Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
- by Rufus and Coco
Cats are wonderful creatures. They’re independent, adorable, but they can also be extremely quirky that we become privy to the strangest of behaviours. One such example is excessively licking people and, sometimes, even other cats.
But what does it mean when your cat licks you? Should you be worried, or is it something perfectly normal?
5 Reasons Why Your Cat Licks You
They love you
It might sound cheesy, but your cat doesn’t actually have a lot of ways to show you that they care. While you can pet them, give them food and offer them rewards, or just generally take care of them - which are all gestures of affection, they can’t obviously do the same for you.
This licking behaviour is even more common in young cats. If they’ve lost their mother, they might lick you to soothe themselves and basically tell you that they feel completely at ease when you’re around.
The same goes for cats that tend to be anxious when they are left alone. They’re generally more affectionate with their owners, so they are more likely to lick them.
If you’ve ever noticed the behaviour between two cats that share the same living space and get along well have towards each other, this might not seem strange at all to you.
Cats often look at their pet parents as members of their family, which is why they will want to groom you as well.
Some cats, especially those that have strong maternal instincts and might also have a litter that they care for, will try to teach their human friends to groom themselves by licking their fingers.
They want to explore the world
Human finger-licking is more common in kittens because they are so eager to understand everything that surrounds them and what goes on in their environment. But the same goes for adult cats who will want to understand what’s on your fingers if you’ve recently handled various foods that they might find appealing.
Besides, your fingers are warm, and your skin is soft, so why shouldn’t they have a lick if they can? Cats are often curious about scents and tastes, especially because they don’t have as wide a palette as other animals - which is mostly due to the fact that they are obligate carnivores.
Getting your attention
While there are many other ways that cats can get your attention, and many of them can be quite frustrating (such as inappropriate elimination, especially if they hold a grudge against you), if they’re feeling partial towards you, they’ll lick you to make you focus on them.
Some people stop petting their cats when they get distracted. And it is in this particular moment of distraction that your kitty will try to find a way to get your attention so you can get back into petting them. One effective way in which they do this is by licking you.
They’re marking you
While cats tend to mark their territory, toys, and other parts of their living space using other methods, licking can be another type of behaviour that they might resort to.
But in this case, it’s quite likely that the licking is going to be complemented by other things, such as your mate rubbing their cheeks against your palms or legs.
Even scratching and light biting are ways in which some cats mark their owners and show affection - regardless if we are bothered by it or not.
Should you be worried?
The short answer to this question is no. Cats show serious symptoms when they are ill, and licking is not a typical sign of disease for their species.
However, excessive grooming, meaning licking their own bodies too much, might be associated with separation anxiety or even idiopathic dermatitis, so in that case, you might have to take your cat to the vet.
If you don’t feel comfortable when your kitty starts licking you more than it should, you can try toys as a form of distraction. Our Rechargeable Laser Cat Toy can provide plenty of entertainment and we all know how our feline friends find catching the red dot hard to resist.