As humans, we tend to associate licking with love. So, when our feline friends lick us, our first thought is that they are doing it out of love. But how true is that assumption? Well, it is one of the reasons why our cats could lick us. But there could be much more than that if we look at the bigger picture. There could be a variety of reasons for why cats lick us and we will be looking at the most accepted reasonings behind that. If you were looking for the answer to the question of why do cats lick you, then this post is for you. So, let’s begin looking at some of the reasons why our cats love to lick us.
Why Do Cats Lick You?
1. Early Childhood
Cats were licked by their mothers when they were kittens. This is how the mother cat should her kitties love and affection. This was also how they used to groom their kitties. So, licking you is her way of showing affection for you and it might be her attempt to groom you. They use tongues instead of paws to groom each other. This behavior may not only be limited to you but to other animals as well. So, this is her way of petting way and showing you that you are a member of her family and that she trusts you completely and feels safe with you. If it is followed by a bite and you are wondering why do cats lick you then bite you, then it could very well be a love bite and it is the cat’s why of showing its love and affection for you. It could also lick your hair which is learned behavior from her mother. If you want to know why do cats lick your hair, it is their way of grooming you and it is their attempt to make sure that you are looking your absolute best.
2. Marking Territory
It is in the nature of many animals to mark the territory. Licking is one of the ways that cats can mark the area and objects by spreading their scent and declaring it’s their property. This is their sweet attempt to keep the interlopers away. Mother cats used to do this to her kitties to mark her property and your cat is doing the same to you. This is a form of social bonding for cats and they will lick you to show that they are establishing a social bond with you. This is completely normal and no reason for worry. However, if you have more than one pet, then this may cause problems with the other animals in your house. So, watch out for this type of behavior if you have more than one pet. Sometimes it may lick on your nose and if you want to know what does it mean when a cat licks your nose, the answer is that it is marking you as a member of its family.
3. Self-Soothing Behavior
Cats that were orphaned at an early age may develop oral fixation. This causes them to become excessive lickers. They missed out on their fair share of suckling time and licking is a close substitute to replicate that soothing feeling they have had with the mother. This early weaning may be the reason why do cats lick you, especially it is accompanied by a purr or a smile on the cat’s face.
If you find your fluffy friend licking you a little too often it could be a sign that your cat is stressed out. It is common behavior to lick things a lot if they are under stress. Since you have high chances of spending a lot of time with your cat, try to determine the cause of worry of your cat and remove it. This is a sign for you that she needs to be petted or cuddled. If this doesn’t stop easily and after trying these simple tricks, it is time to pay your vet a visit for the health of your cat.
Why Does it Hurt?
If you have been licked by your cat for some time now, you probably don’t enjoy the feeling. Because it hurts a lot, especially if they keep licking the same place over and over. The reason that it hurts so much is because of the presence of papillae in their tongues. Papillae are made of keratin and this is the same substance that is found in their claws. This is why the tongue of your cat feels like sandpaper to you. Even though we don’t like it these back-facing barbs on your cat’s tongue is useful for the cats. This helps them to separate meat from bones and it helps them to remove dirt and fur and staying well-groomed.
How to Stop Your Cat Licking You?
While it could be painful for us to be licked, the first step to understand is that the cat has a good reason to us. So, empathizing with them and understanding why do cats lick you are the first step to get them to stop licking you. And your cat has no idea that it is hurting you. It would probably stop on its own if it had that knowledge. And while we may enjoy the lick occasionally, it can be painful for us if it happens all the time. So, the solution here is to discourage your cat from licking you. It is best in a way to do it so that they don’t feel unwanted or unloved. Distraction is the best way to get your stop to lick you. Initially, try to play with your cat. Use cat toys you as a means of distraction. It doesn’t matter if it is catnips, wands, or other toys. Use the cat toys you have to divert the attention of cats.
Another way of distracting your cat is to give it food. Giving your cat food will surely encourage them to stop licking as they will probably enjoy the delicious food a lot more than licking you. However, try to keep this under limit because overdoing this will result in your cat overeating. This can cause long term problems in the health of your cat. And use food only as your last option. If you do that all the time, your cats will link licking you with food and that will result in even more problems. So, always try playing with them first and offer them treats once in a while. And please don’t punish them for doing what comes naturally to them. Empathize with them, understand them, and ensure that they are living a happy and healthy life.