Why Does My Cat Lick Me?


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Oh! Most owners will definitely swoon seeing their cat’s adorable pink tongue sticking out— whether she drinks water or grooms herself delicately.

But when that tiny, cute tongue starts licking you, you might think otherwise.

Why You Don’t Want Your Cat Licking You

It’s no secret:

Excessive cat licking can start to hurt. But why?

A cat’s tongue has these special back-facing “barbs” called papillae. These tiny barbs are actually made of the very same material as your cat’s sharp claws. This is why cat’s tongue feels like rough sandpaper.

The barbs are actually crucial when your feline buddy grooms herself. It removes debris and dirt from your cat’s coat, making them clean and dirt-free.

And although most of us enjoy an occasional lick from our feline friend, it can start to hurt when she does it all the time and in only one area.

Reasons Why Your Cat Licks You

1. Signs of Affection and Bond

In the very same way that you show your love and affection to your feline buddy by petting and nuzzling with it, your cat may also try to return the affection by licking you. Kittens, in particular, will use licking to show affection the way humans might use a hug.

If your feline buddy loves to lick you, then it probably means that it’s asking for affection in return and is a way of strengthening her bond with you. And honestly, this is one of the best parts of having a cat around.

2. Anxiety

Some cats will lick and groom themselves in order to relieve anxiety. And in some cases, this may result in bald patches. And, of course, you’re not safe. Your cat may also lick you as a way of calming herself and reducing her anxiety.

If you notice bald spots or thinning hair on your cat, then consider talking to your vet since there might be an underlying medical cause or your feline buddy might be experiencing stress.

When your cat licks you in a body posture that appears nervous, tense or it goes on for long periods, then it may indicate an attempt to self-calming.

3. Marking Territory

Cats use pheromones in order to mark their territory. Although most people know that cats mark their property and territory by urinating on things, they can also mark in other ways as well.

Head rubs and licking are ways for cats to claim you as part of their territory or property— affectionately. When your cat rubs or likes you, it is a reaffirming that you are special to her and wants all other cats to know.

If you ever notice that other cats sometimes shy away from you, it is highly possible that they smell that you already belong to another cat.

4. Seeing You As Incapable

There are some bizarre ways of how cats behave towards their humans. For instance, some cats usually leave dead birds or mice on their owner’s doorsteps, sometimes in bed, in an attempt to share their treat. Some cats also present their owners with live animals in an attempt to teach their owner to hunt.

These examples show how cats see their owner as a part of their family but also seeing them as incompetent at being cats. Female felines, in particular, exhibit this sort of nurturing type or parenting behavior.

And when they start to lick you, it can mean that they’re attempting to teach you on how to groom yourself. This is a memory that your cat had when it was being licked by its own mother and is a true sign of affection.

In addition, cats are quite attentive to their owner’s mood, so you might get more licking when you are stressed or sick. Cats will attempt to calm you in the same way that you would pet her is she seemed nervous.

5. An Interesting Taste

Spilled something on your feet? Well, do not be surprised to find your cat siding next to you in order to get a taste. Sometimes, however, it does not take a spill for this to be true. Cats may also enjoy licking the salt which naturally builds up on your skin.

Stopping Excessive Licking

Although you might want the affectionate licking, that cute tongue can actually start to be annoying, especially if it’s for a long period of time. So, how do you make it stop without jeopardizing your bond and relationship?

Consider using toys to redirect her attention. Or you can use your head to nuzzle and cuddle or even pet her so that she will just enjoy the petting and forget about the licking.

If that does not work, you can just walk away when it becomes excessive, causing your cat to associate licking you with you running from her.  

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