Why does my cat keep licking me?

Have you ever sat there and wondered, ‘Why does my cat lick me?’

There’s a number of reasons our felines love to lick us. And most of them are to do with showing their affection. 

It’s one of the ways a cat can look to create a close bond with their pet parent. This could be linked to their own mother grooming them when they were a small, vulnerable kitten, and they’re now exhibiting the same loving behavior to show you that you’re part of their family. 

Alternatively, the occasional lick here and there could simply be because they’re after a little bit of attention, or maybe they just enjoy the taste.

Is it okay for my cat to lick me?

First of all, there’s nothing strange about a cat who loves to lick. This is completely normal behavior to them, and for the most part, there’s no risk attached to a loving ‘tongue bath’ from your feline. 

Cats do carry bacteria in their mouths though, which can lead to an infection if they happen to pass over an open wound. Picking up a disease from your cat is extremely rare, but to be on the safe side, we’d advise that they steer clear of your face or any cuts. 

We’re all different, and while some pet parents won’t mind the sandpapery feel of their cat’s tongue scraping along their skin, for some it’s a complete no-no.

If you do want to put a stop to your cat’s excessive licking, then you need to adopt a patient approach. 

Under no circumstances should you shout, punish or push them away. They won’t understand what it is they’re doing wrong, and this could result in severe stress or anxiety. Instead, try using the art of distraction to discourage a tongue-happy feline. Cat food puzzles, grooming, or time with their favorite toy should hopefully help shift focus.

5 reasons why your cat likes to lick you

  1. Creating a bond. We’ve already touched upon this, but of all the possible cat-licking theories this is probably the one that holds the most water. When cats are grouped together, they will sometimes begin grooming each other as a way, first and foremost, to lend a paw, but also to form a bond with their companions. Given the close relationship we have with our felines, it makes sense that they would express their affection for us in a similar manner.
  2. They want some attention. Sometimes our felines just want to let us know they’re there – as if we need reminding. With a gentle sweep of the tongue, they’ll instantly have your attention, and if you respond in kind with a soft pet on their back, or even a treat, then it won’t be long before they’re ‘attacking’ you with their tongue again.
  3. Is your cat stressed or anxious? It doesn’t take much to spook some felines. A new pet, a change in routine, even a change in diet; any one of these can have a negative impact on a cat’s mental wellbeing. There are a number of symptoms that can accompany cat stress or anxiety, and excessive licking is one of these. If you’re struggling to identify the stressor your cat is taking issue with, speak with a vet who should be able to help you get to the bottom of the problem.
  4. Your cat is grooming you. Cats are one of nature’s great groomers. They will spend hours each and every week licking their fur, keeping themselves clean. As grooming comes so naturally to felines – and they most likely won’t ever see you licking your own skin – this could be their way of giving you a good ‘clean’, just like mother cats groom their kittens.
  5. They love the way you taste. Now, we’re not saying your skin tastes as nice as one of Reveal’s Chicken Breast With Cheese In Broth Cans, but some cats might like licking us simply because they enjoy it. Your sweat contains salt and sugar which could be appealing to felines, while lotions and perfumes also offer up an aromatic allure. We would recommend covering up any parts of the skin where you have applied these fragrances, just in case your cat has an adverse reaction.

Should I speak to a vet about excessive licking?

Allowing your cat to lick you or not is entirely a personal choice.  

Most pet owners don’t mind the occasional tongue dab, but constant attempts to groom you can become a little irritating, even a little painful. 

While licking is normal cat behavior, excessive licking may be related to an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition. 

Keep them under close observation. Contact your vet if the compulsive behavior persists, or other symptoms begin to present.

Share this article