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Why Do Cats Lick You? Should You Be Concerned If It Happens?

Why Do Cats Lick You? Should You Be Concerned If It Happens?

It is not uncommon to see cats licking each other, this is a clear sign of how much they love each other, it is also an indication of how neat these cuddly felines are and how much they care about being properly groomed.

One of the main reasons cats lick humans is related to the feeling of affection they may have for them, which should not be a concern for their owners unless they do it excessively. If you are concerned then you should reach out to a veterinarian to get more answers.

It is also important to note that cat licking of humans on the one hand can be a tender demonstration of affection and respect, but it can also be attributed to other reasons that are driving this behavior.

cats licking grooming

Why Do Cats Lick Each Other?

There may not be a more tender scene in the animal world than watching cats licking each other, no matter if the human who observes them has never had a cat or been in contact with one, simply by watching them licking each other you can sense that it is a sign of something good. It is an act that does not project aggression or anger, it is quite the opposite, it is a manifestation of love and brotherhood between these beautiful animals that transcends any language and quickly spreads this good energy. However, there are other reasons why this action occurs among felines that are worth detailing below.

It Is A Way To Take Care Of Their Fur

Since they are small kittens and without even having opened their eyes for the first time, their mother is already instilling in them the instinctive need to groom their fur, because in case you do not know, for cats it is especially important to be groomed, they are continuously cleaning and taking care of their fur, so do not be surprised to see them several times a day in this pleasant and entertaining task.

To Strengthen And Deepen The Bond Between Their Congeners

Perhaps in the eyes of humans seeing cats licking each other is a demonstration of affection and nothing more, but the reality is that although it is an expression of affection it goes much further, it is also a way to strengthen the bonds between felines. It is a feline code to express respect towards another cat and to show their degree of trust.

It Is A Way To Perceive The Smells Of Their Fellows

Cats are amazing animals because they have a hyper-development of some of their senses. The experience of smelling and licking their congeners is also a way to record in their memory the smells of each one of the components of their herd, this offers them the great advantage of being able to distinguish at great distances when a being that does not represent any danger for them is approaching or on the contrary when unknown smells are approaching since due to the distrustful nature of cats these new aromas will warn them to be cautious and be in alert mode until they confirm that their safety is guaranteed.

It Is A Way Of Helping To Change The Odors Of Their Fellows

This point is very curious since a cat can help another cat to recover its usual scent by licking or grooming. To illustrate this point, imagine that an owner of two kittens has to take one of them to the vet for a routine checkup, when they return home the original smell of this kitten has been altered and mixed with the smell of all the people and other animals it came across in this medical visit, so their companion will lick him completely to help him recover their usual smell again.

Why Do Cats Lick Humans?

Do not think that cats only lick their feline companions, their owners or human acquaintances don’t escape this cat habit either. As in the case of licking between cats, when this happens with humans it can be attributed to several factors that will be analyzed below.

cat licking

To Show Affection

Is a licking cat a sign of affection? The action of a cat licking a human is indeed associated with a demonstration of affection. When a cat licks its owner, it is deepening its social bonds and rapport with that person with whom it will live for the rest of its life. Cats are considered independent, cautious, distrustful, and even surly animals, so the fact of licking a human reveals a very solid and deep feeling of love and trust of the feline towards its human companion.

To Establish Its Territory Very Clearly

There are multiple ways in which a cat marks its territory, the most known are rubbing its cheeks against something or someone, scratching, urinating places, things or people and licking is also another way to mark what it considers its own. In this case, when a cat licks their master, they are sending a message to the other cats that means that this human belongs to them so that they do not mess with their human.

To Groom The Human, Believe It Or Not

Remember that the cat does not understand that licking the human does not really groom them, unlike feline grooming, the cat simply does it because it is in their instinct and it tells them to clean their human in the only way they know how. So it is not surprising for your cat to exhibit this behavior to achieve that end.

To Taste A Flavor That Catches Their Attention

Many times, we try to come up with far-fetched explanations for every event that occurs and it turns out that in the end the real reason is as simple as possible and because of that very simplicity it goes completely unnoticed. It is as simple as that the cat likes some taste of the human’s skin. It could be that some liquid or food has splashed on their master’s arm and that this taste or smell is the only reason why the cat licks it.

It Simply Wants To Get Your Attention

Cats cannot talk, at least not articulating words or forming sentences, so they must manage to use certain mechanisms to attract their owner’s attention, and licking is one of them. Whether they want affection, is hungry, or wants to play, licking can also mean that the cat needs your attention to accomplish one of these tasks.

To Manage Their Stress Or Anxiety

Just because it is a domesticated animal does not mean that it is exempt from suffering from anxiety or stress. Many times, their stress or anxiety is caused by situations that alter their daily routine and put them in an atypical state of nervousness. Being extremely sensitive animals, they can perceive when an environment has a negative energy charge provoking in them these states of anxiety and stress. One way to combat and manage these emotions is by licking their master, we cannot lose sight of the fact that their human represents for the feline their refuge of trust and affection, so the action of licking helps to counteract their stress.

cat licking freckled teen

Should I let my cat lick me? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this action?

Although it is not a situation that pleases many people, letting a cat lick its master in moments of expression of affection can have some advantages and disadvantages, which we will review below.


Cat Saliva Is A Natural Wound Protector

According to a recent study conducted in the Netherlands, it was discovered that cat saliva contains a chemical called histatin. Histatin is a chemical that helps accelerate wound closure and thus wound heal because cats saliva is helping to stimulate the generation of new cells that will form tissue.

Licking Is The Fast Track To Building A Bond Of Trust

As mentioned before, the cat licks because it trusts its master, it is its way of expressing respect, love, and friendship. When a cat licks its master for the first time, it is a magical moment that indicates that the feline has opened up to affection and trust with the human.


Risks Related To Disease Transmission

Cats’ saliva contains certain bacteria and parasites that cats can transmit to humans when they lick them on the face. Specifically, there is the bacterium called “pasteurella” which is lodged in the mouth of cats and can cause lymph nodes and other infectious diseases.

It Could Be Considered Unhygienic

It may be the most hygienic cat known to man but even so when approaching a human and licking it is completely unknown what the previous contact its tongue had, which is why the human is exposed to the risk of contracting different infections because of being licked.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me And Then Bite Me?

Maybe for humans, the following concept does not make any sense, but in the feline world it is totally normal to lick and then bite, this translates into a feline concept called the love bite. The love bite is nothing more than a bite by the cat that expresses love not aggression and that the human not being accustomed to this type of manifestation can interpret it as an aggressive act, not at all pleasant.

To better understand this concept, it is better to see it through some examples. During a space of affection, the cat can be licking its master while being caressed, in that moment a bite could come from the feline since it is also another way to show affection and confidence, this is the way the kittens play and love each other as they develop into full-grown cats. Another example of loving licking and biting occurs when the cat grooms its master, it is highly likely to give him a nibble as this is part of the process of doing a deep cleaning.


Cats can be one of the most complex pets to understand because they have a very particular personality, their world carries a fascinating complexity that sometimes is not easy to appreciate with the naked eye, only when there is a true connection between human and feline is that you can build a relationship of endearing friendship between these beings that were born to live side by side.

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