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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 Always Lick Me?

04-03-2015 · Cat hair is awful to get off your own tongue. 4. Stress. Stress has an impact on cats just as much as it does on people. When your cat was a kitten, their mother would lick them constantly to keep them clean and to show affection. This is soothing to cats, and when your cat is experiencing a lot of stress, they may lick more than usual.

04-03-2015
By: murika
Licking you probably means your cat simply likes and trusts you. Photo: murika

Cats exhibit behaviors that often seem strange to us.

We get why dogs lick us — that’s what they do to show affection and give kisses. Cats, however, are thought to be considerably less exuberant in their expressions of love.

So, why would your cat lick you? Here are 4 possible explanations.

1. Personality Quirk

Like people, cats have a wide range of personalities.

  • Some like to sit on laps and be close to their humans as much as possible to show their affection.
  • Some prefer to make utter pests of themselves by pouncing on your feet as you walk by, or tromping on your keyboard while you’re working.
  • Others show affection by bringing you dead rodents and then being offended when you’re horrified. (“It was a gift!”)

Licking, then, is often simply “a way of showing trust and care,” according to Dr. Patty Khuly, DVM. Your cat is grooming you.

Just be sure your cat is not allowed to lick you in the face. “Pets can harbor many bacterial organisms in their mouth,” says Dr. Donna Solomon, DVM.

2. Pain Management

Many animals will lick themselves when they are in pain. If you have a cat like mine, who begrudgingly bestows the occasional meager lick that suddenly becomes licking to excess, you may want to take a closer look.

  • Make sure there are no irritations on your cat’s skin, or that they are not visibly injured in some way.
  • Check the paws and claws — if cats’ claws aren’t taken care of, they can grow into their paw pads. It’s painful, and you’d certainly see a lot of licking as they try to soothe themselves.

When in doubt, call your veterinarian. Often behavior changes are the first sign of something wrong, and many illnesses and injuries are best treated in the early stages.

Cats lick each other for grooming and friendship. By:
Cats lick one another for grooming and friendship. Photo: Blackangel

3. Missing Mom or Bonding Rituals

Kittens weaned from their mother too young or who are orphaned may display excessive licking and/or suckling into adulthood.

Kittens should stay with their mother until they are at least 6 weeks old. It’s even better if they can stay for 7–12 weeks.

Technically, licking and suckling are classified as infantile behavior, and kittens taken from their mother too young may cling to this behavior even when they get older.

Often, cats who live together (and get along) can be seen licking one another. They’re grooming each other and basically just saying, “Hey, I like you.” It’s no surprise that your cat will display this behavior with you — your cat wants to bond.

I don’t recommend licking them back, though. Cat hair is awful to get off your own tongue.

4. Stress

Stress has an impact on cats just as much as it does on people.

When your cat was a kitten, their mother would lick them constantly to keep them clean and to show affection. This is soothing to cats, and when your cat is experiencing a lot of stress, they may lick more than usual.

If you see a lot of licking going on, try to think about whether there have been any stressful situations lately. Examples include:

If you think your cat is experiencing high levels of stress, do your best to combat it. Most stressors will resolve in time. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • A stressful move to a new home will resolve as your cat becomes more familiar with the surroundings.
  • If you have a bunch of people over, use this as your excuse to kick them all out!

How to Stop a Cat From Licking You

If you have a cat who just plain likes to lick, you might consider yourself lucky. (Licky?) They are showing you affection and trying to bond with you the best way they know how.

If you find it unpleasant, gently discourage them but don’t punish them. A little spritz with a water bottle or moving them away from you when they lick will show that you don’t appreciate it, but won’t cause your cat any pain.

You don’t have to cringe and put up with it as the guy in this video does:

According to the ASPCA, “Another option is to provide your cat with an acceptable object to chew or suckle instead of you.”

If the excessive licking you’re seeing is an abrupt behavior change, consider calling the vet. At best, your vet will tell you your cat is fine, but you might just catch a serious health problem at the best time — in the early stages.

People also ask
  • Why does my cat Lick then bite me?

    Your cat may lick your hair or something else and then bite you, or vice versa, because the cat grooms you to strengthen your bond and relationship. When it plays respectfully without biting the cat, or just licking and purring, reward their behavior by telling them that it is a “good kitty,” and then keep giving a bite of their favorite treat.

    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

    my-cat-lick-my-fingers-then-bite-them

    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 Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me? Johnny Holland
  • Why does my cat like licking my armpits?

    Why is my cat obsessed with my armpit?Your cat likes the smell One of the most common explanations here is that cat likes the smell of your underarms. ...Your cat likes the warmth Another common reason as to why your cat loves your armpit is its warmth. ...Your cat misses you Nuzzling on your armpit might be your cat’s way of saying ‘I miss you’. ... More items...

    So you’re relaxing on your bed when suddenly your cat squeezes to reach your armpits. Why does my cat nuzzle my armpit, you ask? Aside from the fact that many cats like snuggling, your armpits are very attractive parts. First of all, it’s warm, which your cat finds comforting. The smell of your underarm might also be the thing that attracts your cat.

    In this post, I will discuss the possible reasons why your cat loves nuzzling on your armpit. All of them are harmless and are actually cute!

    Why is my cat obsessed with my armpit?

    If you’re wondering why your cat nuzzles your armpit, the following might explain the behavior.

    1. Your cat likes the smell

    One of the most common explanations here is that cat likes the smell of your underarms. Since felines have a heightened sense of smell, they can easily pick up the odor of your armpits.

    Our armpits have the so-called apocrine sweat glands. This releases a smelly sweat since it’s full of proteins and fats. If we are going to compare it to cats, our armpits serve as our scent glands. It releases a unique smell that our cats recognize. learn here what smell do cat hates the most

    Sometimes, cats think that the smell of their owners’ armpits is tasty. It could be due to the product you’re using or your natural body odor.

    However, some kitties will nuzzle your armpit when it wants to tell you that you stink. You might be due for a shower or a change of clothes.

    2. Your cat likes the warmth

    Another common reason as to why your cat loves your armpit is its warmth. Squeezing on your underarms give the kitty a sense of comfort because your body emits continuous heat. This is much true during the winter season when your pet can make use of added warmth.

    But why do cats tend to crave warmth all the time? Felines came from the deserts so it’s a hardwired trait for them to seek the warm feeling they were accustomed to. This is also true even for domesticated cats.

    Also, cats often have trouble keeping their body temperature balanced, especially kittens. So by staying close to their pawrent, they will feel toasty.

    3. Your cat misses you

    Nuzzling on your armpit might be your cat’s way of saying ‘I miss you’. Some cats are very clingy and they will be sad when you left them home for long. So once you arrive, they will rub their bodies on you and snuggle on your armpit.

    If you have a kitten, your armpit might be reminding it of its fur momma. Don’t be surprised if the kitty will start to suckle, make biscuits, and nip on your underarms. Please read here why is kitten so mean

    However, if you have an old cat, suckling on your underarms might just be about the taste. Human taste is salty so it’s very appealing to felines.

    4. Your cat is scared

    Another possible reason here is that your cat is scared. By squeezing into your armpits, your cat feels safe since it’s cradled on your body. It can be due to a loud sound, the presence of another animal, or a stranger. Each cat is different and so are its fears.

    Keeping the kitty relaxed is important to prevent this scenario. If your cat is afraid of loud sounds, you should take it to an enclosed room with its favorite toys. You can also try spraying some cat pheromone to calm it down. please read here how to calm a kitten

    5. Your cat wants to remember your scent

    Lastly, your cat may be committing your scent to memory. It wants to remember you so the kitty can easily recognize your presence next time. Since our armpits produce a strong scent, kitties use this to remember people individually.

    Take note that cats don’t just have a strong sense of smell. They also have a sharp smell memory, which allows them to recognize every person even if they changed looks or not easily visible.

    Aside from that, your cat is also leaving its scent to you. Felines have scent glands on their faces, so rubbing it onto your armpit allows them to ‘ID’ you with their unique scent. In short, your pet is taking ownership of you as its human.

    What does it mean a cat rubs its head on you?

    Headbutting or bunting is a widely observed behavior among cats. They do this to leave their scent to the person as a way of taking ownership. Also, a cat that does this trusts and likes you. It’s their way of showing their affiliation to you and recognizing you as a member of their family.

    On the other hand, cats love rubbing their heads to their owners to get attention. The cat probably wants something like food, affection, and playtime. learn here why does my cat shake his head

    Why does my cat sniff and lick my armpit?

    This means that your cat finds the smell of your underarm delicious. You might be using a product with a smell that appeals to your pet. Also, the taste of sweat is attractive to cats since it’s salty. Do cat like salt?

    If you want to stop your cat from licking your armpits, you can use a citrus-scented product. Many cats hate the citrusy scent and they often stay away from it.

    Why does my cat leave its mouth open after sniffing my armpits?

    Did your cat ever sniff your armpit and flash a shocked, open-mouthed expression? Before you get offended, you should know that this is something to do with your pet’s sense of smell.

    Cats experience the so-called Flehmen response triggered by their vomeronasal organ, also known as the Jacobson’s organ. Your cat opens its mouth after sniffing to flick their tongues and funnel the scent into this organ.

    Aside from that, cats use their nasopalatine canals as a pump for the Jacobson’s organ. By opening their mouth, cats will have better access to the scent so they can process it further. In short, your cat is performing extreme sniffing on your armpits.

    So why do cats do this? The Flehmen response allows cats to distinguish each smell from the other. So even if two scents seem to be alike, cats can easily identify one from the other. Take note that the Flehmen response is an involuntary movement.

    Conclusion

    Why does my cat nuzzle my armpit? Your kitty probably likes the smell and warmth of your underarms. Also, the cat might be missing you, scared, or marking you with their scent. Overall, this is a harmless behavior unless your cat is nibbling on your armpit or being too demanding. When that happens, training and setting the boundaries will solve the problem. You shouldn’t shy away from the help of professionals.

    Why Does My Cat Lick My Armpits? Isn’t That Strange?
  • What does it mean when a cat licks you?

    Redirect their attention to something elseGive them nice petting time and show your affection to themStart a game with them playing with a toyMove their cat tree into a patch of sunlight or near a window so they can be occupied

    Cats are lovable creatures, but can be a little standoffish. The cat may lick you as an indication that it trusts you and is showing affection. Cats will sometimes lick themselves or other cats to clean themselves or communicate with each other. If your cat has been licking himself for a long time, he could have an allergy or infection which should be treated by a veterinarian.

    Should I let my cat lick me?

    A question I’ve been asked many times is whether it’s safe for cats to lick people. Many cat owners allow their cats to lick them, but what are the risks? Is there a chance that licking could transmit bacteria or parasites from the cat’s mouth into human skin and cause illness?

    The answer might surprise you! Some studies suggest that not only is it safe to let your cat lick you, but doing so may actually help protect against heart disease. As long as you make sure to wash your hands after petting your kitty (or any other animal), there shouldn’t be any need for alarm when they’re around.

    Why do cats headbutt?

    Cats headbutt each other and people to show they’re in charge. It’s a form of dominance that can also signal that they want something from you, like food or attention. If your cat is headbutting you then it’s because he wants to be fed or petted.

    Cats will usually give their owners plenty of warning before resorting to this behavior so if your cat isn’t vocalizing his needs, the best thing for him is probably some space!

    Why do cats hate water?

    Why do cats hate water

    No one really knows why cats hate water. Some say it’s because they’re naturally scared of anything that moves, while others believe the reason is a little more sinister. The real answer may be a combination of both! In this blog post we’ll explore the reasons behind feline aversion to water and whether or not there are any ways you can help your cat get over their fear.

    1. Cats can’t see their own reflection in water, which makes them uncomfortable

    Cats are a popular choice for pets. They’re cuddly, playful and cute. However, there is one thing cats can’t do- see themselves in water! Cats cannot see their own reflection in the water which makes them feel uneasy about getting wet. So why not get your cat a kitty pool? It will provide hours of fun and entertainment for your pet while they stay cool this summer!

    2. Many cats are afraid of the sound and feel of running water

    The sound of running water can be a scary and unfamiliar noise for many cats. It may seem like a simple task to turn on the faucet, but it could trigger fear in your cat. For this reason, it is best to have someone else do this for you or use an alternate method such as using a squirt bottle or wet washcloth instead.

    3. Cats don’t like feeling wet or dirty

    Cats are known for their elegance and dignity. They like to be clean at all times, but sometimes they find themselves in an unfortunate situation where they need a bath. There’s nothing worse for your cat than feeling wet or dirty! This blog post will show you how to give your pet the best bath ever so it can get back to its normal routine of sleeping on top of things and looking adorable.

    Should you ever bathe a cat?

    Should you ever bathe a cat

    Cats are notoriously clean animals. However, there are some instances in which they may need to be bathed. Cats who have an upset stomach or diarrhea will often soil themselves and require a bath to help clean them up.

    In addition, cats with fleas or other parasites can benefit from a bathing because the soap helps dislodge these pests from their fur. If your cat is suffering from any of these conditions, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian before giving them a bath!

    What’s the average lifespan of a house cat?

    Cats, like humans, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. So it’s hard to set an average lifespan for all cats. Some may live as long as 15 years while others might only make it to 10 years old. The oldest cat on record was 36-years-old!

    It’s important for pet owners to understand the different factors that go into determining how much time they will spend with their furry friend before deciding what type of care (e.g., food, toys) they should buy them.

    I am Wanda J. Gonzalez, and I love to write pet blog articles and care for pets. I have been in this business since 2015, and my favorite part is writing about the different breeds of dogs or cats or other animals that people might adopt from a shelter.

    What does it mean if a cat licks you
  • Why does my kitten keep licking me?

    Why Does Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me 1. You have an overstimulated cat 2. Your cat is showing affection 3. To ask you to play with them 4. ...How Can You Stop Your Cat From Biting YouFrequently Asked Questions 1. What causes cats to bite? 2. Why does a cat lick? 3. When my cat licks me, why does it hurt? 4. ...Final thoughts

    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

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    Cat Licking - Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
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. 

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.

Cat Overgrooming: Why Is My Cat Licking Itself So Much ...

If your cat is licking too much, they can lose fur in strips along their back, belly, or inner legs. The affected areas may be completely bare or have very short stubble. Your cat may also have an unusually high number of hairballs. Here are some common reasons for excessive licking in cats and what you can do to help. Why Do Cats Overgroom?

It’s normal for cats to groom on a regular basis. After all, cat self-grooming is an important behavior that helps cats remove loose hair, dirt, and parasites from their coat.

Cats typically spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming, but excessive amounts of licking, biting, chewing, or scratching may mean that your cat’s self-grooming habits have become problematic.

If your cat is licking too much, they can lose fur in strips along their back, belly, or inner legs. The affected areas may be completely bare or have very short stubble. Your cat may also have an unusually high number of hairballs.

Here are some common reasons for excessive licking in cats and what you can do to help.

Why Do Cats Overgroom?

To help manage your cat’s overgrooming habits, you need to understand what’s causing the excessive licking in the first place. Your veterinarian can address the underlying issues.

Here are the most common health conditions that can lead to excessive cat self-grooming.

Allergy or Infection

Irritated skin can be caused by an infection, an allergy to certain foods, parasites, or substances in the environment. Your cat’s fur-loss pattern may even hint at the source of the problem:

  • Flea allergy: irritation at the base of the tail

  • Ear mites: hair loss and scabbing on the neck and ears

  • Allergic response to pollen: excessive chewing of the paw pads

Pain

Overgrooming can also indicate that your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort, particularly if she is repeatedly licking one area of her body.

For example, disc disease can cause back pain so that your cat overgrooms a certain spot on their back, while a urinary tract infection or anal sac impaction may encourage excessive grooming of the genitals or perianal area.  

Stress or Boredom 

Some cats use overgrooming as a way to cope with stress or boredom.

It is thought that licking releases endorphins that help relieve anxiety, so when a stressed cat finds relief in licking, it can turn into a habit.

Compulsive grooming, known as psychogenic alopecia, is usually triggered by a change in the cat’s daily routine or environment, such as moving to a new house or the arrival of a new family member or pet. Cats are very observant and may even feed off of our stress levels.

Cats are also highly intelligent and prone to boredom if their daily routine lacks proper enrichment. This cause of overgrooming is especially common in indoor cats that are alone for a large portion of the day.

In these cases, grooming helps make up for the lack of mental or physical stimulation.

This condition can be seen in any breed but is most common in Siamese, Abyssinian, Burmese, and Himalayan cats, due to their sensitive and attention-demanding dispositions.  

How to Stop Your Cat From Overgrooming

The key to managing excessive grooming is to first address the underlying cause. Your veterinarian can diagnose the root cause and provide medical treatment or suggestions for deterring the habit if it’s behavioral.

Look for Medical Issues (Take Your Cat to the Vet)

First, your veterinarian will need to rule out medical problems.

Infections or allergies can be treated with the appropriate medications, which (depending on the cause) may include antibiotics, antihistamines, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Keep your cat on flea medication year-round to help with flea allergies and ear mites.

If your cat is in pain, your vet can determine what’s causing it and how to manage the pain.

Maintain Routines to Reduce Stress

Cats love routine, so if the hair loss is stress-related, try to create a comfortable environment and a predictable schedule. Change the litter box at least once a day, and feed your kitty at the same times every day.

It’s best to incorporate changes gradually, such as the introduction of a new pet or changes in your living situation, to limit the amount of stress for your cat.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Be sure to provide environmental enrichment for your cat with cat trees, different types of toys, scratching posts, and frequent opportunities for play. This will help your cat build confidence and distract her from obsessively grooming.

Try Cat Calming Medications and Products 

Cats with persistent anxiety may benefit from anti-anxiety medications and/or supplements. You will need a vet’s prescription for medications, and calming supplements are available over the counter in the form of treats.

You can also try sprays and plug-in diffusers that disperse synthetic cat pheromones. Talk to your vet about the best course of treatment.

Be Patient With Your Cat 

Finally, the most important part of managing overgrooming is to be patient.

If you see your cat licking excessively, don’t punish her or try to interfere. This will only add to your cat’s stress and make her overgrooming problem worse.

After you’ve sought help from your vet, it may take a month or so for an overgrooming behavior to resolve, and even longer for your cat’s fur to grow back.

Featured Image: iStock.com/Konstantin Aksenov

vet.cornell.edu

09-10-2017 · Cats will lick when an area of their body is itchy or painful, says William Miller, Jr., VMD, a board certified specialist in dermatology and a professor at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. If pain is the issue, the licking is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. With itchy diseases, however, the licking is more widespread.

09-10-2017

Some cats are more fastidious than others, but obsessive grooming signals a problem.

Nellie, a seven-year-old female spayed tortoiseshell, rolled over on her back and revealed a bald belly. That's when her owner suddenly noticed she had a cat that licked too much. Licking comes naturally to cats, but sometimes this normal grooming urge crosses the line into obsessive behavior. If your cat's licking seems excessive in frequency or duration, don't ignore the problem. Here's what you can do if you suspect your cat's habitual grooming behavior isn't so normal anymore. licking

Cats typically spend between 30 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, says Pamela Perry, DVM, animal behavior resident of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "It's a huge chunk of their day," she says. "Because cats groom frequently, owners usually don't notice a problem until they observe significant hair loss or skin lesions," she adds.

Why Cats May Lick

Cats will lick when an area of their body is itchy or painful, says William Miller, Jr., VMD, a board certified specialist in dermatology and a professor at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. If pain is the issue, the licking is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. With itchy diseases, however, the licking is more widespread.

"We call these cats 'fur mowers,' and their problem is common in cats," Dr. Miller says. "The area being 'mowed' gives us a clue as to the cause [which can include anything from parasites in kittens to neurological diseases in older cats], but there is great overlap," he says. For example, compulsive licking at the tail head may indicate a flea infestation, while cats with pollen or food allergies may lick their backs, abdomens or other areas of the body.

Licking that causes excessive numbers of hairballs or hair loss is abnormal, Dr. Miller notes. "Bald skin is more prone to sunburn, frostbite or other environmental insults," he says. "As long as the licking doesn't break the skin's surface, no infection will occur. If the cat gets more passionate about licking and abrades the skin surface [with its rough tongue], infection can occur. Infection will intensify the licking and a vicious cycle will be set up, resulting in a serious infection," he explains.

The solution to "fur mowing" is to identify the underlying cause and correct it. "The owner can check for fleas, lice and fur mats, but beyond that, a veterinarian should intervene," Dr. Miller says.

"Over-the-top" licking does not always stem from a physical health problem; the behavior can occasionally have a psychological cause. Cats like consistency and predictability, and change can be stressful, Dr. Perry says. A recent move, the addition or loss of another pet in the home, or even a change of schedule can cause anxiety in cats. Licking - which in such cases is considered a "displacement behavior" - may calm and comfort a cat, but it can sometimes become habitual if the source of the problem is not properly identified and addressed.

When It's Stress-Related

"If all medical problems have been ruled out, then we normally treat overgrooming as the result of some form of stress in a cat's life," Dr. Perry says. If possible, she recommends making changes or introductions gradually; bringing familiar items (such as bedding) to a new home; adding cat-friendly vertical space - high places where cats can retreat and feel safe; and keeping their environment stimulating by finding a few minutes (ten to 15 minutes daily will do) to play with them each day.

"Most cats really enjoy interaction," Dr. Perry says. "Finding what your cat likes, whether it's cuddle time with you or a favorite toy that is like a security blanket, can relieve stress."

Finally, if your cat is seriously stressed, a form of temporary anti-anxiety drug therapy prescribed by your veterinarian may be warranted, she says.

In addition, like people who bite their fingernails, the repetitive act of licking may involve a stress-relieving pleasure component that reinforces the behavior, Dr. Perry says. Thus, feline licking can become a habit that persists after the cause is identified and resolved. "Usually, the behavior is forgotten [naturally or with the help of medication] in about a month," Dr. Miller says.

Whether the cause is physiological or psychological, solving an overgrooming problem will require time and patience on the owner's part. For Nellie, who had recently endured the loss of a companion animal in her home, the solution required consistent attention, affection and routine. It took a few months, but her hair is growing back and her life has returned to normal.

Why Is My Cat Licking Me?

Cats are very affectionate pets when they want to be. One of the ways they demonstrate that affection is by licking. When a cat licks another cat, another pet, or its owner, they are creating a social bond. From early kittenhood, they were cleaned and cared for by their mothers. Mom would groom them regularly and by doing so she would show them affection, warmth, and protection. In situations …

Your cat’s tongue is one of her most valuable tools. She uses it for around-the-clock, daily grooming. Her tongue is covered in teeny, tiny barbs (aka papillae) that she uses not only to keep her fur clean but also keep her bowl spotless. Of course, her licking behavior doesn’t just stop at her fur or her bowl, she loves to lick other things like bedding, plastic, cotton, and especially… you, her pet parent. Most cat parents tend to wonder about their cat’s behavior, what she’s trying to tell them, and even what she might be thinking. Even though licking isn’t seen as a concerning act-- most people view it as a cute, affectionate gesture; sometimes your cat’s licking could mean something else entirely. Sometimes her sandpaper-like tongue hurts, and you’d rather her lick something other than your arm. Maybe you know the answer to “why do cats lick themselves?”, but when it comes to humans, you may be unsure of the reasons. Read on as we break down some pawsible reasons why your cat’s fond of licking you, and tips on what you can do to redirect those licks if they get too uncomfortable. 

Affection

Cats are very affectionate pets when they want to be. One of the ways they demonstrate that affection is by licking. When a cat licks another cat, another pet, or its owner, they are creating a social bond. From early kittenhood, they were cleaned and cared for by their mothers. Mom would groom them regularly and by doing so she would show them affection, warmth, and protection. In situations where they’re feeling affectionate, cats only lick those they feel comfortable around-- those they recognize as family. 

Cleaning

We’ve talked about grooming quite a bit already, but it needs to be said again: cats are naturally clean pets. They are so meticulous about their grooming, that in households with multiple cats they actually designate a cat as the allo-groomer which is a cat that grooms the others of the group and keeps them clean. It is pawsible that your cat is trying to let you know that she’s your allo-groomer. In cat behavior--and dare I say, culture-- cleaning and grooming is strongly linked to affection and protection, so in those instances where she establishes herself as your allo-groomer, she could communicate that she is there for you by keeping you clean just like her!

Attention

Stretching, pouncing, biting, meowing, scratching, you name it… your cat has done (or will do) all of these things for attention. It’s pawsible that licking is just your cat’s way of saying, “Look at me! Look at me!” or maybe “You haven’t looked at me for a few minutes, I miss you… pay attention to me!” 

Stress and Anxiety

Sometimes, your cuddly kitten just wants to be pet or be played with, but other times, the attention-seeking could be stress or anxiety-related. Stress-related licking is more commonly done on itself, but she could just as easily be licking you out of stress, as well. Experts say that if the excessive licking continues even after the cause of the stress ends, then it would be best to take her to a veterinarian to assess any underlying health issues and an animal behaviorist to rule out any behavioral problems.

Marking Her Territory

Cats love to mark their territory in different ways: scratching, rubbing their cheek on things, and (unfortunately) spraying. Licking is just another way they lay claim to what they believe is rightfully theirs… what little catquistadores! Your cat is rubbing her little sandpaper tongue on your skin because she wants to let all the other cats out there know that you’re hers and hers only (unless you live with multple cats… in that case, you’re theirs and theirs only) How cute!

post_cta_mood.png

Mmm, Tasty

Did you know that cats have a more bland sense of taste than we do? Despite, being good at grooming, their tongues make them the only known mammal unable to taste sweets! How sad… but of course, they don’t know that, and it won’t stop them from trying to taste any new substance they come across whether it’s something that spilled on your arm or anywhere else in your home.

Teeny, Tiny Barbs

Your cat’s tongue is truly a wonder. It keeps her fur spotless, gets hard to reach food bits out of her bowl, and feels like the soft, supple touch of sandpaper grating against your skin. The sand behind the paper, or if you will-- the teeny, tiny barbs on her tongue are called papillae and they are made of keratin, which also happens to be the same material her claws are made of. How cool! This is why her licks get to feel uncomfortable and even painful at times. But how do you get her to stop or to lick something else without changing your bond? After all, licking is very normal cat behavior and any punishment (or anything seen as punishment) won’t be understood by your kitty cat and can risk changing your dynamic. The best way to redirect your cat’s licking can be by introducing other toys for her lick such as a stuffed animal, distracting her with hugs, cuddles, and playtime, or simply walk away for a while.

Normally, licking isn’t abnormal or concerning behavior from our feline friends. But if it becomes excessive or worrisome and you find yourself posing the question "why is my cat licking me constantly?", we always recommend contacting a vet or behavioral professional. We hope we’ve helped you understand a little bit why your cat likes to lick you and how to avoid unwanted licks.

Sources:

1. https://www.thesprucepets.com/why-does-my-cat-lick-me-551816

2. https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/cats/behaviour/understanding-cats/why-does-my-cat-lick-me

3. https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why-does-my-cat-lick-me

petstime.com

21-10-2021 · There are five main reasons why the cat may lick you: To mark you as theirs; To show you love and affection; To get your attention; To groom you; To comfort itself; Remember, however, that sometimes the explanation is more prosaic. Your cat may lick you just because it senses the food you’ve been eating and preparing not a long time before. Some pets like the smell of sweat, and they may lick …

21-10-2021

Despite their aversion to water, cats love to feel clean. They just take their bath a little differently than us, using the tongue instead. Sometimes, they groom the other cats, too. But why would they lick humans? Is that a way for your furry friend to tell you that you should take a bath more often? 

Well, that would be too simple – and cats are complicated beings, as all cat owners know very well. Understanding your pet is the easiest way to improve your relationship – and licking is one of the fundamental elements of its body language. By licking you, your cat may try to communicate different things. In today’s article, we’ll try to break this issue down for you. 

How does the cat’s tongue work?

Before we delve into the reasons why the cats licks their owners, let’s take a quick look into anatomy. The secret of the ability of the felines to clean themselves lies in the structure of their tongue. It works like a tender comb due to the presence of scoop-shaped papilla on the surface. It grabs excessive hair and all kinds of impurities, while allowing the saliva to reach the skin instead of sinking into the fur. That’s a very effective strategy that makes the cats one of the best groomers in the animal kingdom!

Why do the cats lick humans?

The behaviors of feline animals are often wrongly interpreted by humans. Sometimes, what we perceive as aggression is actually a defensive attitude – that’s often the case with hissing. In terms of showing affection, cats are also a hard nut to crack compared to dogs. Their ways of showing love are often much more subtle, and you need some practice to actually notice these signs.

See also:  +50 Anime cat names perfect for anime fans

However, in terms of licking, cats and dogs actually have a lot in common! For both, it’s a great way to express warm emotions. Dogs usually go all the way – if they really love someone, they’ll lick their face. Most of them leave this questionable pleasure for their owners since it’s a sign of ultimate affection. 

Cats are more restrained in the context of licking, but it’s also a significant element of their love alphabet. They usually lick the hands of the owners only – with some exceptions, of course.

There are five main reasons why the cat may lick you:

  1. To mark you as theirs
  2. To show you love and affection
  3. To get your attention
  4. To groom you
  5. To comfort itself

Remember, however, that sometimes the explanation is more prosaic. Your cat may lick you just because it senses the food you’ve been eating and preparing not a long time before. Some pets like the smell of sweat, and they may lick you because of that.

Licking as a way to express emotions

Your cat licks your hand when you’re stroking it? That’s a great sign – it means that it’s feeling 100% safe at the moment and is enjoying your company. The pet may use licking as a way to express affection and care. It doesn’t only apply to humans – cats can lick their four-legged friends for the same purpose.

Licking as a way to mark the territory

Cats have a strong territorial instinct. They use different strategies to mark their territory; all aim at leaving the smell and pheromones on a particular object or space. This way, it becomes theirs. Cats mark territory with their urine, but also through rubbing and licking. 

To leave their territorial mark, cats lick the accessories, but also… their owners. This way, they can transport their scent to you, making you their property. Of course, this smell is undetectable by humans – but the other animals can sense it. Cats lick their owners to send a clear message to their furry friends – this human is mine, and don’t you dare to try to steal them from me!

Licking as a way to groom you 

Cats love to feel clean, and sometimes they may want to clean you too. But grooming the human is never really about hygiene. By doing it, your cat is trying to establish your position in the group. By putting the familiar scent on you, they make you the herd’s member. 

It’s the same mechanism that makes the freshly made mother cats intensely lick their kittens. This way, she makes them a part of the herd. Their rejection has terrible consequences – the dominant males sometimes kill the kittens, particularly if they have another father. Even if the kitty lives in a safe environment where there’s no risk of herd rejection, these mechanisms manifest themselves in grooming the others.

So, if the cat is licking you, it may be trying to tell you: welcome to the family! It’s another way of expressing their care and protecting you from potential dangers.

Licking as a way to comfort themselves

The cats lick their kittens to protect them from the herd’s rejection but also to comfort them. Grown-up animals may reproduce these behaviors in adult life when they’re trying to fight stress. Such tendencies are particularly common among the young kitties that were separated from their mother too early. They often develop a tendency to groom themselves in search of comfort. It’s their surrogate of nursing. 

What happens, however, when the licking becomes compulsive? How to recognize that your cat has a grooming-related issue, and what can be its roots?

Excessive licking – what are the reasons behind it?

If your cat doesn’t lick you at all, there’s nothing to worry about – generally, cats do it way rarer than dogs or even don’t do it at all. What could bother you, however, is the excessive licking. Most of the time, it’s an issue tied to grooming. It manifests itself in very frequent fur-licking, often in the same areas over and over. 

See also:  Witchy cat names inspired by films and series (+50)

How to know when the cat’s behavior is abnormal? If you suspect that the pet’s grooming patterns are unhealthy, observe them closely throughout the whole day. See how much time it spends cleaning its fur. If it’s over 50% of the day, it may fall under the category of compulsive behaviors.

What causes the cats to over-groom? The reasons may vary. Some animals do it as a result of stress. Just as purring, grooming can become a coping mechanism that helps the animal deal with a stressful situation such as changing the environment or the introduction of a new cat to the space. Sometimes, the cats purr and groom simultaneously – that may be a hint that they’re trying to comfort themselves.

Over-grooming can also be a result of a disease. It doesn’t always have a psychological background – sometimes, it originates in physical discomfort experienced by the cats. They may lick some spots extensively when feeling pain or itchiness in the area. Licking may speed up the regenerations of the wounds, but if it’s excessive, it may actually bring an opposite effect. Sometimes, the rash and itchiness are caused by an allergic reaction to new food.

The cats can over-groom due to internal health issues as well – for instance, gastric problems or diabetes. Licking helps them deal with the discomfort and pain. 

What can happen if your cat licks itself excessively?

When you notice the unhealthy grooming patterns, it’s worth reacting right away and consulting the pet’s behavior with a veterinarian. Excessive grooming may end up in fur loss or even the formation of wounds. To prevent that, nip the issue in the bud by consulting it with a specialist and serving the pet the prescribed medication.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Him

03-12-2020 · One of the most popular reasons that your cat is licking you is because it’s creating a social bond. You may notice that mother cats usually lick their kittens nonstop. It’s not only a way to keep the young kittens clean, but it’s also a way to show affection. It’s the cat equivalent of giving hugs.

03-12-2020

Have you ever been petting your cat peacefully, then it aggressively grabs hold of your hand and starts to lick you? If so, you have probably wondered, “Why does my cat lick me when I pet him?” And you’re not the only person to have wondered this. It’s a common question with cat owners, and the truth is far more complicated than you might think. 

Today, we’re going to take a look at all the possible reasons for why your cat licks you when you pet him. Sometimes it’s a soft licking, and sometimes it almost seems angry! So, let’s get to the bottom of this feline mystery. 

Social Bonding

One of the most popular reasons that your cat is licking you is because it’s creating a social bond. You may notice that mother cats usually lick their kittens nonstop. It’s not only a way to keep the young kittens clean, but it’s also a way to show affection. It’s the cat equivalent of giving hugs. And because this kind of behaviour was shown to your cat when it was a kitten, it’s now doing the same thing to you, showing you affection. 

And it doesn’t stop just at owners. You may have noticed your cat licking the house dog, another cat, or any other animal that it feels a close connection to. This is simply the way that your cat is bonding with other creatures in the household.

Stress

On the complete other side of the spectrum, your cat may be licking you because it feels stressed or anxious. For a reason so beyond science that nobody truly understands it, it’s very common for cats and other types of animals to lick things or people when they feel stressed. Imagine licking a stranger on the street when you’re having a bad day. As weird as it is, this could be the reason why your cat is licking you. 

If you think your cat is stressed, always to try to identify the source and remove it if possible. But if the stress licking continues, be sure that you seek the advice of your veterinarian. 

Territory

Everyone knows that cats and dogs mark their territory. Most people think that animals do this only by peeing on things, but that’s not true. Cats will actually lick their owners to mark them as part of their own territory. This is a way for your cat to let other cats know that you are part of their territory and to keep their grubby paws off. 

If you have just one cat in the house, this is totally fine behavior. But if you have other animals or other cats in the house, it could lead to issues as your pets compete over territory, and that territory just so happens to be you! 

How to Stop a Cat from Licking

Regardless of what the motive is, not everyone is happy being licked. While you would be insane not to enjoy the occasional lick from your cat, it can prove too much if they do it nonstop. For this reason, it’s important to learn how to discourage your cat from licking you without being a jerk about it. You definitely don’t want to push your cat away, make them feel unwanted, or make them hate you! 

The best way to stop your cat from licking you is going to be by distracting them. This can be as easy as just playing with your cat. This will make them feel very happy because you obviously want to give them lots of attention, and it will immediately stop them from licking you. It will also probably prompt them to run away shortly after. 

If you don’t want to get scratched up, you can always get cat toys or cat wands to distract your cat from licking you. 

And of course, the best distraction of all is food. If you have a tasty treat handy, you can stop the licking immediately. Obviously, you don’t want to give your cat too many treats as it’s very unhealthy for them. You should always have a set number of treats that your cat can have in a day, otherwise your carpet is going to be covered in vomit. 

Do keep in mind that the treat technique can actually backfire. If every time your cat licks you, a treat is given, it’s going to teach your cat that licking you rewards them with a treat, and this will encourage them to lick you even more. If you’re going to distract them with a treat, do it tactfully so they don’t get used to it. 

Why Does It Hurt When My Cat Licks Me? 

Yes, sometimes licks can be painful. There’s nothing more unbearable than having your cat lick the back of your hand when it feels like fire! You don’t want to be rude by pulling your hand away, but it hurts and you hate it! So, why does it hurt when you get licked by a cat? 

It’s because of the cat’s tongue. Your cat has special barbs on its tongue that face backwards, made from the exact same material as your cat’s claws. This is why your cat’s tongue feels like scratchy sandpaper. While you may wonder why your cat has tiny little claws on its tongue, the reason is actually quite simple. 

The barbs on your cat’s tongue are incredibly important for grooming. The barbs work to remove dirt and other debris from your cat’s fur. If your cat didn’t have a sharp tongue, it would never be able to get its fur clean. Think of your cat’s tongue like a comb that picks out all the pieces of dirt and grime from its hair, while also keeping its hair nice and fluffy and clean. 

Of course, another reason that it hurts when your cat licks you is because it’s licking you in the same spot over and over again. This is obviously going to hurt because it’s repetitive! 

Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much

24-09-2021 · Its thought that this has something to do with the nerve endings connected to your cats fur, and too much petting can actually start to become uncomfortable. If your cat has been giving you a gentle lick as youre petting them, and they suddenly bite you, this is likely the reason.

24-09-2021

Does Your Cat Like The Licking

Why does my cat LICK ME? ð?± – 6 COMMON REASONS

While your dog may love licking your cat and show positive signs of liking them, does your cat like your dog? Licking is cute, though you also have to be wary about how your cat feels about being licked, as they do love their personal space and may be irritated at the new dog trying to invade it.

With that being said, you have to be wary and observe their behavior together, especially when the dog is licking his feline partner. Your cat may show sign of aggression or do a warning hiss as your dog comes close to lick, and thats time to put your foot down. Supervise their time together and be wary as to how your dog plays, avoiding rough games which may aggravate the cat.

However, if your cat shows signs of friendliness as well, such as closing their eyes and purring as the dog licks, then it may be a sign of a budding friendship. Continue to observe them make sure that your dog doesnt get too excited with licking to the point of aggression.

If they have already been together for so long and show friendliness and love towards each other, then theres no worry about your dog licking the cat. It may just be a part of how they spend time together. Just continue training for discipline and keep them in harmony as they strengthen their bond throughout their lifetime.

If you want to learn more about cats and dogs living together, heres an adorable video to check out:

A Cat May Lick You Because They Are Anxious

If your cat is licking excessively it could be because they are feeling anxious or stressed.

Your cat may not just be licking you, they may be licking other things or themselves excessively too.

If you have noticed this behaviour it is best to take your cat to the vet so you can rule out any medical problems that could be causing the stress, and in turn, the excessive licking.

Cats can become quite easily stressed, for example they do not like the change to their routine or living space.

If there have been recent changes in your home such as a new human or animal companion, new furniture or even moving home, it can cause your cat to become stressed.

Even seasonal and temperature changes can have an impact on your cats stress levels.

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.

Its thought that this has something to do with the nerve endings connected to your cats fur, and too much petting can actually start to become uncomfortable. If your cat has been giving you a gentle lick as youre 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 cats body language, you can keep those petting sessions pleasant for both of you.

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Cats Licking Then Biting

One minute your cat is gently licking your fingers. Then suddenly: snap. He goes in for a bite. Whats the deal?

Van de Kief says cats have different kinds of bites, and often when a nip follows licking, its more of a love bite. Other times, your cat may simply be letting you know shes had enough.;

Theres also another possibility that may explain a cat that licks and then bites. Cats that are becoming sexually aroused will want attention and then bite, Bulanda says. If you see signs, stop petting them. Once you know your cat, you will know how long to pet them and when to stop.

Any cat who may bite will show a combination of signs such as tail twitching, ears back or to the side, eyes wide, pupils big, fur on end on the back or tail, growl or low vocalizaiton, and even a tense body that looks like the cat could run away at any moment.

Whatever the root cause, if youd rather not be on the receiving end of pointy cat teeth, Van de Kief suggests squealing ouch! anytime it happens. She says its similar to what a mother cat does: a quick yelp when her kitten does something that hurts. Van de Kief likes to follow the ouch up with no biting.;

Then you get up and walk away, she says, because they want your attention. You dont want to reward that behavior with more petting or even scolding. Any response that you give could be reinforcing the behavior.

Or They Taste Like Something Else

Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much And Then Bite Me?

Even if you havent eaten anything tasty, your feline may still like the taste of something on your hands. This can include things like lotion and soap, which some cats find tasty. Soap and lotion are usually made with at least some animal fats. Those with higher amounts may be more prone to being licked.

Of course, cats usually only seem to like some soaps and lotions. Not just any soap or lotion will fit the bill. Therefore, it isnt uncommon for your cat to only lick your hands after youve used a particular lotion or soap. They happen to like that one and not the others.

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Why Does My Cat Lick Me: All The Reasons Why Your Kitty Grooms You

Pets can be pretty amusing at times, so it is fascinating to observe their behaviour. But, of course, some of their actions must be modified for proper physical and mental development, especially if you have a kitten to care for. Adult cats can also act strangely, perplexing the owner with a slew of questions, including “Why does my cat lick me?”

What does it mean when a cat licks you? Affection, love, care, and the wish to make you clean are not the only reasons for such behaviour.

The question, Why do cats lick humans? does not have a single answer. It all depends on where and how it does it. Discover some interesting facts that will help you understand your kitty.

Licking Is Okay But You Can Redirect Your Cat Too

Tired of all the licking? You might simply need to redirect your cats 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 theres a variety of reasons for this behavior, many of which are positive. If your cats licking becomes irritating, try to handle it with grace and let your cat down easy. If it becomes compulsive, talk to your vet.;

Resources:

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Umm Excuse Me Earth To Human

Ah, so this explains A LOT! My cat, Tom, does this as a means to get my undivided attention! Cats cant wave a banner at your or shoot you a text message to get your attention, so along with their meows, they may resort to licking you as a signal to get your attention.

If your cat is licking you playfully as a means to be pet or played with, this is fine. But if you notice that your cat becomes neurotic or starts resorting to this behavior more often, take this as a sign that they are stressed. Cats will display obsessive behaviors if they are experiencing stress or anxiety. Its our job as their cat moms and dads to uncover what it is in their life that can be causing them worry.

Has there been a change in their routine recently? Cats are creatures of habit that thrive off routine. Keep this in mind if your cat is suddenly licking you obsessively and theres been a change in their schedule. Examples of disruption could be: an addition to the familyboth human or pet, as well as changes in food or feeding schedule, or perhaps youve moved recently.

He Considers You To Be A Member Of His Group A Full

cat Cats in the same group are used to helping each other by licking each other, especially when grooming hard-to-reach parts such as the inside of the ears . Also, while grooming, in addition to licking, cats bite each other.

So, when your little feline licks you, it’s because he considers you a cat in his pack, and he helps you with your toilet, so as to maintain the cohesion of the group. Generally, in this case, these licks are accompanied by small nibbles.

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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 havent been petting your cat and they come up to you like this, theyre likely ready to play!

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

Dont Punish Your Cat For Licking You

Avoid punishing your kitten or cat if theyre licking you too much. You dont want to damage the bond you share with her by yelling, hitting or shoving her away from you. This is negative reinforcement and could even cause your cat or kitten to avoid youor even to become afraid of you.

Instead, be patient and loving with her. Use these positive methods to maintain the bond between the two of you and distract her in some way.

Kittens and cats love to show you how they feel. Rubbing, licking, laying on you or across your computer keyboardthese are all ways cats use to get your attention and show you their love. They can be darned independent, but they also need our care and attention. Treasure this sweet bond with your kittyyou wont be sorry!

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Your Cat Accepts You As Family

Another reason why your cat decides to lick you is that theyâre letting you know that they accept you as a member of their family. In other words, your cat feels secure in your presence.

Dr. Laura Robinson, a Pawp veterinarian, says that this can be their way of creating a âsocial bondâ that is natural âto them since from birth. Their mom will lick them to create a bond and show affection.â

Your cat has a memory of their kittenhood when their mother gave them cleanings as a baby. Now, theyâre continuing that tradition. Instead, now the roles are reversed, and your cat is taking care of you.

Again, your cat is showing that you are theirs. They arenât just nurturing you; theyâre also helping keep you clean while claiming you as theirs.

Ouch Why Does Your Cat Licking You Hurt Or Feel So Rough

Why does my cat lick me very much?

Now that youve got a few answers to the question, Why do cats lick you? you probably have a few follow-up questions like, Why does it hurt when my cat licks me? Your cats tongue feels like sandpaper because its covered with papillae backward-facing hooks made of keratin, the same material that makes your cats claws. The papillae help cats rasp meat off bones, and they also assist in grooming by acting like a comb to pull out loose fur and dirt.

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What To Do If Your Cat Licks You

In general, the fact that your cat is licking you is not at all a bad thing : it is a gesture of help, or a mark of trust and affection. This is why even if you don’t always enjoy licking, you should not bully your cat.

However, kitty can also lick you in some cases for the wrong reasons, for example if he is stressed or suffers from feline hyperesthesia. In this second scenario, you will have to prevent your cat from licking you, and the only way will be to correct the problem at the source.

In general, you will need to do what is necessary so that your little feline does not lack anything, and has food, accessories, and an environment conducive to his happiness and development. If your cat is suffering from feline hyperesthesia, you will need to turn to a veterinarian and a feline behavior specialist.

To Express Their Love

If your cat approaches you and gives you a couple of little licks and then a bite when you werent 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 doesnt 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 doesnt hurt them. Thus your cat thinks this is an appropriate way to express its love for you.

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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 cats tongue can feel a bit exfoliating. These spines allow your cat to clean itself thoroughly.

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 dont randomly groom other cats they will only groom the cats in their group.

We Spoke To Some Animal Expurrts To Find Out

Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much ?

Picture this: Youre cuddled up on the couch, with your favorite show on TV and maybe a fluffy blanket. Suddenly, your beloved kitty pads over and jumps up on the couch next to you. With a cat in your lap, the coziness is complete. Except instead of the warm furry weight you expect, you feel a rough, sandpapery tongue on your hand. It kind of hurts, right? Cat tongues have little tiny backward hooks on them to pick up debris from their fur, and it sort of feels like theyre exfoliating your skin. But more importantly, why do cats lick you in the first place?! For that matter, what does it mean when a dog licks you, too?

If this scene sounds familiar but leaves you feeling confused, youre not alone. Cats and humans have been suffering communication problems for years: We dont speak meow, and they cant get our alphabet right. Fortunately, weve reached out to cat experts who know exactly what your cat is trying to tell you when they treat you like they would their paw.

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Advantages Of Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face

1. Wound Protection

There are researchers in the Netherlands that were successful in identifying the chemical that is present in cat saliva which is called histatins. In turn, this chemical helps speed up the healing of wounds. This is done by promoting the migration and the spread of new skin cells.

Therefore, if you have a wound on your face, besides putting medical creams on it, your cats saliva will help your wound to heal. This chemical is also responsible for healing your cats wounds and pretty much explains why they lick their own wounds.

Also, a doctor from the London School of Medicine, Dr. Nigel Benjamin, found out that once your cats saliva comes into contact with your skin, it produces nitric oxide.

This helps in containing bacterial growth and also acts as a barrier to the wound, which will lessen the chances of infections.

More than that, the researchers from the University of Florida where able to isolate a protein from cat saliva and it is called Nerve Growth Factor. This protein is responsible for at least halving the time it takes for wounds to heal.

2. Building Trust

As mentioned earlier, your cat licks you because he trusts you. Therefore, if you let him lick your face, it is a sign that you are honored for him to groom you. In turn, he will also feel that you trust him.

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 , 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!

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Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

16-03-2022 · They enjoy being close to us, and they also love to play, and may also lick us to demand our attention. Sometimes, cats may also lick us to show their happiness or to express their love. If you notice your cat licking you, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal – at least, by cat standards – and there could be a number of reasons behind ...

16-03-2022

While dogs are known as man’s best friend, cats are something of an enigma – and they pride themselves on their air of mystery, often aloof nature, and curious habits – including licking their humans.

Underneath all the attitude, most cats are actually very affectionate animals.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

They enjoy being close to us, and they also love to play, and may also lick us to demand our attention.

Sometimes, cats may also lick us to show their happiness or to express their love.

If you notice your cat licking you, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal – at least, by cat standards – and there could be a number of reasons behind their action.

Wondering why cats lick you? Then read on!

Is It Normal For My Cat To Lick Me?

Cats spend around half of their time sleeping or napping and, of the other half, around 8% is made up of grooming.

For your cat, therefore, licking is a normal, everyday behavior, and very much an ingrained habit.

Unfortunately for owners, this tends to be more of a rough sandpaper experience than a soothing one, as your cat’s tongue is covered in “papillae” – these are hundreds of small, backward-facing spines that are firm to touch.

Papillae are important for your cat to keep themselves healthy, as they remove any loose fur or dirt from the coat, keeping them clean and comfortable.

So, now that we have established that this is normal, it is time to take a closer look at the reasons that your cat may lick you – and there are plenty to choose from!

Because They Love You

In many cases, your cat will lick you simply to show affection and assert their love for you.

Mother cats will groom their kittens, and many cats groom other cats that they are fond of – this is known as allogrooming.

Allogrooming helps to strengthen and enhance the social bonds between felines, and so your cat may be trying to achieve this with you when they lick you – the goal is to nurture the relationship between you, and offers a chance for your furry friend to show their affection.

Remember, your kitty can’t hug or kiss you, or use words to express their love and affection – grooming you through licks is the only way that they can show their feelings.

Because They Want Attention

The chances are pretty high that you will have expressed some sort of reaction the first time that your cat licked you – and to our feline friends, all attention is good attention.

Whether you responded by petting them, kissing them back, or talking to them, this is a signal to your cat that licking you leads to attention.

Even being reprimanded is a form of attention, and will likely encourage them to keep up the habit.

Your cat may also lick you to let you know that they are bored and want fuss, cuddles or to play – this is your signal to stop whatever you are doing and focus 100% of your attention on the cat – they expect nothing less.

Because You Are Part Of Their Group

Cats are territorial animals, and tend to communicate with one another by marking their scent – this may be left on other cats and animals, or on objects around the home.

This is also a key motivation behind mother cats licking their kittens – they are making it clear that they are part of the group.

Cats also tend to only lick those that they trust as a form of social bonding, so you should really take it as a compliment if you are chosen.

By licking you, therefore, your cat is inducting you into the group, and accepting you as part of the pack – you then bear the group scent, and so can be easily identified.

Ok, so it’s a little cult-y, but cats are like that.

Because They Were Weaned Too Early

This is a common issue with cats and kittens who were weaned too early, or rescue kittens who lost their mother at a young age.

While kittens are nursing, they will knead, suckle and lick their mothers.

Those who were weaned too early will often develop an oral fixation, and attempt to replicate the comfort that they received from their mother, and so may lick their owners to achieve this – this is usually also accompanied by purring and kneading.

These kitties will need a lot of comfort, reassurance, and confidence-building, as they tend to be a little anxious and nervous.

The doctor orders multiple cuddles and snuggles a day – and are you really in a position to argue?

Because You Taste Nice

Because You Taste Nice

Don’t worry – this isn’t your cat weighing you up for a post-supper snack.

In many cases, cats will be curious about interesting scents that they encounter on your hair or skin; this could be a strongly-scented shampoo, an intriguing lotion, or even an unusual perfume.

Remember, licking is a major form of communication and exploration for cats, and so your feline friend may lick your hair and skin to discover more about the scent.

If they like the scent, you may never get rid of them.

Human perspiration and sweat is also appealing to both cats and dogs – this contains salts and sugars that taste great to furry friends, so don’t be alarmed if your cat approaches you after a workout for a lick of your skin – this may be gross, but it doesn’t mean that they want to eat you.

Because You Can’t Groom Yourself

For most cats, their owners are simply large, hairless cats, who are pretty much incapable of performing basic tasks such as catching birds, staring at the door for hours, and grooming themselves.

Many cats will lick their owners in an attempt to help them get clean – just as they do to themselves.

Cats also have a natural cleansing mechanism that uses saliva to remove toxins from their fur, and so your cat may be trying to remove a scent that they don’t like from you by licking you.

When a group of felines lives together, there will often be one cat chosen as the designated groomer, and they will take responsibility for licking and cleaning all the other cats in the group, helping everyone to stay hygienic and healthy.

In these situations, you are simply another member of the group to be washed and groomed – it is kind of like being part of a very bizarre spa day.

Because They Are Anxious, Stressed, Or Hurt

Sadly, sometimes our furry friends will be frightened or anxious, and they may lick you to help express their stress.

This is a form of comfort and may occur after a change in environment, such as moving house or the arrival of a new baby.

In most cases, this is nothing to worry about – just offer your pet plenty of love and reassurance to help rebuild their confidence.

In some cases, your cat may also lick you to help them cope with pain.

If you suspect that this is the case, or your cat is exhibiting excessive licking and causing hair loss – book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to check things out, and rule out any medical issues.

Because They Are Curious And Excited

Contrary to their ‘don’t care’ attitude, most cats are actually very curious about the world around them – as anyone who has ever owned a cardboard box will attest.

Your cat may therefore decide to lick you as a way of exploring you, or because they are joyful and excited over your presence.

While it may be uncomfortable for you, it is also wonderful to see their little faces light up as they have fun – and with cats, you never know how long it will last, so make the most of every moment, and settle in for a petting session.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of reasons why your kitty may decide to treat you with a lick; they could be a sign of affection, kisses, cleaning, or a not-so-subtle form of domination.

In some cases, cats just love to lick people for absolutely no reason – we never said that feline behavior was normal.

While you can distract your furry friend with catnip or toys, this may not always be successful – in most cases, reprimanding or moving your cat will only increase their desire to lick you, so it is best to just remember your place in the household, go along with it, and enjoy your purring bundle of joy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFfOB_R8ons
Courtney Trent
I’m Courtney Trent and I hope that I can answer some burning questions that you have about cats, as well as some questions that you’d never have thought to ask before. I am aiming to shed new light on these amazing pets and hopefully change some people’s opinions on them. Also, let’s talk about wild cats - they’re just as awesome as domestic cats!

So, stay a while and learn more about domestic and wild cats from Windhaven Ocicats.

Courtney Trent
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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

my-cat-lick-my-fingers-then-bite-them

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 Is My Cat Licking Me?

"Why is my cat licking me so much?" you might ask. Why does he lick your shoes or groom you, then bite you? Although it might seem odd from your perspective, it actually makes a lot of sense to your cat. How Your Cat's Tongue Works. Have you ever wondered why your cat's tongue feels rough when he licks you? Cats have prickly tongues with little hollow spines on them called papillae. These ...

Cats are incredibly cute, but sometimes they have little quirks that aren't easy to interpret. Take licking, for example. Your cat grooming himself is normal. But sometimes he starts grooming youand then things get confusing. "Why is my cat licking me so much?" you might ask. Why does he lick your shoes or groom you, then bite you? Although it might seem odd from your perspective, it actually makes a lot of sense to your cat.

How Your Cat's Tongue Works

Have you ever wondered why your cat's tongue feels rough when he licks you? Cats have prickly tongues with little hollow spines on them called papillae. These spines help your cat get his fur very clean by attracting more hair, and they also help cool him by transferring larger amounts of saliva onto his skin.1 In the wild, those barbs aid him when hunting by helping him hold prey and get more meat off the bones while eating.2

Your Cat May Be Expressing that You're Part of the Family

Cats are not pack animals like dogs, but they do like to help each other when living in a community. One of the ways they help is by grooming each other and cleaning harder-to-reach spots. Cats might also like to clean others in the group to deal with an offensive smell. It's not just a pragmatic act; communal grooming helps solidify the understanding that they're all part of the same family.3

Your cat might be grooming you to mark you as part of her family, not just to clean you. It can be regarded as a sign of affection and trust. Some cats even lick each other to help calm and ease nervousness in the group. So try to see if your cat is more likely to lick you when she thinks you might be upset or stressed.

If your cat licks you, then gently bites you without breaking the skin, it's often called a "love bite." Some believe this is your cat's way of "gently" telling you she's had enough. Others say it's a sign of affection and part of the general grooming routine.

Your Cat May Be Stressed or Bored

Overlicking and overgrooming can sometimes be a sign of stress. This might be expressed not just when your cat goes overboard with licking himself, but when he licks you a lot too. Cats find comfort in licking, so your cat may calm himself by grooming a lot if he feels intimidated by something inside or outside the home.4

Your cat might also turn to frequent licking if he has too much energy and no other means to express it. That's why if he's bored and trying to get your attention, he might start licking you.

Look for other signs of stress or boredom, which could point to this being the source of the problem. These signs may include frequent meowing, scratching, or spraying.

Your Cat Might Be Drawn to a Taste or Texture

There's also a chance your cat licks you a lot simply because she's drawn to a specific taste on your skin or to a texture, like the feel of your shoes. If you were just walking outside barefoot, she might be drawn to the taste of the outdoors lingering on your skin. This cause is easily identified by removing the texture or taste she seeks.

How to Stop Your Cat from Licking You

There's nothing wrong with your cat licking you, and it's often a sign of affection and love. But if the licking is too much, then you might need to take action. First, take your cat to the veterinarian to make sure a health issue isn't causing this change in personality.

After you get the all-clear from your vet, look for different approaches to completely discourage your cat from licking you. (You may need more than one.) Try gently moving your cat when he grooms you too much. You should also try redirecting your cat's attention to a catnip toy that's more enticing than your skin.

If boredom is the cause of his licking, then take time to play with him more. Get him to chase a feather wand or try clicker training. Take him outside on a cat harness for a change of scenery. Set up cat trees, cat condos, and window perches since cats tend to feel more confident when they have high spaces to call their own. A confident cat is less likely to act out.

If stress is the cause, be sure you focus on improving your cat's e-meow-tional health. Comfort Zone products can help by mimicking the calming pheromones that signal to your cat in his language that everything's okay. Try the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser or use the Comfort Zone Calming Collar if you want the calming signals with him wherever he goes.

If you have more than one cat, this might be a source of stress. Try plugging the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser into the rooms where your cats spend the most time.

The next time your cat starts grooming you, remember his licking can actually be a compliment. If he's not stressed, he may simply be trying to get your attention. Or your cat may be trying to show you that he considers you part of his family.

1. Bess, Emilie. "Why are cats tongues rough?" Rover.com, https://www.rover.com/blog/why-are-cat-tongues-rough/.

2. Tucson. "Blue Sky Science: Why Do Cats Have Rough Tongues?" Tuscon.com, 21 November 2018, https://tucson.com/news/science/blue-sky-science-why-do-cats-have-rough-tongues/article_0670be6f-7e0b-5945-a0ba-f9ec720c9079.html.

3. Gilpatrick, John. "Why Does My Cat Lick Me?" PetMD, 10 November 2017, https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why-does-my-cat-lick-me.

4. Ibid.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me So Much?

18-05-2021 · Cats have very specific tongues. They are a bit rough, as they use it for grooming themselves and keeping their fur clean and beautiful. However, besides licking themselves, many cats also love to lick their owners. You may wonder why is that, and here are some possible reasons and explanations about why your cat licks you so much.

18-05-2021

Cats have very specific tongues. They are a bit rough, as they use it for grooming themselves and keeping their fur clean and beautiful. However, besides licking themselves, many cats also love to lick their owners. You may wonder why is that, and here are some possible reasons and explanations about why your cat licks you so much.

Reasons Why Your Cat Likes to Lick You

  • To show you love and affection. That is their way of expressing their feelings towards you. They are creating a bond with you, showing you that they feel safe and loved when they are close to you. This is in their nature because when they are small kittens, their mother licks them to show them affection. Now when they are adults, they lick you to show you the same affection. 
  • Your cat licks you to groom you. They are “cleaning you”. This is also a part of their nature, as their cat mothers were doing the same thing to them when they were kittens. They are showing you that you belong to them, and they take good care of you.
  • To mark you as their property. It may sound silly, but cats want to mark things that are their “territory”. Licking, rubbing, and spraying are things they do to claim that something belongs to them, in this case – you. They are also giving signals to other animals to know that you belong to your cat. 
  • It licks you to taste something delicious. They may smell something nice on your skin, so they naturally want to lick it. Perhaps you have spilled milk, or there is some residue on your skin that is attractive to your cat. Sometimes even your sweat may attract them to lick you because it reminds them of you. They love licking salty skin, so that might be a reason why your cat licks you so much. 
  • Your cat is trying to get your attention. When they need petting, feeding, playing, or something else, they will likely let you know with their excessive licking. That is their way of grabbing your attention. So, it is a good idea to check whether your cat is hungry, thirsty, or just wants to play when it starts licking your skin.
  • Your cat may be licking you excessively to better cope with stress or anxiety. Cats can be stressed for many reasons, and them licking you is their way of calming down their nerves. Sometimes excessive licking may also be an indicator of a more serious medical problem. However, oftentimes it is just their mechanism for better coping in stressful situations. 
  • Your cat may start licking you more when you move into a new home, or when there is a sudden change in their familiar environment. This should not worry you at all, because they are emotional little beings and are afraid that you may leave them. They lick you and kiss you, so you will keep them close forever. 

Why Is My Cat’s Tongue Harsh on My Skin? 

This is because cats have different tongues than other animals. Their tongue is covered with papillae, which are little spines made of a substance called keratin. Their tongue must be strong to be able to clean their fur well and remove all kinds of obstacles and substances. It is normal to hurt a little when your cat licks you, and that is nothing serious to worry about. 

How to Stop My Cat to Lick Me? 

Licking is not something that should give you worries. It is perfectly normal behavior of cats, no matter how often it happens. However, their rough tongue may not always be pleasant on your skin. If it annoys you seriously, then you can do a few things to prevent such behavior. The important thing is to try redirecting their attention to something else when it starts licking. Perhaps start cuddling or petting your cat, or divert its attention by throwing a toy or a ball to play with.

You can also just walk away from your cat when it starts to lick you excessively, but never ignore your cat. Sometimes cat licking may be a sign that something is wrong. If they do not look well, perhaps you should schedule an appointment with the veterinarian’s office for inspection. The veterinarian may give you some advice regarding cat licking and tell you some valuable tips about how to stop it if you do not like it.

The bottom line is that cat licking you is often a big compliment and you should accept it as such. In the same way, humans kiss each other, cats are licking their owners to show them their affection. By licking, they acknowledge that they feel safe, loved, and very happy when together with you.

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Likes to Lick You

kittycattips.com

So, why does my cat lick me when I’m sleeping? Possible reasons why your cat licks you when you’re sleeping are that it is grooming you, it wants something from you or that it is being affectionate. There are actually a number of possible reasons why your cat does it and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things to consider to help figure out the main ...

If your cat licks you when you are sleeping, this post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my cat lick me when I’m sleeping? Possible reasons why your cat licks you when you’re sleeping are that it is grooming you, it wants something from you or that it is being affectionate.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your cat does it and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.

Reasons why your cat licks you when you’re sleeping

Below are a number of possible reasons why your cat has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

It is grooming you

It is not unusual for cats to lick each other while one of them is sleeping. The most likely reason why your cat licks you when you’re sleeping could be that your cat is grooming you. This would be more likely if your cat also licks itself at the same time.

It wants something from you

The reason why your cat does it might also be that your cat is trying to get you to give it something. This would be more likely if your cat tends to lick you in the morning before you have fed it.

It is being affectionate

A part of the cause is also likely to be that your cat is being affectionate. This would be more likely if your cat also shows signs of being happy when it is doing it such as by purring and kneading.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your cat has been doing it.

If your cat has always licked you while you sleep

If your cat did not always lick you while you sleep, it would help to consider what else happened when your cat first started doing it. For example, if your cat started doing it when you started sleeping in longer in the mornings, the cause would be more likely to be that it is trying to remind you to feed it.

What else is different when your cat licks you while you sleep

It would also help to consider the timing of when it licks you. If it does it when it has already been fed, it would be more likely that your cat is grooming you and being affectionate.

What to do about your cat licking you when you sleep

Below are some options you have to help get your cat to stop doing it.

Avoid encouraging it

When your cat starts licking you, it would help to get your cat to sit elsewhere. By doing this whenever it starts licking you, it should teach your cat that licking you results in it not being able to sit with you.

Get it to sit elsewhere

Another option would be to get it to sit in another spot whenever you want to sleep. By doing this, your cat will not be able to lick you.

Cat Excessive Licking, Scratching, and Chewing Causes

If your cat is scratching, licking, or chewing themselves compulsively, it is likely you regularly catch them in the act. But if you don’t, your first clue may be the disappearance of your cat’s fur, often in strips along their back or stomach. Cats with self-mutilating behaviors may also cause red, irritated areas called hot spots to form, but they are less likely than dogs to do so ...

WebMD discusses common reasons why your cat might be biting, chewing, or scratching itself.

From the WebMD Archives

Most cats are meticulous groomers, but what happens when the behavior goes into overdrive? For a variety of reasons, some cat licking, scratching, and chewing behaviors become compulsive, which can annoy you and damage your pet’s skin and coat.

If your cat is scratching, licking, or chewing themselves compulsively, it is likely you regularly catch them in the act. But if you don’t, your first clue may be the disappearance of your cat’s fur, often in strips along their back or stomach. Cats with self-mutilating behaviors may also cause red, irritated areas called hot spots to form, but they are less likely than dogs to do so.

Although compulsive cat scratching, licking, or chewing behaviors can develop in any animal, they are more commonly observed in Siamese cats and other Oriental breeds. Female cats are more likely than males to lick, chew, or pull on their fur.

Because there are a number of medical problems that may result in scratching and licking behaviors, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to help determine the cause and the best course of action.

Parasites. Fleas are often the culprits behind compulsive cat scratching or cat licking behaviors. Because cats are excellent groomers, they may actually remove all traces of fleas. If you notice your cat licking their lower back obsessively, with or without scabs on the neck, it is a sign that fleas might be causing the problem. Other parasites, including ticks, mites, and ringworm, can also prompt scratching, licking, or chewing.

Allergies. Just as some people develop skin irritations in response to certain foods or environmental triggers, cats may have itchy, irritated skin if they are allergic to something in their environment.

Dry skin. Dry winter air or nutritional inadequacies can contribute to dry, flaky skin that gets your cat started licking or scratching in search of relief.

Pain. If you notice your cat licking or biting at the same spot over and over again, it could be that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in that area.

Boredom, anxiety, or compulsive disorder. Compulsive cat chewing, scratching, or licking behaviors often develop in cats who are bored, stressed, or anxious. These mental disorders are more likely to occur in indoor cats, which may be due to the fact that they receive less exercise and excitement than outdoor cats. Compulsive disorders often begin when there are changes in a cat’s environment, including a new animal or baby in the house or a move to a new location. Also, behaviors that started in response to a medical problem sometimes persist as compulsions after the condition is resolved.

Eliminating parasites. Because it can be difficult to diagnose flea infestation in cats, some veterinarians recommend trying reliable flea control products purchased from a veterinary office for six to eight weeks to see if it reduces the incidence of licking, scratching, or chewing. Similarly, treating mites or other parasites, if present, can eliminate your cat’s discomfort and the problem behaviors.

Changing foods. Putting cats that arescratching or chewing on a 6-week exclusion diet is a good way to find out whether food allergies are the problem. You may have to try several diets before you find one that works. Veterinarians may also prescribe the addition of certain fatty acids or other nutritional supplements if dry skin is to blame for your cat’s incessant scratching and licking. No other foods or treats should be offered during an exclusion diet trial.

Using medication. Depending on the extent of skin damage your cat has caused by licking, chewing, or scratching, your veterinarian may prescribe the use of steroids, antihistamines, and antibiotics. Additionally, some compulsive cat behaviors caused by psychological factors can be addressed with clomipramine, an anti-anxiety medication, or amitriptyline, which helps fight anxiety and also functions as an antihistamine.

Addressing anxiety or boredom. If you and your vet determine that there is no physical cause for your pet's behaviors, there are things you can do to improve your cat’s state of mind. Making sure your cat feels safe, loved, and comfortable in your home is important, as is providing adequate stimulation and exercise. You may find that desensitizing your cat by slowly and carefully exposing them to things they fear can be beneficial. Be careful to take baby steps if you try this so as not to overwhelm your cat and make the compulsive licking, scratching or biting worse. Counter-conditioning, by training your cat to associate something pleasurable, like a treat, with something they fear may also help reduce stress and anxiety. Many times, boredom licking (also known as psychogenic alopecia) is improved by adding another cat or pet. But, there is always the risk that the second cat could be a new stress in your pet's environment that could make the hair loss worse.

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 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? [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 Keep Licking Its Lips? 5 Reasons for this ...

22-03-2021 · Ever just watch your cat and wonder why he's licking his lips so much? Is there something wrong with him? Or does he just have a little food left on his face?

22-03-2021

Every time you look over at your cat, does it seem like they’re licking their lips? Maybe you wrote off the behavior as normal—but they just won’t seem to stop. So, if they didn’t just eat a tasty treat, what could cause this behavior? Is it a sign of concern? The good news is—not usually.

But several factors might cause it, so you need to know what you’re looking for. Let’s discuss some reasons your feline can’t stop smacking their chops. Plus, find out what you can do to help if the situation calls for it.

1. Your Cat is Grooming or Cleaning Up

Anyone who owns a feline knows just how clean they want to be. It might surprise you that cats spend over 5 hours a day grooming their bodies. They prefer their fur to be clean, debris-free, and sleek. Some cats may exhibit more or less of this behavior.

If you noticed that your cat is licking their lips excessively after eating, it could be that they are just trying to clean the outside of their mouth. Some cats might be more obsessive about cleaning than others but you need to look for other signs to point you in the right direction.

Start to pay attention to when your cat is licking its lips. If you find that it is directly after mealtime or once they’ve had a drink, you might be able to conclude on your own that this is, in fact, the reason.

2. Your Cat Might Suffer from Oral Disease

Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

If you have a cat, particularly one that is advancing in years, oral disease is one of the most common things that can happen. There are lots of different specific dental conditions that your cat might have.

Some of these issues include the following:

  • Gingivitis – Gingivitis is a bacterial condition in the mouth that causes swelling and redness on the gumline.
  • Periodontitis – Periodontitis Is the advancement of gingivitis into a more serious tooth condition. The bacteria gets deeper into the gum line which can cause infection and an abscess.
  • Tooth Resorption – Tooth resorption happens inside of the tooth and works its way out. Thirty to 70% of house cats suffer from this condition and there is no known cause.
  • Oral Tumors – Oral tumors can develop anywhere on the inside of the mouth and can cause significant discomfort. Your cats might be licking their lips and access because of pain in their mouth. They aren’t able to comfort the feeling, so licking might help compensate or at least attempt to curb the pain.

Your veterinarian would be able to visually examine your cat’s mouth to determine if they have any dental or oral issues. Once they check things out, they can recommend how to move forward. It could be something as simple as starting a brushing routine or as complicated as dental surgery.

To get ahead of any of these developing issues, it is crucial to brush their teeth and keep them clean no matter how much your kitty resists. Sometimes wet food can contribute to plaque buildup on the teeth, which can develop into decay overtime.

Developing a routine with your cat where you brush their teeth might take some getting used to, but eventually, they will acclimate. Also, offering dry kibble as a great way to clean the plaque off of their teeth the crunch helps to reduce the buildup of plaque on their enamel and gumline.

3. Your Cat Ate Something Toxic

Image Credit: Deedee86, Pixabay

It’s no secret that our cats eat things that they are not supposed to sometimes. You might look over to see one of them nibbling on inedible items or your favorite house plant. Certain things can be very toxic to our felines that we might not realize

Others can be mildly toxic, not enough to cause significant symptoms, but enough to irritate. If your cat eats something that is not agreeing with them, it might lick its lips or salivate.

If your cat presents any of these other symptoms that accompany lip licking, bring your cat to the veterinary clinic immediately.:

  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Coma
  • Lack of appetite
  • Not drinking

Because toxicity to certain things can be quite dangerous, you need to make sure you get ahead of the issue. If suddenly your cat starts licking their lips excessively along with displaying other symptoms, you must take them to their veterinarian right away. You never know just how toxic something was and how life-threatening it could be.

4. Your Cat is Nauseous

Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay

If your cat has an upset stomach, it might cause this behavior. Often, when a cat isn’t feeling the greatest, it might lick its lips as a sign of pain and irritation.

If this is often happening due to nausea, there is most likely an underlying cause. Cats are not supposed to be nauseous all the time. It could be caused by anything from a scent that you use in your household to some food sensitivity.

In addition to lip-licking, you might notice the other symptoms that can point to nausea:

  • Drooling
  • Licking
  • Chewing
  • Dry heaving
  • Dehydration

While sometimes nausea can be a simple fix, it can sometimes point to more severe health issues. Some additional causes for cat nausea include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

But if you do suspect that the nausea is ongoing, absolutely make an appointment with your veterinarian so they can examine as needed. They might have to run lab work testing to pinpoint exactly what’s off.

In the event that it’s food-related, they might have you try food trials so they can pinpoint the ingredient that is giving the cat grief.

5. Your Cat Might Have Allergies

Image Credit: suju-foto, Pixabay

If your cat is irritated with allergies, it might be licking its lips because they’re itchy. Allergies can be quite irritating, as anyone who suffers from them can contest to. Allergies might stem from environmental factors or food-related triggers.

Other symptoms accompany allergies that could be apparent clues. Look for different allergic reaction cues such as:

  • Watery eyes
  • Excessive itching
  • Labored breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation

If you are concerned about the possibility of allergies, work alongside your veterinarian to determine the cause.

Related Read: Your Cat Has a Swollen Lip? Here’s Why, & How to Act (Vet Answer)

There Might Be Other Explanations, But Ask a Vet

Unfortunately, it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of lip-licking without a proper examination. To rule out anything severe or significant, you should always make sure to take your pet to see its own special doctor. You can work to get ahead of any conditions that might be developing.

There is no advice that is a substitute for a professional diagnosis. Mentally note any additional symptoms and work with your vet directly to figure out—if necessary.

Featured Image: Joe Makepeace, Flickr

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!

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!

Purina One

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