Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

Updated: August 03, 2022

" If you have wondered, why does my cat bite me then lick me, then your cat is attempting to groom you."

Most pet parents find it adorable when your cat licks you. But, you might wonder, Why does my cat lick me? It is a common question but the reasons are not common knowledge to all. So, what does it mean when your cat licks you? There are a number of different reasons why do cats lick you and we are here to tell you all about it.

Why Do Cats Lick You?

What does it mean when your cat licks you? The reasons a cat licks might vary due to the situation and your cat’s specific habits. Here are some of the most common reasons why your cat might be licking you.

Creating Social Bonds

One of the possible reasons why your cats lick you is because they are creating a social bond with you. Cats replicate the behavior of when their mother cat would lick them not only to groom them but also to bond with them as kittens. Cats and their relationship to their pet parents is an attachment with mutual affection and deep emotional bonding. It just so happens that it is innate in cats to create social bonds by licking!

Showing and Seeking Affection

Another possible answer to every pet parent’s “Why does my cat lick me” question is because licking is also your cat’s way of showing and seeking affection. This can happen not only to you but also to other people and animals. However, when your cat begins to lick other animals, keep them under your supervision. Some animals may not like being licked and can react out of fear, irritation, or aggression. It is also possible for animals to carry contagious diseases that may be transferred to your furbaby through direct contact.


why does my cat lick my face, what does it mean when a cat licks you

Licking may also be your cat’s way of telling you they want to cuddle with you, want to play with you, begging for treats, or letting you know that it is time to clean their litter box. If you notice this behavior and respond according, giving them pets for example, this will also reinforce it.

Soothing Stress and Anxiety

Why do cats lick you when they get scared? A common reason why your cat licks you is that they are trying to soothe their stress and anxiety. It is common for animals, particularly cats and dogs, to lick excessively whenever they are stressed and anxious.

Aside from excessive licking, a stressed or anxious cat may also exhibit excessive vocalizations, excessive scratching, accidents, and other signs of stress.

Cats Lick to Mark Territories

Cats mark territories to let other cats and animals know what belongs to them. They use the scent glands in their cheeks, feet, and tails to mark things. Cats also lick to mark. If your furbaby sees you as their own, they will begin licking you, making you a part of their clowder. This is your cat telling you that you belong to them. PAWS Chicago notes that a cat has more than 200 million odor senses in their nose, making it 14 times more powerful than yours. So even if you do not actually smell any scent on the area where they licked you, your furbaby does. They will think you smell good because they marked on you.

Marking pet parents is a normal behavior in cats but a potential problem arises when you have a number of cats at home and all of them are marking you. Curb your cats’ aggressive territorial behavior as early as possible if you have multiple pets or family members that your cat seems to be competing with.

Grooming You

Why does my cat lick me then bite me? Cats are known to be great groomers. If you have wondered, why does my cat bite me then lick me, then your cat is attempting to groom you. Their tongues contain numerous spines or papillae that make the surface rough, making it easier to grab onto the fur and brush it through. Sometimes, your cat’s grooming behavior can extend to you and other family members. So your cat may lick and bite at you or your hair to attempt to help groom you. Your furbaby has never seen you lick yourself clean, so they may think you need a lesson in basic hygiene and grooming.

Your cat licking you may also be because they find your smell or taste interesting, like an appetizing shampoo scent, a topical product you just applied, or even your sweat as this contains various sugars and salts that your cat might find appealing. Just make sure to not let them lick you if you have recently gotten in contact with substances that may harm your furbaby, like lotions, scented soaps, etc.

Showing Signs of Being Weaned Too Early

Long-term stress can occur in young cats that have been separated too early from their moms. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that cats should be at least 8 weeks old before they can be weaned or transferred to another owner.

A cat that has been weaned too early may express their stress and frustrations by kneading, sucking on blankets, and excessively licking anything that feels soft to them—yes, your skin, fingers, or earlobes included.

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How to Discourage a Cat From Licking You

While there is nothing harmful when your cats lick you, it can become a trouble if they begin doing it all the time, considering a cat’s tongue full of spines or papillae. Sometimes licking can hurt a bit. So, some pet parents push their cats away when they start licking which can make their cats feel rejected.

To avoid making your cat feel bad, using a distraction is a good idea. Distractions, like cat enrichment toys. You can use a snuffle mat for cats to encourage your cat to stop licking you because they have some other fun things to do. Since cats are easily distracted by tasty treats, place a few in the Forager™ Mat or Forager™ Bowl. Your cat will use their senses to find the treats and get excellent mental enrichment all while keeping them occupied. You can also use some of their dry food from their meal instead of treats in the snuffle mat to avoid giving too many calories.

If your cat seems to be licking you from stress or anxiety, you can provide them with a Pawtect® Blanket. These waterproof, durable blankets are super soft and will offer them security and comfort and may distract them from licking you.

Why does my cat lick me? What does it mean when cats lick you? Well, a cat licking their pet parent is caused by several reasons. However, getting licked by your cat is not a cause of harm unless your furbaby is licking you more than they should and is displaying unusual behaviors. Talk to your vet. Your vet will be able to give you guidance on figuring out what exactly causes your cat to lick you and give you more accurate ways on how to curb this licking behavior.

"You can use a snuffle mat for cats to encourage your cat to stop licking you because they have some other fun things to do."