Surely your cat spends a good part of his time licking himself, and if you live with more than one cat, you will have seen that they also groom each other. It is estimated that a domestic cat can spend between 30 and 50% of his day grooming.
But there is another behavior that generates curiosity: when your cat licks you. Not all cats do it, but why are there cats that lick their humans (I don’t like to call them “owners”)?
The tongue and the lick
The tongue of the cat is a very important and very versatile organ for the pussycat. It is rough due to the spike effect of its conical papillae.
And the pussy uses it with various objectives: as a brush, to remove dead skin and hair in the grooming, to eat, to hunt, to detect flavors, etc.
That is why we see that cats spend all day licking, brushing, removing leftover hairs, etc. and repeat that custom with your feline companions, if they have them.
Sometimes, they even lick other things like cotton, plastic, bedding, etc. Unfortunately, this habit of licking materials can go further (when the cat also ingests the materials) and becomes a problem. This occurs in cats with pica, for example.
In case the cat is licking too much, you should check the reason with the veterinarian.
Many cats lick themselves hard and even hurting themselves when they are stressed, or following a pathology that causes that effect. You have to differentiate between a normal lick and a lick that can be harmful or a sign that something is wrong.
If the reason for the excess of licking is more of the behavioral type, the veterinarian will surely refer you to a feline behavior expert who can guide you.
Why can your cat lick you?
There are several reasons that I explain below, but when cats lick their humans, it is usually for positive behavior.
We humans don’t always take it as such anyway, even because our cat’s lick may be annoying.
That is why it is important to know the possible reasons why your cat licks you, and thus act accordingly:
- To get your attention: sometimes cats use licks or even some love bite type bite to pay attention to. This can happen as a timely fact to ask for food or to play with it. But other times it may be due to a more serious reason, such as when the cat is suffering an episode of stress; In those cases, it is usually a more “aggressive” and sudden lick, and you should take the cat to the veterinarian to determine the reason.
- To create social bond: from very young, the kittens of the same litter groom each other, and when they become adults and live with other cats, they continue to do so. Especially in those complicated areas of arriving by oneself: the upper part of the head, inside the ears … This cleaning is part of the way of relating, so when your cat licks you, it includes you in its social group.
- To exchange aromas: another reason related to the previous one is that the smell of the cat’s saliva is strong and characteristic, and the pussy impregnates you with it to make an exchange of aromas and recognize you — a kind of territory marking.
- To “savor you”: this can happen when food has fallen on you, you have a cream or product that catches your eye, you’ve been touching something that appeals to you, etc. If, for example, you just caught a piece of fish, it is possible that the pussy catches that smell and that’s why it licks you. Sometimes it is not necessary that any of that has happened, but the very salty taste of our sweat can attract them.
- To show affection: this is usually one of the most frequent reasons for the punctual licking of cats. Cats lick each other as a sign of affection, and the same towards their humans. Often this behavior occurs at a time when the cat is calm and feels in its comfort zone.
- To play: in the same way that kittens do this ritual frequently among themselves and with their mommy when your cat licks you softly in the middle of a game, it’s like telling you that it’s okay and that he’s having a good time with you.
My cat licks me, what do I do?
If you have a small kitten, these licking games and small bites are more likely, but there are also many adult cats that do.
As long as it is normal behavior that is not the result of a stressful situation or that can cause damage, it is best to enjoy these licks of love. After all, it is a symbol of closeness between you and your cat.
Now, there are people who are bothered when their cat licks him. In those cases, it is best to be patient and not act with anger or anger since the pussycat will not understand that reaction to something positive that he is sharing with you.
If you look at your cat, you may be able to detect signs before the lick, and when you see what they are giving you, avoid him coming to lick you with some distraction or offering him something else he likes (a prize, for example).
In our case, we have not left two very licking cats towards us, they do show their affection in many other ways, but the most common is not licking.
Anyway, especially Kato, yes he ever licks us to test us if we have touched something, and also very punctually as one more affection, Conxa is still less to lick, but as we explained, it is more of love bites.
And when they lick us as a sign of affection, we accept it with a lot of love, and we love it, probably because it happens so few times that we enjoy it to the fullest.