Why Does My Cat Keep Licking Me?

Have you ever wondered why your cat licks your hand or face extensively in between? Then you are like many cat owners. Your animal world reveals what causes the licking could have – and how you can prevent your cat from licking you off.

At first glance, it might be a nice feeling when your kitty licks you off – even if her tongue feels like sandpaper. Because: After all, this is a sign of their affection. But depending on how long and persistently the cat worked on you, it might get annoying at some point.

So how do you keep your cat from licking? And can your puss lick you for other reasons? Here are the answers:

Cats Strengthen Their Bond as They Lick

The first question is, why do cats lick at all? In fact, this is a behavior that even small kittens display: They lick each other and thereby take care of their siblings’ fur.

They learned this from their mom: After all, one of the first official acts of a fresh cat mom is to clean her offspring with her tongue.

Adult cats also groom each other if they get along well. In doing so, they help each other to clean hard-to-reach areas and thus strengthen their mutual bond.

The simultaneous exchange of fragrances also contributes to this.

Your Cat Licks You Out of Affection …

When cats lick people off, it may well be that they are expressing their affection – and wanting to strengthen their bond with us. So basically, the rough-tongued visit is a huge compliment: you’re probably just the best cat pal there is.

Your cat feels safe with you and sees you as part of their family. And that’s why she licks you.

“A cat doesn’t care that you are human,” explains veterinarian Dr. Sara Ochoa to the magazine “Reader’s Digest”. “As soon as you are important to her, she treats you just like any other member of her group.”

… To Mark Their Territory, …

We have already mentioned above that the exchange of scent marks also plays a role when cats lick each other. The same principle applies if she licks you off. Then your cat “marks” you with its saliva and signals to its conspecifics: This person belongs to me!

… Or to Calm Yourself Down

Have you ever noticed that your cat licks you especially when you are sad? Dr. According to Sara Ochoa, the four-legged friends have a good sense of whether part of their group is currently feeling bad. Your kitty is simply trying to comfort you with her care – just as she would with another cat.

Stress and Fear Can Also Be Behind It

The other way around, it can also be that your puss is stressed herself if she suddenly licks a lot. For some cats, grooming becomes compulsive when they are particularly stressed and anxious. This can go so far that at some point they get bald spots in their fur from all the licking.

Usually this “overgrooming” does not refer to you, but really to the cat itself. It can also happen that some frightened velvet paws lick fabrics, plastic, or people. If this excessive licking continues for a long time, it is best to consult a veterinarian.

This is How You Keep Your Cat From Licking

If you are bothered by your cat’s gifts, it is best to prevent them from the outset. Is your kitty about to stick out her tongue again? Then quickly distract them, for example with a toy with catnip or hidden goodies.

You can start before that by making sure that your cat is busy and relaxed. This also reduces the risk that she or you will lick yourself or you out of stress.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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