Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

Cat liking human finger.

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Does your cat ever lick you? Have you ever wondered why they do it?

Cats aren’t exactly notorious for their outward affection. We humans tend to think that when one of our pets licks us, it’s the equivalent of a “kiss,” and it is a way to show love.

While love and adoration may be one reason why your cat is licking you, here are several other reasons as to why you may be receiving sandpaper kisses.

They’re Marking You

cat licking human's nose

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Cats use licking as a means of marking territory. Licking you marks you with your kitty’s unique scent, establishing the fact that you are their human.

Mama cats lick their kittens as a means of showing the world they are hers, and your cat could be doing the same thing to you.

Cats and kittens will lick each other as a way of social bonding, and you are being accepted and welcomed into your cat’s inner circle.

You Need To Be Clean

cat licking hand

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Once your cat has established that you belong to them, they may continue to lick you in attempt to groom you.

Mother cats also use licking as a means of cleaning their kittens, and your cat is continuing the tradition their mother taught them.

If your cat is licking you as a means of grooming, you should be honored, as that shows how comfortable and secure they feel around you.

You Are A Pacifier Substitute

cat licking finger

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Cats who are weaned too early or were orphaned are prone to developing oral fixations that make them excessive lickers.

They missed out on the weaning process at a young, pivotal stage, so they may have some leftover licking and suckling habits as a result.

Your Cat Is Anxious

cat with tongue out

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Excessive licking from your cat can also be a sign of anxiety. Some cats may even lick themselves—or your arm–bald due to excessive stress and anxiety.

If your cat seems to be licking and grooming due to anxiety or stress, pinpoint what the source of anxiety is and remove it. If it is not that simple or you can’t identify an obvious trigger, talk to your vet about anxiety treatments.

How To Curb Your Cat’s Licking

cat licking finger

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An occasional kiss from your cat is nice, but having your worn raw by the rough texture of your cat’s tongue is not.

If your cat can’t seem to stop licking you, there are several ways you can deter them from the behavior. Try distracting your cat with some interactive play or with some play-inducing cat nip.

If your cat still can’t seem to stop licking you, reprimanding will likely not help. Their licking is natural and for the most part, a sign of affection or bonding.

If distraction methods don’t work, try giving your cat a nice, deep massage. Reciprocating the affection in this fashion can help curb any compulsive need to mark you, because you are showing them how much you care, as well.

A behaviorist, trainer, or veterinarian can give you advice for identifying the causes and correcting the behavior if all else fails.

Is your cat an excessive licker? Do you mind it? Let us know in the comments.