Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
25 September, 2012
We all know that cats lick themselves as part of their grooming (which we love) but sometimes it is difficult to decipher why our cats lick us. When your cat licks you, she’s doing what her or his mother did when she was a kitten… providing a good cleaning that also speaks of caring and belonging. You’ve seen cats licking each other, helping in the grooming, especially around the hard-to-reach ears and top of the head.
Below are some reasons why your cat licks you!
Cats Lick out of Necessity and Kindness
Some experts believe that orphaned kittens or those weaned too early from their mothers and litter mates develop oral behaviors such as sucking and licking, and exhibit these babyish habits into adulthood. But as with so much about cats, that’s a generalization. Licking is a comforting, soothing sensation to cats and it feels like the gentle stroking of your hands petting them. If a cat licks you, she’s returning that favor: She figures, who wouldn’t enjoy being petted and assured of affection?
Being licked is the first tactile experience your cat remembers as her mom had done so by rubbing her coat, ears and every part of her little body. A mother cat initially washes her babies to remove the afterbirth fluids and to stimulate the kittens’ breathing. She’ll also clean them whenever they return to her as the mother firmly re-establishes her scent on them.
For cats both male and female, licking is a social exchange as well as a rite of cleanliness. Cats groom each other to remove dirt and share scents, just as cats scratch in a favorite place where the scent glands of their paw pads will mark the territory as their own. When your cat licks you, she’s cleaning you up and claiming you, just as she would for a feline friend or litter mate.
If you have an older cat that has never shown his or her affection and your feline friend begins licking you or your clothing, pay close attention to this change in behavior. Cats that start vigorously licking themselves may be seeking relief from a skin irritation, fleas, an insect bite or an infection. Help soothe your kitten by examining her skin and fur for problems and, of course, ask your vet to recommend the right treatment.
If your cat’s licking is not related to an illness and it bothers you, (such as constantly on your face) do not punish your feline friend for this normal behavior. Try gently discouraging your cat by moving away from her or him away when she starts licking. If you put lemon juice on your arms or hands, this is an immediate turn-off. Better yet, offer your cat a toy to lavish her affection or just pet your cat continuously assuring her that you love her even if you don’t like the licking.
Personally, I love the feeling of being licked, as it shows me that my Sammy really cares!
We love our cats, even if they don’t always ‘meow’ their affection but they certainly show it.