats and even other animals to show their affection. Do keep an eye out, however, when your cat begins to lick other cats or other animals, as not all cats or animals like to be licked. In some cases some other cats or animals may retaliate or become anxious when a cat tries to lick them.

Another reason your cat may lick you is because they are stressed or anxious. It is very common for cats and other animals to begin to lick things excessively if they are stressed. This can include licking you; if you think this may be the case it might be best to pay a visit to your local vet. If you think something has caused your cat to be stressed, try to identify the source of their worry in case you can remove it.

Cats like to mark their territory so other cats and animals know what is theirs. If a cat sees you as theirs, they may begin to lick you to mark you as part of their territory. This is to let other cats know who you belong to. Whilst this type of behaviour is completely normal it could lead to problems in the house if you have more than one cat or pet, so watch out for territorial behaviour.

Why it sometimes hurts when a cat licks you

It can sometimes hurt when a cat licks you, especially if your cat does this excessively and in the same place. This is because of special back-facing barbs on your cat’s tongue called ‘papillae’. These barbs are made from the same material as your cat’s claws, which explains why their tongue feels like sandpaper.

These barbs are important when your cat grooms themselves. The barbs help to remove dirt and debris from a cat’s coat. If the barbs weren’t sharp they would not be able to pick up this dirt and a cat would not be able to keep himself or herself as clean.

Cat licking it's mouth

Whilst most of us enjoy the occasional lick from our cats, it can become too much if your cat does it all the time. Many cat owners want to discourage their cats from licking them without pushing them away or making them feel as if they are not wanted or appreciated.

To avoid making your cat feel like this, distraction is the best way to encourage a cat to stop licking you. The first method of distraction we recommend is playing with your cat. This will still make your cat feel as if you want them because you are interacting with them and spending time with them. Cat toys such as wands and balls make for a great distraction.

Another distraction technique you could use is food. Distracting your cat with a tasty treat is a great way to encourage them to stop licking you. We do however recommend trying to play with them first, as too many treats aren’t good for their health – they should always be part of their daily food allowance. It could also teach your cat that licking you means they will get a treat, which will only encourage them to lick you more!

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Why Does my Cat Lick Me then Bite Me? 5 Reasons I ...

29-05-2021 · When my Siberian cat Alexei licks me I take it as a sign of love. However, when he quickly follows the licking up with a bite I begin to think that he might feel otherwise! I was heartened to discover…

29-05-2021

When my Siberian cat Alexei licks me I take it as a sign of love. However, when he quickly follows the licking up with a bite I begin to think that he might feel otherwise!

I was heartened to discover that this problem is not unique to Alexei and that many other cat owners have asked why does my cat lick me then bite me?

It can be very confusing when your cat displays what seems to be loving behaviour and then behaviour that can actually cause you pain. Is it angry? What have you done wrong? And what should you do?

Here are 5 reasons why your cat may lick you and then bite you – plus some of the other most frequently asked questions in this area.

woman with tabby cat why does my cat lick me then bite me

Why Does My Cat Lick me then Bite Me? 5 Reasons

1. To express their love

If your cat approaches you and gives you a couple of little licks and then a bite when you weren’t petting them before hand – and if they seem happy and calm – they are probably trying to show you their love.

This little nip is a normal way for them of expressing their love. I am afraid that your cat most likely doesn’t understand that this love might be a bit unpleasant for you to receive.

Kittens and sometimes grown-up cats will often lick and nip each other. Their skin is a bit tougher than ours so it most likely doesn’t hurt them. Thus your cat thinks this is an appropriate way to express its love for you.

woman snuggles with tabby cat

2. They are Grooming You to Bond

Cats will give little bits in their own grooming process when they have matted fur or need to get rid of something on their fur. Or they will do this when grooming each other, particularly when they are kittens.

Cats have keratin spines on their tongue – this is why your cat’s tongue can feel a bit exfoliating. These spines allow your cat to clean itself thoroughly.

grey cat with yellow eyes and tongue up

If there is lots of licking and not much biting then they may be attempting to groom you, as if you were another cat. And if they are focussing on licking and nibbling on your hair then grooming is an even more likely explanation.

If your cat is trying to groom you this is a very positive sign as it shows they have a good bond with you. Remember, cats don’t randomly groom other cats – they will only groom the cats in their group.

toyger cat grooming

3. It is Overstimulated

Have you ever noticed that your cat can quickly go from being happy and content whilst you are stroking or playing with it to suddenly being very unhappy and frustrated? This normally means that they are overstimulated.

Our cats of course can’t tell us to leave them alone so they communicate this through the lick and bite.

tabby cat holding person's hand

There are no set rules about overstimulation. What is too much for one cat will be fine for another. Your cat will probably have a tendency towards a small amount or a large amount of stimulation being comfortable.

However, there may be some variances in what they will tolerate depending on their mood eg they may like more cuddles if you have been away or if they are feeling unwell.

Also, your cat may become agitated if you spend too much time petting a part of their body that is more sensitive. Have a look at your cat’s ears when this happens.

If they are flat against its head or flicking back and forth it is time to leave your kitty alone.

tabby cat licks human finger

Another good way to know if you have overstimulated your cat is by watching what they do after the lick and bite. If they run away and hide then it is likely that they have been overstimulated. If they stay near you then it might be one of the other reasons in this article.

4. They are Playing

If there is a toy involved in the lick and bite then it is likely that your cat wants to play. However, the desire to play and overstimulation can look quite similar.

If your cat has its whiskers and ears pointing forward, tail up, slightly arched back, and dilated pupils they may well be in the mood to play.

grey cat with colourful feather toy

The key determinant of playing vs overstimulation is how your cat reacts after the bite. If your cat wants to stay around you and is bouncy and looking happy then they are probably looking to play. If they tense up and depart the scene overstimulation is the most likely explanation.

If your cat stays on the scene then bring out a feather toy or other cat toy and you’ll soon find out if they are in the mood to play.

British blue cat chewing red ball of threads

How long do cats live? How to get a cat to eat? How to train a cat not to bite? How often do cats pee? and How to Pet a Cat.

5. It is stressed

Excessive licking and biting can be a sign of stress or anxiety. Some cat breeds like Siamese cats will chew things when they are anxious. Alas, this chewing behavior may also extend to chewing parts of you.

Some cats will start licking non-stop or in a compulsive manner when they are stressed.

wedge siamese cat
wedge siamese cat

10 Types of Siamese Cats, Siamese Cat Personality Profile, All you need to know about the Lynx Point Siamese, 13 Most Popular Siamese Cat Colors and 12 Sensational Siamese Cat Names.

If your cat licks you and then bites you it is unlikely that they are genuinely angry with you. You may well have seen your cat angry or scared.

Angry cats tend to get very arched and firm backs, fur standing on end, and quite a hit of hissing. At worst you may be annoying your cat due to overstimulation.

Licking and Biting Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does my cat only lick and bite me?

Probably because you are the person that they love the most.

couple with tabby cat

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2. Why does my cat lick and bite other cats?

As mentioned, licking and biting other cats can be quite normal in the world of kitties. It could also be because of one of the reasons above. However, it is likely that the other cat knows what your cat is up to!

3. What do gentle cat bites mean?

This is most likely a little love bite from your kitty. If your cat is relaxed and happy when biting you gently then this is the most likely explanation. However, if they are tense then it may be time to back off before the gentle part becomes history.

grey cat licks grey kitten

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4. Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?

If your cat is grabbing and biting your hand it is probably mimicking hunting behaviour. This is how your cat would treat captured prey. This would mean that it was tearing its prey apart so that they could eat it but the odds are they don’t plan on doing this to any of your body parts.

5. How do I get my cat to stop biting me?

If you want your cat to stop biting you, make sure you react to every cat bite, even if it is gentle. Pause and very loudly and firmly say No. Then don’t make eye contact with your cat for at least about a minute so they also link biting with not having your attention.

cat tongue licking up close

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Why do cats lick and bite you

06-01-2022 · This particular cat behavior extends to their favored humans. Your cat may lick your at your hair or elsewhere and then bite you or vice versa because, like her siblings, she is grooming you as a way of strengthening your bond and relationship. 2. Your cat is showing you affection. This is a way for a cat to show her affection for you.

06-01-2022
why do cats lick and bite you
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Your cat may lick and bite you as a way to bond by grooming you, to show affection, or as an invitation for playtime. She may also be licking and  biting you to show that she’s had enough of your attention and it is her way of telling you to stop petting her. 

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Why does my cat lick me then bite me?

Here are five common ones why your cat licks and then bites:

1. Your cat wants to bond with you by grooming you. 

Cats normally lick their fur when grooming themselves. They usually do the grooming process by biting their fur to remove tangles and then lick it afterward to finish it off. Similarly, they may also lick their fur first and do some nips or little bites on particular parts of their body. 

This particular cat behavior extends to their favored humans. Your cat may lick your at your hair or elsewhere and then bite you or vice versa because, like her siblings, she is grooming you as a way of strengthening your bond and relationship.  

2. Your cat is showing you affection. 

This is a way for a cat to show her affection for you.  It means your cat is comfortable, relaxed, and contented in your presence. Along with her intention to groom you, her behavior signifies that she is happy and feels a deep connection with you. 

3. Your cat may be telling you that she wants to play with you.

As complex and mysterious as they are, cats have amusing ways to communicate with their owners. Your cat may invite and initiate playtime by licking and then biting you. How do you know she is in a playful mood? Look for cues like ears and whiskers that point forward, with the tail up, and the pupils somewhat dilated. Your cat may also walk with an arched back, act like it is stalking a prey, and may crouch with her rear end slightly raised.

By licking and biting you gently, your cat is telling you that you are her best friend and she is in the mood for playtime. 

4. Your cat may be telling you to stop giving her physical attention. 

Cats love playtime with their humans and it is a great way to bond. However, cats also have mood swings and if you become overly-aggressive in playing and petting her she may feel agitated. Overstimulation happens when a cat’s sensitive body part is touched accidentally or repeatedly. Your cat may lick and then give you a gentle bite to signify that she wants to take a break and for you to stop giving her physical attention. 

These are some of the signs that your cat is overstimulated:

  • your cat may ripple her tail 
  • her ears are flicking back and forth 
  • her ears will flatten against her head 

5. Your cat may be stressed. 

Some cats are prone to stress and even aggression. This is manifested through signs like biting and excessive licking. Your cat may be licking then biting you because she may be stressed and anxious.  Other cat breeds like the Siamese may tend to chew things more than others and this may extend to your hands.  If you suspect that your cat’s peculiar behavior is due to stress, consult your vet for the proper treatment. Also CBD oil such as Chill Paws helps to lessen stress and behavioral issues with cats.

Why does it hurt when my cat licks me?

You may feel uncomfortable each time your cat licks you especially if she is excessively licking a particular part of your hand or face.  This is because of the back-facing barbs or spines in her tongue called papillae. It is scoop-shaped and hollow which allows it to store and hold saliva. 

The discomfort you feel may be due to the sandpaper-like sensation when your cat’s tongue brushes against your skin. The barbs help remove dirt from a cat’s coat that is why it has to be sharp so that cats may be able to keep themselves clean. 

Conclusion 

Cats communicate with their owners through various body language and behaviors and one way of doing so is by licking and biting you. Your cat may lick and bite you as an invitation for playtime and to show affection. It may also mean that she is overstimulated and wants to take a break. However, it may also signify that she is stressed and you should bring her to the vet at once for prompt treatment.  

Image: istockphoto.com / luliia Alekseeva

Category: at https://uspetslove.com.

Why Does My Cat Lick Then Bite Me?

16-01-2000 · Ever wonder why your cat licks then bites you? We've come up with three of the most common reasons why cat licks turn to bites!

16-01-2000

why does my cat lick then bite me

Here’s the scenario: You’re hanging out with Dr. Tuna (that’s your cat’s name obviously) and you’re gently scratching his cheek. Which he LOVES by the way. Then Dr. Tuna decides to start licking your hand ever so slightly.

You think, “Well, his tongue is a bit rough but he seems to be saying thanks for all the petting. I’ll allow it.”

Not a second later, Dr. Tuna is chomping down! Not super hard but it’s not exactly gentle either.

Ouch! What the heck, Dr. Tuna?!

Ever wondered why your cat licks then bites you?

You’re in the right place. I set out to get the answer and do my best to solve this feline mystery! We’re going to dive deep into every possible scenario along with the context clue you need to look for to figure out what explanation makes the most sense.

But if you’re just looking for a quick answer as to why cats lick and bite then here it is:

Cats that lick and bite are most likely showing affection in the form of a love bite. This is especially likely if you’re just relaxing and not actively petting your cat. However, it could also be a sign of an overstimulated cat or just grooming behavior. 

Let’s get started!

What Can We Really Know About Cat Behavior?

First off, it’s important to realize the sad fact that we can’t have a conversation with your cat… or any cat. That means we’re making educated guesses on why cats do certain things and we really need to rely on the context (aka what else was going on) to learn more about the behavior.

That’s why we’re going to lay out three possible reasons why your cat may lick then bite you while giving you plenty of context cues to look for so you can figure out which one makes the most sense.

When it comes to understanding cat behavior, context is extremely important!

Scenario #1: Lick Then Bite Without Any Petting

Here’s what it looks like: You’re sitting on the couch doing your thing and then kitty calmly approaches, licks one or two times, and gives you a little bite. You weren’t petting her at all and your cat seems completely calm and relaxed throughout the licking and biting.

The Biggest Factors To Look For: A happy, calm, relaxed cat that isn’t being pet before the lick and bite.

You May Be Dealing With A Love Bite

In this scenario, your cat is probably sharing a little love bite that’s preceded by a lick.

But what exactly are love bites?

According to Dr. Karen Becker, a little nip is a completely normal way of saying they love you and a common sign of affection but unfortunately “your cat doesn’t understand her love bites aren’t always pleasant for you.”

These kind of cat bites are actually a normal part of how cats (but especially kittens) interact with each other. Dr. Becker goes on to explain that “ kitties nip each other affectionately, and their skin is tougher than ours.” So it’s kind of like kitty kisses!

kittens showing love bites
Just a couple of kittens saying hello!

I can confirm firsthand that my cat Debbie is a big fan of love bites.

Unfortunately, her favorite spot to go for is my nose!

I’ll be sitting in bed, reading a book, and winding down for the day. Debbie will stroll up, let out a little chirp, and ever so slowly give my nose a bite.

Not only does it make me a little self-conscious about my nose, but it also doesn’t feel that great. But I’m not sure which of us is weirder…my cat for biting my nose or me for letting it happen more than once!

(Okay, it’s happened a lot.)

Or Your Cat Could Be Grooming You

Others argue that the licks and bites that occur outside of petting are part of the grooming process for cats and they’re just giving you a good cleaning.

Well, it’s really not much of cleaning so maybe we should think of it like a not so subtle hint.

So does this grooming theory hold weight?

Cats do occasionally bite during the grooming process. Usually, it happens when they can’t quite get something off their fur or they need to really scratch an itch. If you watch enough cats groom themselves or each other, you’ll eventually see that it’s not unusual for them to mix in a little nibble.

I’ve actually got a story for this one, too. I had a foster cat named Stormy that made it her mission to lick my wet hair after a shower. This always started as licks but then eventually ended in a bite or two.

That being said, I’m starting to get worried about what this article is saying about me.

But back to the grooming explanation for the lick/bite combo…

I believe the cat love bites are more likely unless your cat is obviously trying to groom you. If your cat licks you more than a few times then it’s possible she’s trying to give you a grooming but if it’s just one lick followed by a bite it’s probably a love bite.

Scenario #2: Your Cat Is Happy But Overstimulated

Here’s what it looks like: You’re giving your cat a good petting. Maybe you’re petting her quickly or just focusing on one spot a little too long. Or maybe you like to live dangerously and you’ve gone for a belly rub. Either way, she leans in, gives your finger a lick or two, and then a nice chomp!

The Biggest Factors To Look For: What kind of body language are you seeing from your cat? Does she look loose and comfortable?

If you’re not sure what to look for, Dr. Sophia Yin has an excellent poster showing you what to look for. 

What Is Overstimulation?

Your cat may be experiencing something called overstimulation or sometimes called petting-induced aggression. Overstimulation occurs when the pets you’re giving your cat go from pleasant and enjoyable to suddenly uncomfortable or frustrating.

Why do cats get overstimulated?

While we can’t give a completely scientific explanation we know that cats are sensitive creatures with a clear threshold for when affection isn’t anymore.

I try to think of it like being ticklish. Sometimes someone could massage or rub your back and it might feel nice. But then they hit just the right spot near your ribs and suddenly you’re being tickled!

I know it’s a bit of a stretch (and anthropomorphizing animals isn’t a great habit to get in to) but I do think it’s still a useful way to think about overstimulation in cats. And I think it’s a better explanation than simply saying that your cat has mood swings!

The biggest problem is that our cats can’t let us know with words that something has become uncomfortable. Eventually, they get frustrated and communicate the only way they can think of…with a little cat bite!

So what can you do about overstimulated cats that go from happy and purring to licking and biting?

Your best option is to stop petting your cat before it happens or avoid areas that tend to lead to overstimulation. Different cats have different thresholds for how long they can be pet or areas that lead to overstimulation so you’ll have to learn what works best for your cat.

It’s important to note here that your cat will typically look loose and comfortable before overstimulation occurs but may show more stressful body language before the licking and biting occurs.

Always be observant of your cat’s behavior. If your cat already looks tense, stressed or fearful then don’t pet!

Try to pay attention to what your cat does after the lick and bite combination. If your cat creates distance by running away or hiding under something there’s a good chance they got overstimulated and they’re looking for some space. Make sure to give your cat the room they need and consider what happened right before she became overstimulated.

Eventually, you’ll be able to get a feel for the amount of petting your cat can handle and what they can’t.

Scenario #3: Your Cat Is Playing With You!

Here’s what it looks like: The tricky part is that playtime can look a lot like overstimulation! You’re petting your cat and then suddenly your cat licks then bites you! The big question is what does your cat do next?

The Biggest Factors To Look For: Does your cat take any kind of play postures after the first lick and bite combo or immediately start going after toys? If so, she’s probably just trying to play with you! If instead, your cat tries to run and create space you might be dealing with scenario #2.

How Your Cat Asks To Play

Your cat just might want to play! Remember, your cat can’t just say, “Hey, let’s play!”

Instead, they have to find a way to let you know when she wants to play.

While grabbing or toy would seem like a perfectly clear signal some of our cats might prefer to be a little more forward and let the chomping do the talking.

So how can you tell if the licking and biting combo is actually a request to play?

You’ll want to pay close attention to what your cat does immediately after!

If she stays and still seems interested or sprints little circles around the house, she’s probably ready to play. But if she looks tense or hides it probably scenario number two and she’s ready for a break.

this kitten is ready to play
This kitten is ready to play!

Frequently Asked Questions

I hope these scenarios helped clear up the great feline licking and biting mystery! But if you’re still left with more questions I’m here to help. I’ve put together some of the most common questions I’ve gotten about cats that lick and bite.

Q: Why does my cat bite me gently?

Gentle biting is a way for your cat to communicate. Most of the time it’s a “love bite” which is one of the many ways your cat may show affection. But it could also be your cat’s way of saying they’ve had enough petting. You need to pay close attention to your cat’s body language to figure out what your cat is trying to say.

Q: Why does my cat lick my other cat and then bite?

It could be because they’re grooming the other cat, they want to play or they’re feeling frustrated and overstimulated. Check out your cat’s body language which will help you understand exactly what’s going on. There’s a good chance your other cat knows exactly what the cat bites mean!

Q: Why does my cat lick then bite me but not my partner?

Somebody is the favorite! Your cat may be licking and biting you as part of a “love bite”, they may be asking you to stop petting them after they’ve had enough or they just want to play! Pay close attention to your cat’s body language and what they do after the bite.

What’s Your Experience? 

Have you gotten the lick then bite combo from your cats? What scenario do you think it is?

I’d love to hear and hope you have some stories as weird as mine!

Why Do Cats Lick You When You Pet Them?

28-03-2021 · The main reasons cats lick you when you pet them is because they love you, you taste good, to show passion, to gain attention, grooming, and

28-03-2021
Why do cats lick you when you pet them

Cats spend a major portion of the day licking their fur. Of course, they do it for grooming and taking care of hygiene issues. But why do cats lick you when you pet them?

Many people assume a cat licking its owner is a sign of affection and care. We agree! The act of a cat licking is closely associated with love, but there are other reasons too.

Still, confused? Read on till the end to know why kittens lick you when you pet them!

The main reasons cats lick you when you pet them is because they love you, you taste good, to show passion, to gain attention, grooming, and to deal with stress.

#1 They Love You

Human beings kiss, but cats don’t. They have their own ways of showing affection for their humans. Licking is something more than just grooming. If your feline starts licking you, the kittens around, or other pets in your household, it means they want to strengthen the bond of love.

This habit is transferred from the mother to its kittens. The mommy cat will lick and groom its baby to show the feeling of love. The kittens grow into adult cats and start practicing the same thing with their owners. Emotional moment! Isn’t it?

#2 You Taste Good

It may seem weird, but cats can lick your body to taste anything unusual on your skin. Remember the place you recently visited? You may have dropped the leftovers of something on your skin. It can have a sugary, salty or even bitter taste. But your furry friend likes it!

A common example of this is when you pet your cat after you workout. It is most likely your sweat that urges felines to lick and enjoy the salty taste. Interestingly enough, cat’s sweet taste buds are almost non-functional.

#3 To Show Possession

Cats are possessive when it comes to sharing owners with other animals. Felines “mark their territory” in several ways. They will scratch your skin, rub their cheeks with your skin, or come in contact to show their possession. But licking humans indicates their claiming their territory. A cat’s lick brings them close to their owners. Licking also alarms other animals that you belong to them!

#4 To Gain Attention

Cats are lovely pets that need attention from their owners. But if you are busy somewhere, they start licking your hands, legs or face. They want you to concentrate and spend time with them. Cats lick when they want to play, need food, or something is bothering them.

Just like meowing or pawing, licking is also purposed for grabbing your interest. They want you to feed them, pet them, and just be with them. How sweet is this!

why do cats stick their tongue out

#5 Grooming

Grooming is a natural feline behavior that is inherited from their ancestors. Cats lick their partners for cleaning, but, does licking benefit human beings?

When a cat tries to groom their owner, there is no hygienic benefit for the human. That being said, it does create a bond with the four-legged animal. Studies reveal when in groups, cats assign this grooming duty to one of the members known as the “allo-groomer.”

So the ‘allo-groomer’ role play can be another reason why cats lick you when you pet them!

cats grooming eachother

#6 Deal with stress

Is your cat feeling depressed? Or maybe it got separated from its partner? An anxious cat often shows prolonged licking or grooming behavior. Sometimes, cats do so when they are fighting with a medical issue. A lot of times, if you cat is going to the litter box every few minutes, they might have a UTI and might start licking you because they are stressed.

Excessive licking can result from a change of home, settling into a new environment, or the death of another kitty. In general, you should not be worried if your cat is licking a lot since it is natural behavior. However, if the grooming leads to the removal of fur, the appearance of dark skin spots, or other symptoms, we recommend a quick visit to a veterinarian.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me, And Then Bite Me

04-03-2020 · Why Does My Cat Lick Me. Cats are known for their independent nature, with a character generally very different from that of the dog. But, this does not mean that they are affectionate, even as much or more than dogs!

04-03-2020

cat lick
Why Does My Cat Lick Me

Cats are known for their independent nature, with a character generally very different from that of the dog. But, this does not mean that they are affectionate, even as much or more than dogs! Cats can show us their affection in many ways: lying next to us, rubbing or … sucking. 

If you have ever wondered why does my cat lick me then bite me, you are in the right place to find out.

When you live with a cat, you discover how incredible they are as pets. Do not be surprised if he only approaches you when he wants something: food, attention or, almost as if by a miracle, a dose of pampering. Perhaps this is why, every little show of affection you give them, they value it and receive it with much more enthusiasm. 

If you have seen yourself in the situation of petting your cat and that it responds to you with a lick and a subsequent bite, it is natural to be intrigued by why does my cat lick me all the time and it’s meaning. If you follow us, you will discover the answer to why my cat licks me and then bites me.

The lick has a clear connotation of hygiene, and you should know that they only groom those they consider as their family. The bite, on the other hand, requires paying attention to the animal’s body language to know how to interpret the message that accompanies it correctly.

Why Do Cats Lick? 

Surely more than once, you have wondered why, suddenly, your cat goes crazy licking you … as if he really loved you! These outbursts of tenderness and affection have a motive, but it is not always the same. Cats continually communicate with us, but they don’t do it in our own language. That is why it is important to know their body language to learn to interpret their behavior, understand them, and communicate with them.

Why Does Your Cat Lick You?

We have been analyzing the different situations in which a cat licks, and we can tell you the various possible causes of this behavior. A behavior that sometimes we do not understand, but that comforts us and, without a doubt, strengthens the bond with our feline. Usually, it is a positive social behavior, but we will tell you the possible options to help you better understand your cat.

My Cat Licks Me As A Sign of Love

Cats do not share our language, and to relate to them, understand them, and enjoy their company is necessary to learn it. Yes, as you probably thought most of the time, your cat licks you to express his love. It is his way of showing that he loves you and that he feels happy by your side. Just like when they lick each other or their kittens, it is a way of telling you that you are their family.

My Cat Licks Me to Socialize

Yes, as simple as socialization. Licking is one of the ways cats have to interact with people and other animals. In this way, they show their interest in you and convey confidence and security. Surely you will have seen how cats lick each other by way of affection and, other times, as an aid to clean the areas that they do not reach themselves.

My Cat Licks Me as a Protection

Cats lick their young to protect them. By cleaning them with their tongue, they not only take care of their hygiene, but they also eliminate the bacteria that may be in their body. Your cat can lick you for this same reason, to clean you and protect you from viruses. This clearly translates to his desire to keep you close and healthy.

My Cat Licks Me When He Is Playing

Licking and biting is a game for cats. While biting you softly, you don’t have to worry or scold him, it is his way of having fun, and he doesn’t do it with the intention of hurting you.

If your cat licks you and then bites you hard and you notice that his hair is frizzy, it is a sign that he is not comfortable or is behaving aggressively. Be patient if this happens in the first months of having you at home and teach him not to act like this.

My Cat Licks Me to Clean Me

Licking is a grooming behavior. Just as they lick themselves to wash, remove dirt and remove dead hair, they lick other cats and their humans. But don’t believe that they do this with anyone; they need to have a strong bond to do it.

My Cat Licks Me Because He’s Stressed

Licking is not always related to something good or with signs of affection. When cats are nervous or going through a time of anxiety, they need to lick. It can be yourself, a carpet, a piece of furniture, a toy, or you.

This lick can be somewhat compulsive; Don’t panic, it’s normal. Try to find out the reason that makes them feel this way and try to avoid it. It may be related to some annoying sound, changes in the house, in your daily routine, or the visit of a person or other animal. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid it, but surely you can take some measures to reduce the impact it produces on your cat.

 Cats also lick to mark their territory and to exchange odors. Surely your cat has licked your fingers many times after having been cooking, right?; They also usually do it if you have been touching aromatic plants that are attractive to them.

The Bite, How Do You Know What it Means?

According to the experience of the ethologists, among the cats that have been separated before the month of life of their mother and their siblings, it is usually usual that while we caress them, they begin to bite.

This is because they have not had the opportunity to learn, along with their brothers, to moderate their impulses. Enabling him to smell you before caressing him usually helps. Get used to bringing your hand toward your nose slowly and so it can recognize you.

If, on the contrary, the bites are soft and repetitive, it is a clear symptom that your pet is well socialized and indicates that there is a healthy bond between you. It has enough body self-control to communicate that it wants to play with you.

On other occasions, the bite reveals certain tiredness or preference not to maintain physical contact. It is his particular way of expressing himself that he has had enough fun for today and wants to be alone.

If despite its good purpose, this ritual is not to your liking or if its bites really hurt you, you should comply with the following recommendations:

  • Don’t lose your temper or scold him. 
  • Stop caressing him and take distance from him. 
  • On the other hand, reinforce the behaviors that you like, such as purring or licking, rewarding it with, for example, your favorite snack or treat.
  • Give it time to internalize it, don’t expect me to learn it overnight.

In summary, if you want to know why does my cat lick me and then bite me? Pay close attention to the bond you two have and how much you mean to him. This would help you know why, and the next time it happens, give him a good dose of pampering.

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Why Does My Cat Lick Me? [Updated August 2020]

02-08-2020 · A cat’s 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…

02-08-2020

A cat’s 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?”

6 Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Licks You

Although it may be impossible to say for sure, researchers, veterinarians, and cat behavior experts have suggested a number of reasons why your cat may lick you every now and again. Let’s dig in…

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 It Hurt When My Cat Licks Me?

A question directly related to, “Why does my cat lick me?” is “Why does it hurt when my cat licks me?” When it comes down to it, the answer is simple. 

As we mentioned earlier, a cat’s tongue is covered in little spines called papillae. These papillae are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human fingernails. 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.

Therefore, when a cat licks you – repeatedly rubbing their spine-covered tongue on your skin – it’s apt to hurt a little. It’s for this reason that cats’ tongues are often compared to sandpaper.

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Licking Me?

Unless your cat is repeatedly licking you and grooming excessively, licking isn’t usually anything to worry about – it’s a natural cat behavior. However, with the rough makeup of a cat’s tongue, it can be annoying to have them consistently licking you.

If you’re looking to curb this behavior, the best thing you can do is try to redirect their attention. If your cat likes cuddling, you might cuddle or start petting them to try and distract them from licking. Similarly, you might try and use a toy to divert their attention from licking to playing. Finally, you might simply walk away or move away from your cat if the licking becomes excessive.

While your cat licking you isn’t typically anything to worry about – and can even be a compliment – if at any time you’re concerned with their behavior, we recommend that you reach out to your veterinarian for advice.

Why does my cat lick me? - Cat in the Box LLC

(What if your cat grooms too much? Read this post, "Excessive grooming in cats.")Are there any other reasons why my cat might lick me? Maybe. Google this question and you’ll be flooded with answers like: cats lick to show love, or they lick because their mothers licked them when they were kittens, or because they were taken from their mothers too soon.

gray cat licking a finger

I once overheard a co-worker at the shelter where I volunteer baby-talking to one of the cats. “Aren’t you the sweetest?” she cooed. “I love, love, love your little kisses!”

Although I never asked, I assumed the cat was licking my fellow volunteer. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d heard a cat-lover refer to a cat’s licks as “kisses.”

Are they kisses? When a cat licks you, is she trying to share physical affection with her mouth the way a human would, but without the purse-able lips?

A cat’s lick means something to the cat, but probably not exactly what a kiss means to us.

Why does my cat lick my hand when I pet her?

 

Why do you pet a cat? I’ll guess that you find it soothing to stroke a living thing that is so soft and warm. It’s a relaxing, almost hypnotic behavior, and touching a cat’s silky coat produces a pleasant sensation on the skin, too. If you feel emotionally connected to your cat, petting adds a physical dimension to that closeness. You are probably thinking about how your cat feels, too. I’m sure you assume that petting is pleasant for him, too, like when someone gives you a little back scratch or a gentle massage.

But what does your cat think you are doing when you are petting her? To a cat, petting isn’t just like a backrub. It means something different.

What does petting mean to a cat and what does it have to do with licking?

cats grooming each other

According to researchers who studied how cats respond to being petted by humans, cats seemed to like it best when humans pet them the way other cats do.[1]

Now, we all know that cats don’t really “pet” each other. But they do touch each other in a few particular ways. Cats rub their bodies against each other, in a behavior that is called “allorubbing” by scientists. Cats also mutually groom each other, and this behavior is called “allogrooming.” Both allorubbing and allogrooming are behaviors that only cats who are already friends perform with each other. These are “affiliative” behaviors, meaning that they reaffirm the social bond between cats.

Reseachers discovered that when a human pets a cat, the cat views it as grooming behavior, not allorubbing. How did they figure that out? Cats who are allorubbing perform the routine in a very specific order of body parts, with an emphasis on those body parts that contain scent glands: lips, chin, cheek, between the eyes and ears, and near the base of the tail. Allogrooming cats, on the other hand, lick each other’s body parts in a random order.

The cats in this study showed absolutely no preference for the order in which they were petted by people. This suggested to researchers that cats probably view petting as an allogrooming activity.

So, when your cat licks your hand while you pet him, it is likely that he thinks you are grooming him. The licking is him returning the favor. That’s what allogrooming cats would do: one cat would start the licking, and the other cat would lick back to reaffirm the bond.[2]

So, when your cat licks you while you are petting her she is saying, effectively, “yes, yes, we are friends.”

 (What if your cat grooms too much? Read this post, "Excessive grooming in cats.")

Are there any other reasons why my cat might lick me?

Maybe. Google this question and you’ll be flooded with answers like: cats lick to show love, or they lick because their mothers licked them when they were kittens, or because they were taken from their mothers too soon.

Do any of these answers have merit? They might, but there is nothing but wishful thinking and unscientific observation to back them up. In the absence of hard science, and without asking a cat directly (so far they aren’t saying much), there is no way to know what a cat is thinking when he’s doing what he’s doing.

One theory that has merit is that some cats may lick to consume what tastes good on your skin. The validity of this theory is up to every individual cat owner. Does your cat start licking the moment you come out of the shower and apply a particular brand of lotion? If so, it’s possible your cat likes the taste of your lotion. (It’s probably best that she doesn’t eat it, however.)

Does your cat lick you after a particularly sweaty workout? It’s possible, as some other websites suggest, that your cat loves the salty taste of your skin. Be a scientific observer of your own cats for an answer.

Why does my cat’s tongue feel like sandpaper?

cat licking paw

A cat’s tongue is covered in little hooks called papillae. The papillae are made from keratin, just like our fingernails.[3] The papillae are actually shaped like little cat claws and have very sharp tips that are surprisingly effective in untangling a cat’s fur.

close up of a cat tongue

Mechanical Engineer Alexis Noel was so fascinated by the structure of cats’ tongues that she created a model to mimic these little spines using a 3D printer and the scanned image of a cat’s tongue. She tested the model out using a machine that dragged it across a patch of faux fur. What she discovered was that the cat-tongue design was surprisingly easy to clean compared to a traditional human hair brush. Unlike a traditional brush which got clogged with hair that could only be removed by painstakingly plucking the caught hairs out from between the bristles, she only had to sweep her finger across the “cat-tongue” brush to thoroughly remove the caught fur.[4]

 Watch Dr. Noel remove cat hair from her "cat-tongue" brush here

Is it safe to let my cat lick my face?

 

Probably not. Are some of us going to do it anyway? Probably. But regardless of your current stance on face-licking, at least get educated so you can decide whether the risk outweighs the reward.

A cat’s mouth can harbor bacteria that may not be harmful to them but could be a problem for very young, elderly or immunocompromised people.[5] Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Pasteurella multocida, are two organisms found in a cat’s mouth that can be dangerous for people in these populations. It is less likely, but still possible, that a person with a healthy immune system will become infected.

Does your cat eat a raw diet? If so, face-licking could expose you to more bacterial dangers that every person, regardless of their age or immune status, should be worried about. A two-year study conducted by the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine analyzed a variety of pet foods from different manufacturers, including raw foods, for harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Of 196 raw pet food samples, 15 were positive for Salmonella and 32 were positive for Listeria monocytogenes. By contrast, of 740 dry, semi-moist, and jerky-type dog and cat food and treats tested, exactly one was positive for Salmonella only.[6]

The FDA offered suggestions for handling and storing raw pet food to minimize the risk of infection and also recommended that pet owners do not let their pet lick their faces, especially after the pet has just finished eating.

Now you can decide for yourself.

How to get my cat to stop licking me

cat licking a hand

Once you understand that your cat is licking you in the only way his little cat self knows how to reciprocate your petting, you might be inclined to tolerate a bit of licking.

But what if the licking goes too far?

Cat licking that seems obsessive might very well be. Some cats lick themselves bald (a topic for another blog post) and some cats seem to want to lick YOU bald.

Cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett explained that excessive licking can be a sign of stress and up to us responsible cat owners to identify the stressor and try to remove it from your cat’s environment. Remember that an indoor cat is helpless to remove herself from something in her world that is bothering her.

gray tabby cat licking a paw

Do you have a multicat household? Examine the relationships between co-habitating cats to see if there is friction you can reduce by providing more resources (toys, beds, litter boxes, water and food dishes), and more space (especially vertical space).[7]

Perhaps your young, exuberant cat is stressed because he has no outlet for his abounding energy. You might need to set aside more time to play with him, especially vigorous play.

Or maybe your cat is bored. Consider providing puzzle toys to exercise his mind, or moving a perch nearer the window so that your cat sit and can watch the world go by.

Simultaneously, observe and try to learn the behaviors that precede the excessive licking. Does your cat settle into a particular position before the licking starts? If so, try to head the obsessive behavior off at the pass in the gentlest way possible. Distract your cat with a favorite toy, or place a soft object between you and your cat to make it more difficult for her to revert to her old ways.

What are some things you shouldn’t do to stop the licking? If you want the licking to stop, don’t put something unpleasant tasting on your skin so that your cat gets an unhappy surprise. It’s true this tactic might get your cat to stop licking you, but it may have an unfortunate side effect, too. Your cat may begin to associate you, and not just your skin, with unpleasantness.[8]

Never, ever, ever hit, shove, or yell at your cat for licking you too much (or for any other reason). Abusive behavior doesn’t prevent licking and can permanently damage the bond you’ve worked so hard to build with your beloved cat.

Love Pinterest? Here's a Pinterst-friendly pin for your boards?

Why does my cat lick me?

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FOOTNOTES

[1] Todd, Zazie. Where Do Cats Like To Be Stroked?, Blogger, 27 July 2020, www.companionanimalpsychology.com/2015/03/where-do-cats-like-to-be-stroked.html.

[2] Terry, Sarah Jeanne. “Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Her?: Cuteness.” Cuteness.com, 31 Oct. 2019, www.cuteness.com/13721775/why-does-my-cat-lick-me-when-i-pet-her.

[3] Cassidy, Joshua. “Ever Wondered Why Your Cat's Tongue Feels like Sandpaper?” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 1 Mar. 2017, www.pbs.org/newshour/science/kqed-deep-look-cats-tongue-sandpaper.

[4] Noel, Alexis C., and David L. Hu. “Cats Use Hollow Papillae to Wick Saliva into Fur.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 4 Dec. 2018, www.pnas.org/content/115/49/12377.

[5] Solomon, Donna. “Safely Living With Pets: Don't Let Your Pet Lick Your Face and Other Helpful Tips.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 4 Jan. 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/safely-living-with-pets-d_b_6069134.

[6] Medicine, Center for Veterinary. “Raw Pet Food Diets Can Be Dangerous to You and Your Pet.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-raw-pet-food-diets-can-be-dangerous-you-and-your-pet.

[7] Johnson-Bennett, Pam. “Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much? - Part 2.” Pam Johnson-Bennett Answers the Why, When & How of Cat Behavior Issues, 9 Sept. 2020, catbehaviorassociates.com/why-does-my-cat-lick-me-so-much/2/.

[8] “Why Does My Cat Lick Me?” PetMD, 16 Feb. 2016, www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why-does-my-cat-lick-me.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me?

12-08-2020 · Your cat may lick and bite you as a way to bond by grooming you, to show affection, or as an invitation for playtime. She may also be licking and biting you to show that she’s had enough of your…

12-08-2020
Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me

Your cat may lick and bite you as a way to bond by grooming you, to show affection, or as an invitation for playtime. She may also be licking and  biting you to show that she’s had enough of your attention and it is her way of telling you to stop petting her. 

Why does my cat lick me then bite me?

Here are five common ones why your cat licks and then bites:

1. Your cat wants to bond with you by grooming you. 

Cats normally lick their fur when grooming themselves. They usually do the grooming process by biting their fur to remove tangles and then lick it afterward to finish it off. Similarly, they may also lick their fur first and do some nips or little bites on particular parts of their body. 

This particular cat behavior extends to their favored humans. Your cat may lick your at your hair or elsewhere and then bite you or vice versa because, like her siblings, she is grooming you as a way of strengthening your bond and relationship.  

2. Your cat is showing you affection. 

This is a way for a cat to show her affection for you.  It means your cat is comfortable, relaxed, and contented in your presence. Along with her intention to groom you, her behavior signifies that she is happy and feels a deep connection with you. 

3. Your cat may be telling you that she wants to play with you.

As complex and mysterious as they are, cats have amusing ways to communicate with their owners. Your cat may invite and initiate playtime by licking and then biting you. How do you know she is in a playful mood? Look for cues like ears and whiskers that point forward, with the tail up, and the pupils somewhat dilated. Your cat may also walk with an arched back, act like it is stalking a prey, and may crouch with her rear end slightly raised.

By licking and biting you gently, your cat is telling you that you are her best friend and she is in the mood for playtime. 

4. Your cat may be telling you to stop giving her physical attention. 

Cats love playtime with their humans and it is a great way to bond. However, cats also have mood swings and if you become overly-aggressive in playing and petting her she may feel agitated. Overstimulation happens when a cat’s sensitive body part is touched accidentally or repeatedly. Your cat may lick and then give you a gentle bite to signify that she wants to take a break and for you to stop giving her physical attention. 

These are some of the signs that your cat is overstimulated:

  • your cat may ripple her tail 
  • her ears are flicking back and forth 
  • her ears will flatten against her head 

5. Your cat may be stressed. 

Some cats are prone to stress and even aggression. This is manifested through signs like biting and excessive licking. Your cat may be licking then biting you because she may be stressed and anxious.  Other cat breeds like the Siamese may tend to chew things more than others and this may extend to your hands.  If you suspect that your cat’s peculiar behavior is due to stress, consult your vet for the proper treatment. Also CBD oil such as Chill Paws helps to lessen stress and behavioral issues with cats.

Why does it hurt when my cat licks me?

You may feel uncomfortable each time your cat licks you especially if she is excessively licking a particular part of your hand or face.  This is because of the back-facing barbs or spines in her tongue called papillae. It is scoop-shaped and hollow which allows it to store and hold saliva. 

The discomfort you feel may be due to the sandpaper-like sensation when your cat’s tongue brushes against your skin. The barbs help remove dirt from a cat’s coat that is why it has to be sharp so that cats may be able to keep themselves clean. 

Conclusion 

Cats communicate with their owners through various body language and behaviors and one way of doing so is by licking and biting you. Your cat may lick and bite you as an invitation for playtime and to show affection. It may also mean that she is overstimulated and wants to take a break. However, it may also signify that she is stressed and you should bring her to the vet at once for prompt treatment.  

Image: istockphoto.com / luliia Alekseeva

Why Does My Cat Lick My Face? What Does It Mean?

14-01-2020 · Now, there are quite a lot of cats in my life who lick and essentially “groom” me. There’s my second cat Bjorn, who will do this on occasion while I’m petting or grooming him, as well as a couple of…

14-01-2020

Now, there are quite a lot of cats in my life who lick and essentially “groom” me. There’s my second cat Bjorn, who will do this on occasion while I’m petting or grooming him, as well as a couple of cats who frequent our garden who will also do the same.

These cats will typically only lick my hand or maybe my leg if they’re sitting next to my lap – basically what’s that’s near them while I pet them.

I don’t particularly encourage the licking, but I know if I did, they’d do a heck of a lot more of it.

persian-cat-snuggling-with-girl-selfie

When it comes to licking body parts besides my hands, it’s really infrequent to begin with, but I can imagine they’d take to licking my face if they happened to be sitting or sleeping near my face while I snuggled up with them.

It’s funny because I have another cat, Avery – my first furchild – who scents my glasses and sometimes also scents my nose.

He does this pretty religiously, but I would never expect he’d take to licking my face.

The why comes down to the fact that he’s not the type of cat who licks humans at all, and I feel like this quirky cat behaviour of licking human faces is one cats who lick and groom their humans in general would be much more likely to do than cats who aren’t prone to licking their owners.

There are so many behaviours I feel are related in part to this one.

There are cats who bite then lick or lick then bite, as well as cats who nibble on their humans.

Some cats give affectionate love bites in general, while others bite specific body parts, like feet or even fingers.

Loads of these seem to overlap based on my experience, and I suspect you’re likely to find at least two or three other behaviours that go along with your cat licking your face that seem co-related.

Maybe it’s that some cats really like to groom other cats and other people besides themselves while others don’t?

Not quite sure, but if you have a cat who licks your face, I’d love to know if he or she does anything else, like licking fingers or biting feet, so maybe we can figure out if there’s a pattern.

Either way, there are a slew of theories out there on why cats lick faces, and while the majority have something to do with the idea that they’re probably grooming you, there are a lot of angles this could be coming from.

There are no scientific studies out there that investigate anything related to cats licking human faces, to my knowledge, but that’s okay!

It just means we’ll have to theorize on our own, and if one day there is an answer, maybe it will be from one of the hypotheses we’ve postulated with our experiences living with our pets. Would be pretty cool!

Without further ado, a slew of reasons that might explain why cats lick faces, and what this quirky cat behaviour might actually mean.

12 Theories That Could Explain Why Cats Lick Human Faces

1. When your cat licks your face, it’s likely a form of socializing & showing affection, like when we pet cats.

If you have a cat who licks your face, the fact that he or she is likely doing it as a form of socialization and affection most likely crossed your mind first as the likely explanation behind why.

I absolutely think there’s an enormous case to be made for this explanation. Many cats do like to be pet and cuddled, and it would make sense if they reciprocated this type of positive physical attention with equivalents of their own.

2. Your cat is likely grooming your face – cleaning you as though you were a feline family member.

Mother cats groom their kittens, and kittens groom their mothers back. Felines who make up a clowder (a group of cats) tend to groom each other, though not always.

It would make sense to me if a cat licks your face in part because it thinks of you as it thinks of the other close-knit felines in the clowder he or she is a part of.

Although it really would be interesting to find out if a cat who grooms other cats is more likely to lick the humans in the household on their faces. What do you think? Is there a co-relation in your household?

3. Your cat may lick your face because it’s the closest body part of yours to groom when cuddling.

I have noticed that my cat Bjorn will really only lick my leg or a body part besides my hand if it’s right next to him as he’s grooming and cuddling with me. If my arm is near him, he’ll lick that, whatever’s closest.

I do think that in some cases, the only reason a cat licks your face might be because he or she was closest to your face when he or she went to groom you.

Like if your cat sleeps next to you, right by your head, and wakes you up in the morning licking your face, that may in part be because he or she was closest to your cheek when he or she decided to groom you.

Trixie Minou Cuddly Cave Self-Warming Cat Bed – Amazon / Chewy

4. Your cat licking you so close to your mouth likely means he or she trusts you considerably.

I definitely think cats realize we can eat them with our mouths.

Go up to a cat who’s not used to it and pretend to “eat” his or her head by making “om nom” noises and eating sounds – he or she’s likely to squirm, scream out of fear, or run out of dodge completely.

If you do this over and over, a cat will realize you’re only playing, but the reason it’s so terrifying is likely because cats know what being eaten sounds like, and obviously, they don’t want to be eaten themselves.

If your cat is licking you or cuddling in any way next to your mouth, it’s likely a sign that he or she is comfortable enough around you to get close to your mouth in the first place.

There’s no way a cat would be happy to do this to a person he or she doesn’t trust.

5. Your cat may lick your face to try to get your attention.

To be honest, I think a lot of times quirky cat behaviours can be explained away in large part by the fact that cats want attention, and they sometimes do cute and weird things to get it.

If you have a cat who licks your face when you’re not paying much attention to him or her, say when you’re distracted lying on the couch watching TV, or have been sleeping in bed peacefully for a few hours, chances are pretty high your cat’s licking your face to get your attention.

Cuddle your cat straight after? Talk to him or her?

Wake up and start the day with a different interaction with your cat (heck, even yelling qualifies as attention, though not the positive kind)?

You’re likely playing right into a cat’s successful trick of getting the attention he or she wants.

6. Cats who lick faces may also be trying to get their humans to do something in particular – like feed them.

If the first thing you do in the morning is feed your cat, and your kitty wakes you up with “kisses” on your face, there’s no question in my mind that your cat is almost certainly licking you on your face because you’ll wake up and refill the bowl of cat food.

And who could blame them? I’m sure if I was a cat, I’d use this trick myself.

persian-cat-sleeping-on-back-cute

7. Cats who lick humans may do so because they enjoy the act of licking.

A lot of cats seem to enjoy the act of licking, and it seems to me that those particular cats are the type most likely to lick human faces.

As I said in the intro, while I’ve never had a cat lick my face before, I’m sure all the cats in my life who like to lick are most likely to do this.

Even though I have a cat who scents my glasses, nose, chin, and face regularly, I doubt he will ever lick my face, because he’s not the type to lick my hands while I’m petting him or anything along those lines.

The cats who like licking my hands even when there’s no food on them? I’m pretty sure would take to licking my face in the right circumstances.

Let me know what you think of this theory, and if you feel it lines up with your particular cats’ behaviours.

8. Cats who lick their humans may also be doing so because they like the taste and texture of skin.

Cats enjoy a lot of peculiar tastes and textures. A lot of cats like the taste and texture of thin plastic, like the type garbage bags are made of.

My cats fit into this category, both liking to lick plastic and chew plastic at times.

Bjorn once took to licking bars of soap, however, a habit that reminds everyone who’s heard of Jenna Marbles of her dog Kermit’s obsession with soap.

It feels like quite an odd thing to like the texture and taste of, but cats do like animal fat, so on another level it makes sense.

There might be something about the taste and texture of skin that attracts cats who like licking it.

9. Your cat might enjoy the taste of the soaps, lotions, or other facial products you use.

There are plenty of things you’re likely using on your face – from soaps to lotions and other facial products – that might be attracting kitty to your face in the same way Bjorn was attracted to the hand soap we were using in the bathrooms.

Plenty of times the way lip gloss and chap sticks taste and smell make even us as humans want to eat them – make up and other beauty products smell & taste quite nice at times!

As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn this is sometimes a factor in why cats lick our faces.

PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Cat & Dog Feeder – Amazon / Chewy

10. Your cat may lick your face to mark you as his or her territory.

When cats lick objects, they leave a scent that let’s other cats know they’ve been there.

Scenting frequently used amongst cats to mark an object as their territory, so it may be that part of the reason your cat licks your face is to “claim” you as his or her own!

This may be a little odd, but I think it’s also pretty cute that your cats might want to show other cats that you’re theirs; that you belong to them.

11. Cats may lick human faces may be showing dominance over these humans.

When cats allogroom – or groom one another when they stick together in a sort of pack – the dominant cats are typically the ones who start the grooming sessions, and so there’s definitely a dominance element to the act.

A subservient cat will sometimes groom back, but will really infrequently start off the grooming or participate in it as much as a dominant cat.

So who knows – maybe your cat’s showing dominance over you when he or she grooms your face as well!

12. Kittens groom their mothers, licking them on their faces; doing this to you could be a behaviour from kitten-hood.

There are quite a lot of kitty behaviours that seem to be leftovers from kitten-hood, like kneading, for instance, which kittens do to get milk out of their mothers as they suckle.

Kittens also grow up grooming and licking their mothers clean, including on their faces, so maybe doing this to you is a behaviour your cat never grew out of, even well into adulthood.

They could also be grooming you as though you were a surrogate mother; you never know!

cat-lying-on-back-cute-adorable-persian

Your Thoughts on Cats Licking Human Faces?

Why do you think cats sometimes lick their humans on their faces?

Do you have a cat or multiple cats who do this? How often do your cats lick your face?

Do these cats have similar behaviours that seem connected (like licking hands, for instance)?

Do your cats lick your face at a particular time of day (like in the morning while you’re still asleep) or during something else (like while you’re snuggling on the couch?).

Would love to hear any and all thoughts you have on the topic in the comments down below!