You don’t think twice when an exuberant dog tries to lick your face, but when your cat offers you some feline kisses, is she actually showing you affection, or is there something else going on here? Some kitties give their owners a few licks here and there, while others pin you down and lick with sandpaper tongues until your skin is raw. The reasons for this behavior are varied, and may or may not require action on your part.
What it Means When Your Cat Licks You
Here are some of the most common reasons why cats lick their owners:
- Reliving kittenhood: Your cat may lick you because she remembers being licked by her mother as a kitten. The action comes naturally if your cat is as comfortable with you as she was with her mother.
- Affection: Sometimes, cat licking goes back to the reason dogs lick their owners: pure and simple affection. Your cat loves you, so she does to you what she knows feels good to her.
- Ownership: When a mother cat licks her kittens, she’s claiming them as her own. Your cat may be doing the same to you, leaving her scent on your skin as a way to claim ownership.
- Social bonding: Kittens of the same litter and adult cats that get along well often groom each other as a form of social bonding. Your kitty may simply be trying to bond with you through licking.
- Comfort: To a cat, licking is as comforting as petting. She may lick you to calm herself or to extend comfort if she senses that you’re stressed.
- Anxiety: Cats sometimes lick compulsively when they become anxious or stressed. This is a sure sign that she needs a little extra love and attention.
How to Stop Your Cat from Licking You
Getting a few kitty kisses is nice, and it’s heartwarming to know your cat loves you, but if she becomes obsessive about licking, try these tips to curb the behavior:
- Show your cat love: Never scold or push your cat away for doing what comes naturally to her because this could damage your relationship. Instead, give your cat the attention she’s most likely begging for. Pet her in her favorite places to help her relax and really get that purr motor going.
- Distract your cat: Grab a favorite toy or some catnip and distract your feline with some playtime. Hopefully, she’ll be less inclined to lick your skin raw when she sees the mouse toy scurrying across the floor.
- Redirect the licking: Perhaps your cat has licked your elbow raw, but another part of your arm could use a little exfoliation. Gradually cover the spot you don’t want to have licked and redirect your cat’s attention to a different area.
Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy with Regular Vet Visits
If you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior, the team at Germantown Vet can give you some personalized advice. Even if you aren’t bothered by your cat licking you, be sure to schedule regular visits with our cat veterinarian in Germantown. We offer all the preventative care, diagnostic services, and treatments your cat might need from kittenhood until she’s a senior.
To schedule an appointment for your cat, please call our Montgomery County vet clinic at 240-252-7467 today.