Some pet owners love it, while others can't stand the feeling of being licked by a cat. Their little sandpaper tongues start to hurt after a few licks. Is your kitty companion just showing affection or is this behavior something you should be concerned about? If you've been wondering “why does my cat lick me,” there are a few possible answers.
I have six cats, and only two of them frequently lick me. This got me thinking about why some cats lick their humans and others don't. I'm a curious pet owner, and enjoy knowing as much about my pets' behavior as possible. If you're like me, you probably question most of the things that your pets do.
While researching this topic, I found out that there are a number of reasons why your cat may lick you. It's likely that this strange behavior isn't anything to be concerned about. While it may be annoying, it's probably just your cats way of showing affection or trying to get your attention. In rare cases, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. Keep reading to answering the question “why does my cat lick me” and find out how to make him stop.
Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
The most obvious answer to the question why does my cat lick me is that your cat is simply trying to show affection and/or bond with you. Mother cats lick their kittens to clean and care for them or to show affection. It's your cat's natural instinct to show you affection in the same manner.
2. Marking His Territory
Cats, like most other animals are territorial. They like to mark things that are “theirs”. In some cases, your cat may lick you to show other animals or humans in your home that you belong to him. If you notice that your cat frequently licks you when you're in close proximately to other animals/humans, it could be that he's just marking his territory.
3. Anxiety or Stress
Many animals will lick when stressed or anxious. This behavior is seen in rats, dogs cats and many other animals. This may be the case with your cats licking behavior, especially if it has started spontaneously or isn't observed very often.
Cats can be easily stressed by changes in their environment. If possible, find the source of the stress and remove it. If the licking has started spontaneously and you can't find any source of stress or anxiety, I would recommend checking in with your veterinarian just to be on the safe side.
When your cat licks you, you probably respond by showing him some sort of attention. You may pet him, talk sweetly or snuggle him when he begins to lick you. Over time, this attention will condition your cat to lick you in order to receive your undivided attention.
If this is the case, you can stop the behavior by doing the opposite of what you would normally do. When you cat licks you, ignore the behavior. Move away from him without speaking, touching him or showing any kind of attention. Over time, this will condition your cat to understand that licking will only push you away.
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Kittens who are taken from their mothers too early will often display some strange behaviors like frequent licking. Kittens knead and suckle their mothers for comfort. Their mothers lick them to comfort and clean them. If your kitten is longing for the affection of their mother, they may lick you to try to find that same comfort.
If your young kitten is licking you and they seem to be especially clingy, it is likely that they were weaned from their mother too quickly. This behavior should subside over time.
6. You Taste Yummy
This is a pretty obvious answer to the question why does my cat lick me. Your cat may like the salty taste of your skin. You may have lotion, topical products or food remnants on your skin that are appealing. Washing your hands should stop the behavior if this is the case.
7. Medical Problem
It's not likely, but licking you could be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Nausea or stomach pain could cause your cat to lick. If the licking starts spontaneously or seems to get excessive quickly, it's best to check in with your veterinarian. As I said, this is not a likely cause of licking, but it is possible. It would be better to have your cat checked by your vet just to be sure that everything is fine.
If the licking behavior annoys you, it's easy to get your cat to stop. Ignore the behavior. Walk away from your cat when he begins to lick. Cover your skin when possible with long sleeves or pants. You can also try to distract your cat by playing with him or offering him a snack.
You'll need to be patient, because the behavior won't stop over night. But, over time, your cat will begin to learn that you don't enjoy this behavior and he will stop. Keep in mind that if the licking is caused by stress or a medical condition, you'll need to treat the underlying cause before the behavior will subside.