Have you ever wondered why do cats lick you? There are many reasons for this endearing behavior and in this post you’ll discover a few of them.
Whether you have one cat or multiple cats chances are your furry friends will lick you. Take it as compliment though as it shows kitty love!
Keep reading as I share common reasons for this sweet behavior. You will be amused and fascinated by some of the possible reasons why your cat licks you!
Cats have social structures despite being solitary creatures. One of the biggest factors of these social groups is scent.
As I’ve mentioned so many times, cats have a phenomenal sense of smell. It plays a huge part in their lives and helps recognize other family members.
Licking each other transfers scent creating a group odor. In addition, grooming and licking each other creates a bond.
Feel flattered as your kitty sees you as part of her social structure. She’s marking you with her scent as a way of social bonding.
You Are Being Claimed!
Your cat is also claiming you as hers! Any other cats you meet will smell her scent on you.
It’s even possible this will deter a strange cat from making friends with you. If you’ve tried petting a cat you don’t know in the neighborhood you may know what I mean.
Cats are highly territorial and licking you marks you as claimed! In fact your cat marks everything you bring into the home. From other pets to the table or sofa your cat owns everything!
Your Cat Is Showing Affection
I’m most cases licking is your cat’s way of showing affection. After all, you’re part of her social group and she’s simply affirming the bond you have between each other.
Although you’re probably very clean and shower daily, your cat is actually washing you. This is an instinctive action that mimics a mother cat grooming her kittens.
This is how mother cats teach their young to clean themselves as well as bond with them. It’s a way of showing affection as well as forming close relationships.
Of course your cat isn’t really making your hand clean, but it’s nice to let her try:) It won’t harm you and cats are very clean animals!
Is Your Cat Stressed?
Though less common, your cat may be licking you because she’s stressed. This could be a result of house moving, a change in your home, or something else.
Cats can suffer anxiety and stress similar to humans. Anything from grieving over the death of another pet to squabbles with a neighbor’s cat could trigger anxiety.
You may also notice your cat grooming herself more as well as other subtle signs. In most cases cats soon adjust and excessive licking will fade.
However, if it doesn’t you could always consult your vet. Often they can advise on behavior issues and offer helpful solutions.
Your vet may also carry out a few health checks to rule out any illness or conditions. As I’ve often mentioned, cats are good at hiding illness and it’s only by noticing changes in behavior they’re diagnosed.
Another reason your cat may be licking you is to get attention. Whether your kitty thinks it’s time for feeding, or she wants to play, licking you is a good way to get you to notice her.
As any pet parent knows, cats are masters at grabbing attention. From pawing your arm to biting your hand, your cat will work out the best strategy!
If licking your hand works best this will be noted for future use. Cats have excellent memories as well as being great problem solvers.
Your Cat Likes The Taste
If you’ve been eating something your cat likes the taste of she may lick any residue off your hand. Whether it’s meat stew or fish cake your cat will help clean it off!
Of course, I’m not implying you’re a messy eater lol! In addition, you may be wearing a scent your cat likes the smell of.
Why Licking Can Be Painful
If you’ve been licked by a cat you’ll know how rough it can feel on your skin. This is because a cat’s tongue is covered in backward facing spines.
These have multiple purposes including stripping meat from prey and acting as hair brushes. As your cat grooms herself these spines catch loose hair and detangle knots just like a brush.
However, humans have delicate skin that’s easily damaged. Your cat doesn’t realize this and as far as she’s concerned you’re no different to a litter mate or other member of her feline family!
This should be taken as a compliment! As previously mentioned, grooming is all part of bonding and a way of showing affection.
Should I Wash My Hands After My Cat Licks Me?
Most people immediately wash their hands if licked by a cat, Especially if preparing food or eating. Although, cats are very clean animals there’s always a chance you could pick up germs.
Picking up toxoplasmosis from a cat licking your hand would be rare. However, if your cat’s feces was to become infected it’s possible germs could be passed onto you.
Pregnant women in particular should be mindful of the risk.
In addition, don’t let your cat your hand or face if you have any cuts or sores. Even though a cat’s saliva has healing properties, this only applies to cats!
Any germs passed on from your cat could cause an infection. Only allow her to lick you if you’re not eating or handling food.
Generally speaking though, it’s perfectly safe to let your cat lick you. It won’t harm you, and can strengthen the bond.
I hope this article has helped answer your question “why do cats lick you?” As you’ve discovered there are a few possible reasons With most being affection. You’ve also discovered why a cat’s tongue feels so rough on your skin and if you should wash your hands after.
You can discover more about cat behavior and forming a closer bond with your cat here. This book was written by Australian cat enthusiast Mary Mathews and has a lot of useful tips and insights.
Cats are wonderful pets with so much love to give. As you can tell from my posts I have a true passion for cats and enjoy helping you understand a bit more about them.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)