Cats are some of the cutest and most playful animals on Earth. They come with silky fur, cute whiskers, and mitts that are fuzzy. However, their tongues have a bit of a rough texture. You would come to know about this when your cats lick you.
There are a few theories for when a cat licks you. Thus, in this article, we will talk about why cats lick pet parents.
1. To Show Affection
Sometimes your kitty might constantly lick you, and this is because they consider you as a member of your family, and thus they feel secure when they are with you. Generally, by licking their pet parents, they try to replicate the affection their mothers had for them when they were young.
Cats generally lick each other to show their affection and to gain trust. Thus, you can think of it as kisses they display through licking.
2. To Build a Sense of Ownership
When cats lick you, they try to mark and establish their territory. You will observe them doing this with other animals, cat toys, and you as their pet parent. When your cat licks you, they leave a distinct scent, implying that they want to build ownership, stating that you belong to them.
This behavior is similar to mother cats licking kittens to establish a sense of belonging. Licking is a kind of social bonding for cats that get along well despite being siblings or from different litters. It means the cat thinks of you as a family member, whether a sibling, parent, or child. Licking you is a sign of affection between the two of you.
3. To Groom Themselves
Though cats may not often understand that licking themselves would not clean them, this behavior comes naturally to them. Mother cats teach their kitten to groom themselves by licking them. As a cat parent, you might be familiar with “Allogroomer.” It means a cat is licking and grooming other cats in a group.
In cases where the cat licks you, they want to work as a groomer for you, which means they want to clean you and establish your membership in the group.
4. To Substitute the Pacifier
Cats that get weaned or orphaned early in their growing stage develop oral fixation from infancy, making them excessive lickers. It is because they missed out on suckling in their youth and want to at least get the feel of it by licking you. Early weaning includes kneading, accompanied by purring, essentially looking like a smile on your cat’s face.
5. To Soothe Itself
Apart from the above reasons, cats can lick themselves for self-soothing reasons. It is generally a second nature thing they do as a part of their routine. However, if you see that your cat is licking itself or people, it is best to ensure that they are not facing any issues and ask your veterinarian to examine it.
6. To Make Your Realize Its Anxiety
Another common reason why your cat licks themselves includes stress or anxiety. If you see this type of behavior, then try to determine what is the reason for your cat feeling anxious. It will help you identify the trigger and remove the same.
Stress triggers are of various types and can include different types of anxiety reactions. Some of them are as follows.
Types of Anxiety
These anxious behaviors in cats occur only in specific contexts, like maybe going to a veterinary clinic, traveling in the car, or leaving home alone.
In this case, the cat is in a constant state of stress and anxiety, whatever the situation is.
Depending on the type of anxiety, your cat might excessively lick, causing severe medical and behavioral conditions.
7. To Taste You
Well, do not freak out, but most animals, including cats, like to lick just for the simple and strange reason that they want salty skin. You might also see your kitty licking you when applying a lotion or perfume.
Thus, when you have applied these things, dry them before you play or hang out with your cat. These products contain certain elements that may not be good for cat health.
8. To Communicate to You that Something is Wrong
Your cat might lick you, not just for attention or to want to play. Cats may also do it if something is wrong. As many veterinary experts say, it is often possible that cats try to lick their parents when facing a medical issue.
If you see they are licking themselves on a particular spot, it may indicate that they possess a wound that would require time to heal.
How Safe is it for Your Cat to Lick You?
Generally speaking, your cat licking you is safe. However, if there are any harmful substances or chemicals on your skin, then it can pose a risk to your cat. Moreover, sometimes for some people, the sensitivity of the skin matters.
So, if your skin is susceptible, your cat licking it might cause an allergy reaction creating an uncomfortable situation for you.
How to Prevent a Cat from Licking You?
Despite being safe and of a lovely nature, such habits mustn’t be encouraged. Thus, you can follow the steps given below.
Try to distract them with some cat toys or catnip. You can buy the SmartyKat Catnip. It is a great item for your cats to thoroughly enjoy themselves, giving them a break from their continuous licking.
Try to walk out from your cat whenever they start licking you.
You can also wear a blanket or full sleeves to prevent them from licking.
If your cat dislikes a particular lotion or a scent, try to rub it on your skin. It can act as a deterrent, thereby licking your cat.
Licking is a very individual behavior by cats, and the reasons vary greatly. Thus, to distract them and curb such behavior, it is essential to understand why they are doing so and try different methods.