Cat Licking - Why Does My Cat Lick Me?- VyWhy

Last updated on 2021-12-18 13:31:05

2022-09-26

Have you ever wondered why your cat licks you? We explore why cat licking happens, why it can sometimes hurt and when to discourage it. Learn more.

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!

Purina One

We believe people and pets are 'Better Together'. Our programme promises to support you through every stage of your journey.

Better together logo with dog and cat
Advice and articles tailored to your pet's needs.
Free access to our in-house team of vets, behaviourists and advisors.
Tortoiseshell Cats - 5 Facts You Need To Know

Most tortoiseshell cats are female Almost all tortoiseshell cats are females. This is because females have two X chromosomes, and it’s this chromosome that carries the genetic information for black or orange coat colour. So, female tortoiseshell kittens inherit a gene for black fur from one parent and orange fur from the other parent.

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Cat Types
  5. Cat Breeds By Fur Type

Although torties and their instantly recognisable multicoloured fur are in a class of their own, there is no such thing as a tortoiseshell cat breed. A Maine Coon kitty might turn out to be a tortie, a Persian’s fur might be born with the tortoiseshell look, and Cornish Rex cats have been known to put tortoiseshell-coloured coats on display too.

Get to know a feisty tortoiseshell cat well enough and you’ll discover what ‘tortitude’ is all about. Although this is yet to be conclusively proven by studies, many cat owners are already convinced that their feline’s tortoiseshell fur colour is somehow linked to all the mischief their pets get up to.

Felix
PRO PLAN
Beyond
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
15 Amazing Black Cat Names You Will Absolutely Love

The black cat name from Sabrina the Teenage Witch will give connoisseurs a clue for your cat's independent personality. In the show, Salem was a warlock sentenced to spend 100 years as a black cat for trying to take over the world. Even if your friends don't know the ins and outs of dark coming-of-age stories, they'll surely appreciate a good ...

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Getting A New Cat
  5. Cat Names

Inspired by Sylvester J. Pussycat Senior, the animated cat from the Looney Tunes cartoons who can't stop going after Tweety Bird even if he gets defeated every time, you're definitely going to take your friends down the memory lane with such a beloved name.

If you are looking for a truly magical name, Hex is as cool as it gets. Hex means "to spellbind" and if your kitten manages to capture the hearts and minds of everyone they meet with their sheer cuteness, this is the black cat name to settle on.

Felix
PRO PLAN
Beyond
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
6 Hairless Cat Breeds That Love to Cuddle

6 hairless cat breeds 1. Sphynx. One of the most popular hairless cat breeds, the Sphynx is bald due to a recessive genetic mutation. 2. Bambino. The Bambino is relatively new hairless cat breed and only came about in 2005 as the result of crossing a... 3. …

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Cat Types
  5. Cat Breeds By Fur Type

Many believe that because a cat has no hair, it’s automatically hypoallergenic, but that’s not true.

Now you know how to care for them, check out the list of our favourite hairless cat breeds below!

Felix
PRO PLAN
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
Beyond
8 of the Biggest Domestic Cat Breeds in the World

They created two separate breeds, which is why the Ragamuffin comes in so many different colours. 8. Chausie. Similar to how the Savannah cat came to be, the Chausie is a big cat breed that was the result of crossing a wild jungle cat and a domestic cat. These large, attractive cats can weigh up to 25 pounds and possess long legs and an agile body.

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Cat Types
  5. Cat Breed Guides

These gentle giants were originally kept as farm cats as they're excellent at hunting, however because of their striking good looks and smart, playful natures they're now found in homes across the globe.

Fun fact: Maine Coons don't meow like normal cats, they yowl!

These cute large cat breeds are quite particular with the company they keep and tend to attach themselves onto one person. Due to this they're not usually suited to larger families as they may get jealous!

Felix
PRO PLAN
Beyond
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
Ginger Cats: The Truth Behind the Colour

These ginger cats are known to be super smart so they'll need plenty of entertaining. 7. Bengal. The Bengal is a domestic cat which looks like a miniature version of its wild relatives - especially when they're sporting a red coat! While the proper name for the colour is brown, it appears more like a fiery orange.

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Cat Types
  5. Cat Breeds By Fur Type

Yes, they are! Even if they don't appear to be at first glance, on closer inspection you'll notice spots, whirls or stripes on their coat. You may find ginger cats in the following tabby patterns:

The Bengal is a domestic cat which looks like a miniature version of its wild relatives - especially when they're sporting a red coat! While the proper name for the colour is brown, it appears more like a fiery orange.

Felix
PRO PLAN
Beyond
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
The Heat Cycle in Cats Explained

Signs of a heat cycle in cats. Your cat will display behavioural rather than physical signs when they’re in heat. Here’s what to look out for: • Excessive vocalisation – many cats will ‘howl’ in order to call out to possible mating partners. • They’ll be …

  1. Home
  2. Pet Care Articles and Advice
  3. Expert Cat Care
  4. Cat Health
  5. Cat Pregnancy

In a sense, yes, cats do have menstrual periods. In felines it’s called ‘oestrus’, but many people just refer to it as being ‘in heat’.

Your cat will display behavioural rather than physical signs when they’re in heat. Here’s what to look out for:

Felix
PRO PLAN
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
7 Gorgeous Black and White Cat Breeds

Black and white cat breeds 1. British Shorthair The British Shorthair is an incredibly popular cat in England and where they're most commonly blue, but …

  1. Home
  2. Find a pet
  3. Find a New Pet
  4. Cat Types
  5. Cat Breeds By Fur Type

These large kitties are available in over 30 colour variations - including black and white - and are actually one of the largest domestic cat breeds. They're heavily boned and long bodied with big fluffy coats which only adds to their large size.

Perhaps the most royal of all cat breeds, the Persian comes in a variety of colours and can even be a black and white cat. First brought to Europe in 1626 and favoured by Queen Victoria in the 19th century.

Felix
PRO PLAN
Beyond
Dentalife
Go-Cat
Purina One
PRO PLAN Vet Diets
Gourmet
Related posts