There are several reasons why cats lick their owners. We’ll discuss the 5 most common reasons why cats lick in this article. We’ll talk about what to do if your cat is licking excessively, and how to stop your cat from licking you if it’s annoying!
Why Do Cats Lick People?
1. They’re grooming you. Cats are very clean animals (one reason why is noted in #4). Also, grooming each other is one of the ways cats bond with each other. Your cat licking/grooming you could very well be just a sign of affection.
2. They need more attention or are lonely. Your cat might just need more bonding time with you. If your cat is licking you excessively, you might try brushing them more often. It may be the bonding time they’re looking for. Also, if a kitten is removed from their mother too soon, they may start licking their owner to replicate the act of suckling. Evidence of this is if the kitten is also purring and kneading while they’re licking you.
3. They want what you’re eating. Cats might lick your fingers, your face or your clothing for traces of food.
4. They’re protecting you. In the wild, cats will bathe after eating to eliminate the evidence of food to protect themselves from predators. So it’s possible the cat is licking you (especially after you eat) to protect you.
5. Anxiety. Cats may start grooming excessively when they’re under stress, and that might include grooming you. Cats will get anxious when there are big changes such as a move or adding someone to the household. But you might be surprised at some of the things that can stress your cat out. For more information about this, read my article, Cat Stress Relievers – 10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out (includes video).
Ways to Stop Your Cat from Licking You
Here are some tips that might help:
- Put on a long sleeve shirt when you’re near your cat.
- If your cat starts licking you, move away from the cat. This will stop their habit of licking if they’re doing it for attention. Just make sure you’re giving your cat praise and attention when they’re not licking.
- Try distracting the cat by tossing a toy or treat.
- Make sure your cat has enough to do. You should provide a variety of toys for your cat, including interactive cat toys. Also provide a scratching post and something to sit high upon, like a perch or cat tree. Also make sure you’re playing with your cat for at least 15 minutes three times every day.
If your cat is licking, then biting you, read my article, How to Train Your Cat to Stop Biting (includes video).
Cats might start licking you or objects around them due to a medical issue. If they’re having pain, discomfort or nausea, they may start licking. If your cat starts licking suddenly or is licking excessively, you should call the vet.
Also, as we’ve mentioned, your cat may be suffering from anxiety if they’re licking excessively or if your attempts to minimize the licking don’t work. Call your vet if you think your cat may be having anxiety.
You shouldn’t let your cat lick you if you have something on your skin like ointment or a cream or lotion you wouldn’t want your cat to eat. As for your own safety, know that there can be rare but possible risks to letting your cat lick you. Cats carry bacteria in their mouths, so you don’t want them to lick an open wound. If you’re worried about catching a disease from your cat (very rare), don’t let them lick your face or cuts on your skin.
If you feel you need more help with your cat’s behavior, I can recommend a very good resource for cat training called, Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable ebook that is jam-packed with information on how to solve 25 real-life cat behavior problems. It includes the best cat training techniques and step-by-step instructions. This program is $37 and comes with a full money-back guarantee.
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