While it may be a form of flattery, cat licking still has the potential to become excessive or tiresome. Therefore, she’s making an attempt to stop you from bothering her. If you've ever had a dog, it's likely that, at one time or another, you've taken part in a staring contest with your pet. Don’t be surprised to find Fluffy sidling up next to you to get a taste. This bond is important for any human and cat relationship, and much like with humans, absence can make the heart grow fonder. If you’ve ever been licked by your cat, you know it’s not the most comfortable experience, and it leaves you wondering why does my cat lick me? Koski says some people will attempt to prevent the behavior altogether by applying something that tastes bad to cats to their own skin. Licking your face might be one of them. Below are common reasons why cats lick their humans. Or if another part of your body could use some exfoliation, redirect her there. Your cat’s tongue is specially designed for thorough cleaning and removal of dirt and loose fur. 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. Your cat could be enjoying the lotion you just put on your hands—or maybe you were cooking, and the food scents smell really good to her. Terms of Use Privacy Policy Interest-Based AdsChewy Careers, Understanding Dog Body Language in Senior Dogs, Boredom in Dogs: Signs Your Dog Is Begging for Attention, 8 Unmistakable Ways Your Cat Says ‘I Love You’. Cats groom to hide smells that alert predat… She has no idea that her tongue actually hurts, though. “Cotton, plastic, bedding, and rubber are common materials cats will lick,” says Dr. Megan Maxwell, a certified applied animal behaviorist and owner of Pet Behavior Change in Virginia. Why do cats lick you? So a nose sticking out when they are in the mood to lick is going to be reason enough. Cat love bites can also be unintentional, as part of the cat’s grooming process. Why does my cat lick me and then bite me? Since she can’t pet you, she licks you instead. Why Does My Cat Lick Me: 6 Reasons. And the behavior is not limited to just licking herself or her food bowl. Why Cats Bite Then Lick, or Lick Then Bite. Licking is important for coat maintenance Licking removes the scent of prey after a meal It’s how mothers clean their kittens and help them eliminate their waste In a multicat environment or in a cat colony, allogrooming helps create a familiar group scent The good news is, your cat licking you, whether on your body or you face, is a pretty normal behavior. It’s important to understand the specific reasons behind this feline behavior, so you can appropriately divert your cat’s attention when your arm needs a break. Your cat is showing you affection. … If that doesn’t work, Koski recommends simply walking away when licking becomes excessive, which causes the cat to associate licking you with you disappearing. Playing with our pet is really beautiful. This ability comes from the papillae covering it – hooks that face backward and are made of keratin, which also is the material that her claws are made of. From a young age a cat’s mother would not only lick them as a way of grooming them, but also to show affection. Caitlin UltimoSeptember 12, 2016Behavior / Pet Body Language. treehugger.com - Amy Y. Conry Davis. If your cat licks a lot, or even likes to suckle on you or your clothing, then there is every chance they … Why Does My Cat Lick My Face? Again, it could be a sign of affection and possession—she loves you and you belong to her. Kitty gives you a tongue bath because she accepts you as a member of her family and feels completely secure when she’s with you. “I have a cat who loves snuggling with me and licking my face. Terms of Use Privacy Policy Interest-Based Ads Chewy Careers, Copyright © 2020 Chewy, Inc. As their companion, grooming you comes naturally to them. We humans tend to think that when animals lick us, they are showing us their love. 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. Maxwell says she has worked with many owners whose cats will lick or even bite them to get their attention. What I'll typically do is simply move my face away from him and either offer my head to nuzzle against or I will pet him so that he just enjoys the petting and stops licking.”. Your cat is nurturing you in the best way she knows how – by keeping you clean and claiming you as her own. 2. Distraction with a catnip toy or throwing a balled-up paper across the room is a much better way of dealing with getting peeled alive. But never reprimand or punish her for doing what comes natural. Cats who lick and then bite their owners consider this as a form of affectionate play-fighting (similar to the way your brothers put each other in a headlock). Cats who are siblings or are from different litters but get along quite well together will lick each other as a form of social bonding. Your cat might lick you if it is feeling anxious or stressed. Today, we’re going to take a look at all the possible reasons for why your cat licks you when you pet him. 1. She's bonding with you. Why does my cat lick me and then bite me? Spill something on your arm? She adds that licking (both other cats or their human owners) is often a sign that a cat is calm. Koski says cats may enjoy licking the salt that builds up on your skin naturally. There are many reasons why cats like to lick their owners, but it’s generally thought of as a positive behavior. While her reasons behind licking are heart-warming, and her checkered past as a kitten deprived of adequate suckling is sad, none of that will make your skin feel any better if she starts to really go to town on it. A cat’s tongue is one of her most versatile body parts. “Unfortunately, some of this licking can be problematic when it leads to chewing and then ingestion of these materials.”. For cats licking their peers reminds them of early … Any cat owner whose kitty is fond of licking her hair is well aware that Fluffy’s powerful tongue is capable of actually pulling some strands out. She remembers how her mother gave her cleanings as a kitten and now is continuing what she learned, only with the roles reversed (unless you happen to lick her as well). Your cat wants to be playful with you. A Cat Licks if it Feels Anxious or Stressed. As a game. Why does my cat lick me, when I pet him? My own cat, Tara, headbutts me constantly when she’s sitting on top of me, and half the time she knocks my glasses off my face when she does it. When kitty is especially anxious, she may begin licking compulsively. That’s why one of your cat’s favorite daily activities is licking. When her sanding gets to be too much, give her a little kitty massage to get a little deeper than surface petting. The idea is that the cat won’t like the taste and won’t lick you in the future. She would do that on my nose tip or ears and while it was a nice gesture I'd have preferred she not do that. “If you feel like your cat is licking you excessively, the best thing you can do is redirect her actions,” Koski says. They could be “licking for a certain period of time, then using their incisors to get a particular area. The same thing goes when they groom their fellow cats as it is a sign of social bonding and respect. When cats have bonded, they look out for each other. Sometimes, this might mean they want to play or be pet, but in other cases, it can be a sign of something more serious like stress or anxiety. Why Does My Cat Lick Me? You or something you're … If your cat seems to lick incessantly, try giving her more attention and affection to soothe her and hopefully back off the sandpapering a bit. Your cat is informing you that it has your best interests at heart. Your Cat Is Grooming You “It appears to be somewhat of a loose grooming type of behavior,” says Amelia Wieber , CPDT-KA, CCBC, and a member of the Daily Paws Advisory Board. You can take these “kisses” as a sign that your cat feels safe and happy. Cats show affection in funny ways. Licking their humans is a way to calm themselves 3, somewhat like how humans will chew their nails when they feel anxious. Affection and Bonding. My cats sometimes lick me but frequently don't. So you can feel good each time you feel that rough little sandpaper tongue that you and your kitty are … If your cat gets a clean bill of health, a certified animal behaviorist can help you address the issue quickly. Why Does My Dog Stare at Me? It probably is. If the lick is to the mouth or face, a cat is showing genuine love for you. It’s a common question with cat owners, and the truth is far more complicated than you might think. A cat love bite can certainly be a result of overstimulation. With time and consistency, your cat should learn that you are a lick-free zone. Safety isn’t necessarily an issue with another one of your cat’s favorite targets: you. Sometimes, this might mean they want to play or be pet, but in other cases, it can be a sign of something more serious like stress or anxiety. There is no scientific evidence that cats can ‘sense’ human illness. This is because, unlike us, cats have tiny barbs on their tongue that are meant to … Cats also love rubbing faces to show you how much they love you. Some cats will lick humans because they feel anxious and/or fearful. To a cat, licking her owner is her own version of petting you. The reason is probably that licking is a sign of your cat’s getting too much of your petting. The same holds true for any type of punishment that you might dole out in response to licking. “It’s covered with tiny little barbs that act as both a comb for when she's grooming herself and as a rasp for getting all those little meaty bits off bones or food bowls,” says Marci Koski, a certified feline behavior and training consultant and owner of Feline Behavior Solutions in Washington State. If you noticed, the kittens would often lick each other which are a sign of social bonding. Does … Here are the four most common reasons why your cat licks you. This behavior is also observed in cats that were too young to be taken away from their mothers. Cats who were weaned before it was time or who were orphaned develop an oral fixation that makes them excessive lickers. Maxwell says she has worked with many owners whose cats will lick or even bite them to get their attention. When cats lick you, it can mean that they are attempting to teach you to groom yourself. Your cat may choose to groom you, your hand or face or head,” says Dr. Mama cats lick their kittens as a means of showing the world they are hers, and your cat could be doing the same thing to you. It’s a rough, scratchy feeling that can be a bit irritating. Why does my cat lick me when I scratch her? That’s a good sign that she needs to be petted and cuddled to reduce her stress. 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. If pain is the issue, the licking is focused on the painful area, like in cases of disc disease or anal sac impaction. Licking is a part of cats’ grooming and social bonding. Cats use licking as a means of marking territory.Licking marks you with your kitty’s unique scent, establishing the fact that you are their human. “I usually take my cats’ licking as a compliment,” Koski says. In certain cases, your cat might lick you due to anxiety or stress. Mother cats lick their kittens to establish them as belonging to her, and your cat does the same to tell the world you’re hers. Overall, your cat licking you is often their version of a validating pat on the head. Well, experts believe cats lick and groom their feline and human housemates as a way of showing trust and care. “Usually, the members of the group are related to each other, so licking a human may be the cat's attempt to include you as part of her group.”. Featured Image: Pashin Georgiy/Shutterstock, Copyright © 2020 Chewy, Inc. If you catch yourself asking, “Why does my cat lick me,” remember that it’s usually a sign you’re doing a good job as your cat’s human. She says it can have an undesired effect, however, and the cat may begin to associate the unpleasant experience with you in a more general way, which can be problematic. She needs to know you understand. But is that really accurate, especially when the tongue of your cat feels like it’s sanding your skin off? The papillae actually function like a comb to separate hairs and fur to get at the dirt underneath. Both petting and … Another sign of early weaning is kneading you, accompanied by satisfied purring and what looks like a smile on her face. To a cat, licking her owner is her own version of petting you. If you find your cat licking you, some object, or herself to the point that it’s interfering with daily life, you should first speak with your veterinarian to rule out any medical problems that might be to blame. Licking you is a gesture to bond the two of you together. Grooming is a significant sign of affection from cats. But, as any responsible pet owner knows, it pays to be mindful and observant of all “off” behaviors. “Within a group of cats living together, there is typically a designated ‘allo-groomer,’ which is a cat that licks and grooms the other cats in the group,” Koski says. It's a memory your cat had from being licked by its own mother and is a real sign of affection. “Social grooming by licking is an important affectionate behavior in cats, and licking can be a sign of affection between cats and between a cat and a human,” Maxwell says. This play-fighting can get out of hand and your cat may start to become a little aggressive with you. Option #1: It’s a love bite! Yes, the idea that an arm covered in cat saliva is “clean” doesn’t totally compute for us, but for a cat, it’s an important behavior that promotes bonding. Another answer to the question, “Why do cats lick you?” Why Does My Cat Lick My Hand? Licking also establishes territory by marking things, cat toys, other animals, and people with her scent, which tells interlopers to stay away because this is Fluffy’s property. Yes, when you cat seeks your immense affection, it licks you. Sung. For a behavior that’s often about love and emotional closeness, it’s tricky to tell your cat to stop without jeopardizing your relationship. If your cat grooms your face, it is ensuring that your important body parts are kept in good condition. Scratching your cat can trigger certain instincts in your cat which might lead them to lick you. Eliminating parasites. In a typical self-grooming session, a cat will sometimes gently bite his or her fur first, in order to remove something hard to get off or to untangle fur, then lick to finish off the cleaning process. Continued Treatment for Your Cat’s Scratching, Licking, and Chewing. The answer to this is probably because you’re making your nose accessible to your cat when they want to lick you. While stress-induced licking is more commonly associated with a cat grooming herself, Koski says that excessive licking that persists after a stressor has been removed from a cat’s environment is a cause for concern. She is most likely licking you to grow closer and form tighter bonds. Licking Is Like Petting. Overall, your cat's tendency to lick you whenever you pet her is a positive sign. You should be happy when your cat licks you because it means that they trust you and feel safe with you. When your cat licks your face, it’s likely a form of socializing & showing affection, like when we pet … You must also consider whether your cat smells something you do not. Cats will also lick each other as a way to calm them down. UpWhat I believe the reason cats lick people's toes is to further bond with their humans scent which is very important to the kitten and babes and a way of identifing their moms and vice versa. If you are curled up with your cat, and she takes your hand in her paws and licks you, she is probably engaging a grooming behavior with you, as she would another cat or kitten. Both petting and licking are forms of affection to her. Frannie-Cakes on December 07, 2019: "i lick my cat because she purrs when i do it" ... Lmao! You’re sitting on the couch, watching TV, when your cat comes up and starts licking you, and you don’t know why. Cats then replicate this behaviour with you as a way of showing their own affection – it simply comes naturally. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a spill for this to hold true, however. I had a cat (sadly she died last summer at the tender age of 22) who would sometimes lick me and then kind of chew. When your cats lick you, they’re paying you a huge compliment. 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