Why does my cat lick me? 6 reasons according to cat behavior experts!

by Anjelina

One of the greatest resources of cats is the tongue. Thanks to its fine receptors, this organ allows animals to detect various external stimuli, but also to regulate their body temperature and even communicate with each other through facial expressions. Not to mention they lick themselves and their young ones! Cats use their tongues, which are covered in multiple barbed papillae, to clean themselves, spending 30% to 50% of the day keeping their fur clean. But personal hygiene is not their only concern, and they lick not only their own fur but also objects and living things, particularly their human “relatives”. As a result, we often tend to ask: “Why does my cat lick me?

Why does my cat lick me? Top 6 likely reasons!

why does my cat lick me

Although for obvious reasons it’s impossible to say for sure, researchers, veterinarians and experts on feline behavior have put forward their guesses as to the most likely reasons why your cat wants to lick you from time to time. After researching why cats scratch the ground around their food bowls after eating, this is another feline behavior that deserves a closer look.

The animal wants to show you its affection

cat licking its owner's face showing signs of affection


Licking is not only a body grooming mechanism, but also a way for cats to show their love. Your cat creates a social bond by licking you, other cats, people or pets in the household. This cuddling behavior can be traced back in time to when your cat was a kitten and her mother licked her to nurture her and show affection. Many cats carry this act into their adult lives by licking their humans to convey the same affectionate feeling. If my cat licks my nose, face, hand, etc., I know it loves me!

The cat just wants to mark its territory

While there are many ways cats mark their territory, including rubbing their cheeks against objects and scratching, licking is another behavior cats can use to claim something as their own. So if you’re wondering “Why is my cat licking me?”, know that it wants to make sure others (both animals and humans) know that you belong to them.

Is my cat licking me to groom me?

Although your cat may not realize that licking you is not helping you “clean up,” it is a very instinctive behavior. Cats lick their kittens to show they love them, but mostly to teach them to take care of themselves. This grooming is actually essential for the survival, as it removes not only dirt but also any odor that would reveal the animal’s presence to other predators. So if my cat licks me, it’s because it wants to protect me by cleaning me.

The cat perceives a new and interesting smell

why do cats lick so often reasons given by cat behaviorists

“The cat is licking my hand/fingers/face: why is that?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the vet’s office, and the answer is often simpler than it seems. It may be that the animal has just tried something new on your skin that has interested it. Maybe you’ve spilled something and just wiped it up, or you’re using a new face cream? Perhaps your cat will find the smell and taste interesting.

Also, if you’re exercising, or it’s hot, your sweat leaves salty marks on your skin and your four-legged friend wants to taste it. Curiously, cats have a much more muted sense of taste than humans. In fact, they’re one of the few known mammals that can’t taste sweet things.

What should I do if my cat licks me to get my attention?

Another question is, “Is it possible for my cat to lick me to get my attention? According to cat behaviorists, it turns out that it is. Whether it wants to cuddle, play, eat or something else, it might just want to be noticed. In this case, licking is equivalent to any other attention-seeking behavior, such as pawing.

Your little friend is coping with anxiety or stress

Finally, your cat may be licking you because it is anxious or stressed. Although excessive licking or grooming can sometimes indicate a problem, cats often lick (other cats or themselves) as a coping mechanism to deal with stress or anxiety. “I recently moved into a new apartment and now my cat licks me constantly! This is usually normal as the cat is highly territorial and this is its coping mechanism caused by the stress of moving. The same goes for other environmental changes.

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