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Generally, kittens are known as tiny, furry, and cute animals. They’re recommended globally as one of the best pets to keep. But like every other pet, it has been noticed by feline owners that their kittens have habits. One of these is licking. Licking is expected from your feline and is a cat-like behavior to express fondness.
Nevertheless, if you’ve ever wondered things like “why does my cat lick me?” or “is it dangerous if my cat licks me?”, you’ve definitely come to the right place. This article will cover the most compelling reasons your cat could decide to give you a tongue bath.
Reasons Your Cat Licks You
1. Display of Affection
Cats acclimatize to the habit of licking right from kittenhood. A cat’s mother licks her kitten to groom them and display affection. Learning from this, kittens engage in grooming one another by licking. This social activity is called allogrooming. It helps to build friendly interactions and strengthen bonds among cats.
Therefore, if your cat attempts to lick you, it’s just trying to be friendly and shower you with love and affection. Additionally, the little tongue bath your kitten gives you is its way of communicating that it feels safe when they’re with you.
Just as humans use hugs and kisses to display their affection for one another, cats show this by licking those they love.
2. Seeking Attention
Another solid reason your cat licks you is to capture your attention. It may be because your kitten wants you to play with it, interact, feed, or even pet it. In most cases, your cat would have previously used its licking habits to draw your focus on it and was successful. Consequently, your kitten deduces this as a strategy to gain your attention when it deems fit.
3. Expression of Anxiety
As strange as it may sound, just like humans, cats can get anxious or stressed. Another common reason your cat may be licking you is to express these emotions. Though licks from your cat are very typical, it’s likely trying to pass a message of discomfort or stress to you when it becomes excessive.
In this case, the best way to resolve the problem is to seek the source or trigger for your cat’s anxiety and stress to remove it. If it persists, it would be best to take your cat to the vet.
4. Marking Of Territory
Cats are often known to lick their owners to mark their territory. Kittens use urination, scratching, and rubbing to show possession. However, they also use licking to show other cats or animals that you “belong” to them.
Hence, when your cat licks you, it wants to show off to other animals that you’re its favorite. It could also be a warning to other pets to stay clear of you. It’s their way of reaffirming that you are a part of their family.
Your cat is also most likely to lick you because it’s attracted to your taste. It could be your perfume, lotion, shampoo, or just the natural flavor of your skin. As long as a cat is fond of you, it will enjoy licking you because it likes your taste.
Should I Allow My Cat to Lick Me?
It depends. Licking is a natural habit of felines, and it is usually nothing that should prompt worry. It is a way of expressing love, grooming, and even marking territory for your kitten.
However, there might be potential risks, especially when the licking becomes exorbitant. In many cases, cat owners have complained of unusual discomfort and skin irritation after getting a tongue bath from their kittens. This is due to the texture of the cat’s tongue, which is similar to low-grit sandpaper.
Studies show that a cat’s tongue comprises tiny spines called papillae. According to Georgia tech researcher Alexis Noel, these papillae compose of keratin. This is the same substance that makes up human fingernails. Hence, the irritation.
It is equally important to note that you should not allow your kitten to lick you if you have an open wound or cut. Naturally, your feline may mean no harm. But cats carry bacteria in their mouth which may lead to further infection if licking persists.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Licking You
- Whenever your cat attempts to lick you, you can distract its attention by offering it a tasty treat.
- Make sure that your house is not deficient in various cat toys. So, when your cat attempts to lick you, you can toss it one of its toys to play with instead.
- Be conversant with the kind of clothing you wear when interacting with your cat. Wearing long sleeves will discourage your cat’s habit of licking you.
- Be observant; it will also be of great help to search for perfumes or lotions which your cat finds distasteful. Rubbing them on your skin would stop your kitten from licking you.
If none of those above preventive measures work and your cat’s licking consistently persists, it would be advisable to visit a veterinarian for a check-up.