Cats brush themselves using their tongues, which are coated with curved spines known as “papillae.” Cats may spend up to 50% of their time grooming themselves and keeping their fur immaculate. As a result of all of this time spent on cleanliness, many cat parents are perplexed and think, “Why does my cat lick me?”.
Here is a list of reasons why they do that
- To express feelings of love
- In order to establish their domain
- To clean you, particularly if you are hairy like them
- To taste something odd
- To draw your attention
- To deal with feelings of worry or tension
Read on to find out more about these behaviors from your cat.
Why Does My Cat Lick Me
Even while it may be difficult to know for certain, experts, vets, and cat behavior specialists have proposed several potential explanations for why your cat may sometimes lick you.
Here are 6 reasons why your Cat licks you and if you should be concerned.
To express feelings of love
Cats lick you at times not just as a grooming procedure, but also as a means of expressing love.
Your cat is forming a social connection with you, other cats, and even other animals by licking you or licking them.
A portion of this habit may have developed during your cat’s infanthood, when their mother licked them to bathe them as well as to express care and love.
Many cats continue to exhibit this behavior throughout their adult life, licking their owners to convey the same message.
In order to establish their domain
There are a variety of behaviors that cats use to “defend their territory,” including cheek rubbing, scratching, and regrettably spraying[Source]. In the same light, licking is one way that cats may engage in claiming something as theirs.
Therefore, when licking, your cat may be attempting to make sure that other cats or animals are aware of their ownership over you.
To clean you, particularly if you are hairy like them
This activity is perfectly normal to your cat, and he or she may not even understand that licking you isn’t assisting you to stay clean.
In addition to teaching their kittens to groom themselves, mama cats groom their kittens to show them love and form a connection with them, as previously stated.
If you notice that your cat is licking you, your pet may be attempting to assist you with grooming. This conduct aids in the cleaning of you as well as the establishment of your relationship.
[Related Article: 4 Cute Reasons Why Cats Bite You For No Reason!!]
To taste something odd
Your cat may be grooming you because they are interested in something on your skin that they have or maybe haven’t tasted before.
It’s possible that you’ve spilled something or come into touch with anything that has left a coating on your body – and your cat enjoys the flavor of the substance.
If it’s hot outside or you’ve been exercising, your perspiration may have left a salty coating, which your cat is attempting to ingest.
Strangely enough, even though cats’ tongues are designed for grooming, cats have a considerably more subdued sense of taste when compared to human beings.
It is believed that cats are one of the few animals known to be unable to detect the sweetness of food.
To draw your attention
Another potential reason why your cat licks you is that they are trying to get you to give them attention.
Your cat may lick you in an attempt to get your consideration, whether they want you to touch them, provide for them, or otherwise pay attention to them.
Licking may be considered comparable to any other showy cat activity, like clawing at you or meowing.
To deal with feelings of worry or tension
Finally, your cat may lick you as a sign of anxiety or tension on his or her part.
Although excessive licking or grooming may be a sign of a medical problem in certain cats, many cats lick you or themselves to relieve nervousness in general.
Your cat may begin licking you after you two have moved into a new house or after they have experienced a shift in their surroundings.
However, unless your cat grooms his or herself to the point that his or her skin gets rough or they develop bald patches, this kind of licking is usually not a cause for concern.
In this situation, you should consult with your vet to determine the best course of action to take to correct the problem.
What Causes My Cat’s Licking to Hurt So Much?
The solution is straightforward. As previously stated, the tongue of a cat is coated with little spines known as papillae.
These papillae are composed of keratin, which is the same material that is found in human fingernails, something meant to be hard and bristly.
Given that cats are natural groomers, the structure of their tongue is powerful enough to penetrate deep and untangle their hair, remove foreign substances such as dirt, and disperse oils, among other things.
As a result, when a cat licks you – continuously rubbing their boney tongue against your skin – it is likely to be uncomfortable for a short period. It is for this reason that cats’ tongues are frequently likened to sandpaper.
What is the best way to stop the licking?
Unless your cat is continuously licking you and grooming aggressively, licking is generally not a cause for concern – it is a normal cat habit that should not be overly discouraged.
However, because of the abrasive nature of a cat’s tongue, it may be irritating to have them licking you regularly.
If you want to discourage this kind of conduct, the most effective thing you can do is attempt to divert their focus elsewhere.
For example, if your cat enjoys snuggling, you could hug or start stroking them to attempt to divert them from licking your hand.
In a similar vein, you could attempt to redirect their focus away from licking and toward playing with a toy. Finally, if your cat’s licking gets excessive, you may choose to just walk away or depart from the cat.
While your cat licking you isn’t usually a cause for concern – and may even be considered a compliment – if you’re worried about your cat’s behavior, we suggest that you consult with your veterinarian for guidance.