Why Do Cats Lick Us?

Many cat owners have often asked the question:  why does my cat lick me?  Your cat may lick you simply because it likes you, or the licking may indicate an underlying condition that needs to be checked into.

Is Cat Licking Normal?

Studies have shown that cats generally spend 8% of their time awake licking and grooming themselves and an estimated 50% of their time napping.  When putting this into perspective, in general, it is normal behavior for cats to lick.

Anyone who has received a good licking from their cat knows that their tongue is like having sandpaper rubbed against your skin.  Cat’s tongues have this rough feeling due to the tiny, backward-facing spines referred to as papillae.  These spines serve to aid in the removal of dirt and loose fur hairs from your cat’s coat and provide saliva to help in keeping your cat cool.

Why Do Cats Lick Us?

Although the ruling is still out on why cats lick us, there are a few working theories out there to consider.

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When your cat lick’s you, it may be expressing affection towards you.  Cats will groom their kittens, and cats will even groom their fellow feline companions—this is referred to as allogrooming.  Grooming in this manner helps to strengthen social bonds, so the theory is that your cat grooms you to strengthen and nurture your relationship to them.

Seeking Attention

Very early on, your cat may have learned through trial and error that when they lick you, the result is additional attention from you.  You may not have fully realized it at the time, but when your cat licked you, you may have reciprocated by way of interacting with them—by either talking to or petting them.

Medical Issue

Your cat may lick you or other items in its environment because it is experiencing pain, nausea, or discomfort.  If your cat started licking recently, and it seems excessive, it is best to have them evaluated by a veterinarian professional.