Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
Do you have a cat? Have they been licking you lately? Do you find this odd? Cats are not known for licking their humans the way dogs do, but in fact, many cats lick for a variety of reasons. If your cat is a natural fan of licking or if they have started licking more often lately, you might be wondering why.
The good news is that there isn’t anything too serious that can cause a licking behavior in cats. However, there are some causes that might need your attention. Read through this information to find out what could be causing your cat to lick you so often, and decide what you need to do from there. If you have any questions, call Bottletree Animal Hospital in Oxford, MS at (662) 234-4336.
Grooming and Affection
The most common cause of licking in cats is grooming. If your cat is comfortably lying in your lap or resting beside you and begins to lick you, they are grooming you just like they would groom their kittens or littermates. They will probably purr while they do this.
Affection is another common and related cause of cats licking humans. Sometimes, cats just want you to know how much affection they have for you, and they do this by licking you. This is something that occurs when you have a strong bond with your cat.
Marking and Scenting
Your cat may want to mark you or make you smell like them. This is because they want other potential cats to know that you are their human! Although you can take this as a compliment, it may also be irritating. If so, it’s okay to gently stop them and redirect their attention to a toy when this happens.
Most cat owners tend to just let their cats lick them now and then as a marking activity. However, if you have multiple cats who are very territorial, you may end up accidentally causing a fight by letting this happen.
Some cats may want a lot of attention, while others do not. If your cat is an attention seeker, they may start licking you because they know it’s going to get some attention from you. Even if you react negatively, this is still attention, and your cat will quickly learn to lick you when they want you to touch them or talk to them.
If you want to stop them from doing this, the best thing to do is just to ignore them when the licking begins.
Your cat might be tasting you—and that’s perfectly normal! Cats love the taste of salt, and since human sweat is salty, they sometimes like to lick humans just to get the salty flavor off of the skin.
On the other hand, you might have something on your skin that is tasty to your cat, and they might be trying to lick it off and eat it. If you’ve just recently eaten and your cat is licking your hand, they may taste the food. Just be careful not to let your cat lick you if you’ve recently applied topical medication or lotion, as these could be dangerous.
Anxiety and Nervous Habits
Cats sometimes develop a nervous habit of licking themselves or others when they feel stressed or anxious. This usually happens in cats who have a lot of anxiety already; for example, if your cat has separation anxiety and gets upset when they’re left alone for very long, they may develop nervous habits such as licking you frequently.
It’s important to figure out the underlying cause of your cat’s anxiety. They may be stressed from changes in your household such as a new baby, new pets, or a recent move, or they might be upset about something else entirely. If you can’t remove the stressor from their life, they may need anxiety medication in severe cases.
Of course, there are some cats who will lick their humans “just because,” without any deeper reason. After all, just like humans, cats may have different personality traits and habits, and some of them may be fonder of licking humans than others.
If you have a cat who loves to lick you and you’re sure it’s not because of the other reasons listed here, then there may be no real explanation for the behavior. This might just be part of who your cat is!
As you can see, most causes of cats licking their humans don’t require a trip to the veterinarian. However, there are a few issues, such as stress and anxiety, that might need a little extra vet attention to resolve. If you think your cat is dealing with one of these issues, be sure to take them to the vet. Call us today at (662) 234-4336.
Otherwise, you might just need to recognize that you have a licker on your hands—and learn to enjoy the attention from your feline friend!
Welcome to Bottletree Animal Hospital, your family-friendly veterinarian in Oxford. We are a team of animal lovers who are passionate about veterinary excellence. We love working closely with you and your pet to help us learn more about your furry friend, their lifestyle, and their needs.