Cats are just lovable – from their adorable faces to their bristled rough tongue that they use in licking both their human families and each other. However, we often wonder why our feline friends engage in the activities they carry out – why would a cat insist on scaling a wall only to land on its bottom? why do they exhibit the habit of grabbing their favorite toys off the shelf several times in one day? Better still, there is a more obvious question that all cat parents would really love to have answers to, why do cats lick you? and what does it mean when your cat licks you? All these questions and more will be explained below

Marking Their Territory

Just like dogs, cats are known to engage in territory marking through the use of pheromones. While it is common knowledge that cats mark property by peeing on things, it is also possible for them to mark their territory via several other ways. Head rubs and licking are ways our feline friends lay claims on us as a part of their possessions, albeit affectionately. When you observe your cat rubbing against you or licking you, it is some sort of reaffirmation that you are their property and further sends a warning to every other cat. Additionally, if you have other kitties in the household, you might have noticed that they are to shy away from you if another cat is in your vicinity; this is most likely because they perceive that you are already taken.

Kitten licking finger

Part Of The Family

Also, when a cat licks you, it might also be an attempt to teach humans some grooming skills. This behavior usually comes from the kitty’s memories of being constantly licked by the mother and is a genuine sign of love and affection. What’s more, it’s often mentioned that cats believe that they are equal to a human, and when you consider certain behaviors of cats towards their human families, it is not difficult to see why. A very good instance is a kitty that would drop a lynched bird or mice on the doorstep in a bid to share a delicious treat with their parent. Cats are also known to brandish live animals before their owners in an attempt to teach some hunting skills. It is glaring that cats don’t just see their adopters as part of the family, but they also believe humans to be incompetent at being cats and female cats are known to display some sort of nurturing or parenting kind of behavior.

Cats Lick For Social Affiliation As Well As Affection

For cats, licking is some kind of positive indicator showing that they actually like you, and would love to be closer. No doubt, cats are generally quite attentive by nature and, thus, are attuned to the moods of their adopters. The incidences of cat licking humans may occur more when you are either sick or stressed. So, the next time you are stress, and you wonder ’’ why my cat licks me’’, it could be making an attempt to calm your worries, just like you are likely to pet it when it seems nervous.

Also. if you have had the pleasure of observing cats clustered together, you will notice their behavior of licking each other within their social groups – this is called “allogrooming.” It is not only felines; several other animal species tend to groom and lick one another in a bid to strengthen the social bonds existing between them. Allogrooming is also targeted at reducing conflicts within the social circle. What’s more, living with felines makes them view you as a member of their social group; thus you will constantly be included in their allogrooming, which is an exhibition of affiliation.

They Love Your Taste

This next fact is quite amusing but remains very true. The reality is that, if your cat licks you non-stop, it might have found the taste of your skin quite enjoyable. Certain ingredients present in human sweat to be appetizing and some items that we rub on our skins like skin lotion or medical ointment also attract a good licking from your furry friend. This behavior may well give rise to negative results for adopters who make use of specific topical hormone-treatments that may lead to negative or harmful hormonal changes in dogs as well as kitties. Topical medications that are known to be toxic to felines include; Calcipotriene for treating psoriasis, corticosteroids, as well as creams with zinc as part of the content (these creams are specially used for diaper rashes). Pet parents who are regular users of topical medications should endeavor to consult the vet to rule out the possibility of any risk to their feline companion.

Cats Lick To Ease Anxiety

Many cats take to licking for the sole reason that they may be feeling fearful or anxious; this might be a way of calming or consoling themselves and is comparable to the way we engage in nail chewing when we feel worried about something. The same type of behavior has also been observed in kittens that are a bit too young to be removed from their mother’s care – they tend to develop what is known as oral fixation (a condition that is also evident in human babies).

If you observe that your cat’s licking behavior is becoming excessive, the best option is to enlist the services of a professional who can evaluate the situation, and proffer workable solutions.

They Need Attention 

Many cats would often lick and sometimes bite just to get attention. More often than not, if your cat licks you, it could mean that they want to play or just want you to pet them: however, it might indicate a more serious situation such as anxiety or stress. If you observe that the excessive licking still continues after the removal of the stressor, there is cause for alarm. If your cat is licking you to the extent that it interferes with its daily activities, a vet should be consulted, just to rule out all possible medical conditions that can be the cause. Furthermore, quickly address the issue by bringing in a qualified animal behaviorist after the vet gives the cat a clean bill of health.

Sources:

  1. Why Does My Cat Lick Me? – Pet Health Network
  2. The Science Behind Your Cat’s Scratchy Tongue – Pet MD
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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