When it comes to behaviour, there are many things your cat does that are just adorable (like snuggling with you on the couch), others that are just funny or just too weird. But there is a behaviour in particular which combines these three characteristics: when cats lick us.
If your cat never misses an opportunity to lick you, you are probably wondering “But why is my cat licking me?” We instinctively know that these behaviours are positive and that they indicate good feelings, but have you ever wondered why? Is it a sign of affection? Is she trying to clean me? Is she hungry and confuses me with a giant kibble?”
1. Attraction to the smell
The smell of food, a plant, cream or even your hormones can cause your cat to lick you. Besides, licking you is a way to share her smell and mark you as her “belonging”. Cats are very territorial animals and a real control freaks.
Similarly, when the cat suddenly starts to pee all over the house. In this case, she must have smelled a new odour of another cat, and then she feels the need to carry out territory marking again.
This marking can be done by scraping or rubbing the furniture or peeing all over the place.
Licking is a very common way of communication between cats. They lick each other to make peace after an argument, to establish their social status, to encourage play or to develop friendly relations.
Since your feline friend considers you as part of her social group, it is normal that she also uses her language to communicate. It’s just another way of interacting with you.
Cats also know how to express their love! Licking is an attachment behaviour between the mother and her kitten. When the kittens grow up, they do the same behaviour to show their affection. In this case, your cat is trying to tell you how happy she is with you.
If your cat licks you, do not hesitate to show her a little affection in return.
4. Demands attention
Cats are independent animals, but they still need attention! If a cat feels neglected, there are many ways to demand it, including licking.
Do you notice that your cat tends to lick you when you are busy or distracted? Then this may indicate that she needs a few minutes of exclusive attention from you, a little quality time spent in your company.
Do you feel like your cat is compulsively licking you? Do you feel like your cat is licking you because she is nervous or scared? Do you think that once she starts to lick you, she can’t stop? If so, it may be because your cat is feeling anxious, stressed, or upset. Does your cat also bite? Check here what do.
6. Taste something on you
If you’ve got some spills or stains from foods or drinks, this can trigger your cat to lick you. Either to taste it or to clean you. The cat’s tongue is a central organ with many functions. It is rich in keratin and of great use for your cat. It allows her to easily extract food by licking a surface and serve as a comb to remove impurities from her coat.
When should you worry?
If your cat starts to lick you uncontrollably, or refuses to stop even when you try to redirect her attention to something else, consult a veterinarian. They will help you understand what is behind your cat’s behaviour and help you train your cat to stop licking.