Why Does My Cat Lick Me? 5 Weird Reasons Cats Lick Their Owners!

Updated on November 8, 2017

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

We all love our cats- all the way down to those cute little claws and rough, bristled, tongues that they lick us with every single day. However, we often find ourselves wondering why our cats do half of the things they do. I mean, is it really necessary to try to scale a wall only to fall on their butts, or to yank your favorite teddy off of the shelf a thousand times a day? Better yet, there's another question that we all would love an answer to: "Just why does my cat lick me?"

There are so many different answers available, and it is up to you to determine which one fits your cat. So here I am to give you the different reasons that may cause your kitty to lick you at any hour of the day!

Have you ever wondered just why your kitten licks you so much? Perhaps it's just because they think you are their pet!
Have you ever wondered just why your kitten licks you so much? Perhaps it's just because they think you are their pet! | Source

#1 She's Grooming You!

One of the many reasons that our cats lick us is because they are grooming us. Cats are notorious bathers! They love to lounge for hours at a time while only bathing and napping the day away. Cats are very clean animals, as you can probably tell by their neat appearance and well maintained coats. For the most part, there is never a single hair out of place!

Cats will also turn this attention to us. Kittens and cats tend to be social groomers; that is, they love to groom their family members. They lick us because they want us to be clean and healthy too. They will commonly try to bite and pull off any foreign object on your body. This could be a ring, a sock, or even a mole. Should your cat groom you, you should take it as a sign that they care for your well being. Then again, many of us may take it as a sign that our cats are telling us "PHEW! You're stinky and need a bath!"

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Kitties love to lick! But why???? It would be so much easier if we could just take a peek into the mind of a cat, and see exactly what they are thinking when they begin their different daily rituals.
Kitties love to lick! But why???? It would be so much easier if we could just take a peek into the mind of a cat, and see exactly what they are thinking when they begin their different daily rituals. | Source

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#2 You Taste Good!

Of course, this one might be a given. If you taste like a delicious steak, your cat is going to want to lick you- especially if you were not courteous enough to share a few bites with him or her! Kittens and cats love our food just as much as your dog does. If they don't get the chance to have any, they will resort to the next best option: getting a taste from you! Kitties may lick your fingers or face to see what they were missing out on, and will also lick your clothing if you dropped food on yourself. Don't worry though: these quick tastes won't be enough to harm your cat if you're worried about them ingesting human food.

Reason #3

Also, cats are accustomed to bathing after eating in order to eliminate any evidence of food. It's a survival strategy to fend off predators! Therefore, it is quite possible that your kitty is trying to save the day by ridding you of any meal evidence!

#4 Your Kitten Is Lonely!

"Why does my kitten lick me, is it because she's lonely?" This is quite possible! Grooming (licking each other) is a very common social activity among cats. It is their favorite way to bond with each other, other than stampeding through the house together while terrorizing your breakables. When a kitten or a cat begins to feel lonely, they are going to try to groom and play. If you are away from home often (perhaps work or school), it is quite possible that your kitty just needs more bonding time. In this case, the best way to react is to "groom" her. You can do this by brushing the cat, petting her, or by scratching the kitty's favorite scratch spots (usually located behind the ears and at the tail base). Ensure that your cat or kitten gets enough attention; and if nothing else, get a playmate for the kitty!

Ways to Keep Your Kitty from Becoming Lonely

Leaving the TV on
Hiring a pet sitter
Treat Dispensers
Get another kitten
Leaving Your Favorite Music Playing While Gone
Asking family to visit

#5 Anxiety!

Cats will overgroom out of anxiety, which might carry on over to you: the owner. If you notice that your cat has been off its rocker lately, then anxiety might just be the cause. Moving to a new home, gaining a new roommate, moving the furniture, and even a change in diet can bring on an anxiety issue. Try to determine any problem causing factors that may be in the kitty's environment if you think this might be the cause. No one likes to be stressed out or anxious; especially animals!

Why Are Cat Tongues So Bristly, Rough, and Spiky? Those Spikes Help Clean!

Cats and kittens have rough looking tongues. They seem to have lots of spikes on them, much like the bristles of a boar bristle brush. This bristly structure of the cat tongue (the bristles are actually papillae) is made up of backwards facing taste buds that are actually a tool for survival. They are used to deep clean the coat, while also helping them to eat. They help the cat to remove flesh from bones (not a common occurrence for the modern housecat), and help them to remove food and debris from their coats. These papillae on the cats' tongues also help cats to drink. Believe it or not, they don't just dunk their tongues into the water and swallow whatever water is absorbed. Instead their tongues are capable of yanking water upwards into a miniature column of water, and then they close their mouths quickly around the water. How cool is that!?

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Have you ever wondered why your kitten licks you?
Have you ever wondered why your kitten licks you?
Have you ever wondered why your kitten licks you?

How Much Licking is too Much Licking? When Cat Grooming Becomes a Problem

Sometimes, our wonderful kitties begin to lick way too much. At first, we might not even notice it. All we see is an adorable kitten bathing in the sunlight, or a kitty who might be licking some messy spills from the night's meal off of our clothes. Unfortunately, there is a point where licking becomes excessive and unhealthy. How and why does this happen?

When your cat begins to spend an absurd amount of time licking itself OR you (let's say 30 minutes to an hour or more per session), it should set off a red flag. After a while of licking, your skin will become irritated. If the cat is only licking itself excessively, you may notice a thinning coat on your cat or even bald spots. As the problem worsens you will probably see irritated patches of skin that may even bleed or become infected.

There are three main causes for this issue: anxiety, skin irritations or allergies, and parasites. Anxiety triggers cats to compulsively clean; anxiety may be a part of a cat's personality, or it can be due to environmental stress. Skin irritations, allergies, and parasites can all cause itching or odd sensations on the cats skin, enticing the cat to eliminate the problem the best way it knows how: licking and scratching! For most of these issues, a veterinarian can prescribe medications. Yes, there are anxiety and allergy medications available to pets!

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    • profile image

      anonimoose 3 days ago

      My cat is blind, and she accidentally licks me all the time trying to groom herself

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      Luis Laureano 6 months ago

      Thanks for the info, I had a feeling I was right about my cat grooming and bonding with me. I love my cat named Fatboy ☺

    • profile image

      Soul 11 months ago

      Joker likes to groom and groom if he did something wrong. Including trying to bite if you pet him.

    • profile image

      Beth 15 months ago

      I have two cats right rascals they are I just wake up in the middle of the night to find my cat trying to lick me lol

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      Terry h 15 months ago

      My oreo licks me and my hubby all the time and always licks herself too alot she also scratches at her ears and shakes her head i wonder if she has ear mites and or skin condition doesnt want you to pet her too much yet she is affectionate i will have to take her to the vet see whats what thanks for the post

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      Barry Bishop 17 months ago

      My experience tells me that licking behavior in cats is often a domination behavior. I've always allowed my cats to lick me as much as I could stand because it gave them the sense that while they were doing it, despite their almost total dependence on me, they were "the boss." To my mind, a happy, satisfied cat is the best kind! Thanks for the chance to tell about my little Skippy.

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      Barry Bishop 17 months ago

      In the 1980's I had a cat who I found near death in the Minnesota winter with a severed, severely infected paw (caught in a trap?). After he recovered, and was neutered, he was a serious behavior problem. He would attack me, biting and scratching. Famous animal behaviorist Dr. Robert K. Anderson (U. of MN Vet School , inventor of the Gentle Leader harness) taught me how to train him ("boot camp" style). He became my little buddy. He was a compulsive licker, and would lick my arm bald if I let him. I called him Skippy because of the way he walked with his right front paw missing. He's been dead over 25 years, I've had many cats since, but I still miss him.

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      Eric 19 months ago

      I appreciate all the neat information ! My kitty Honey Bear always licks me :) She was a rescue and a medium hair orange and white tabby and just saves me from the world daily !

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      Cheska 22 months ago

      My cat has bald spots due to excessive grooming, she has mites btw and I already took her to the vet for medication. Will my cat's fur grow back?

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      Amelia 22 months ago

      I love your cat

    • profile image

      Alex 2 years ago

      Yes my male cat George licks me I think out of effection

    • angryelf profile image

      angryelf 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you everyone! I'm glad all of you enjoy it! I used to have cats in the past who were big on licking; but I saw this question somewhere and decided that it would make an awesome hub :) Thanks for the support & interest!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      My daughter has the cats now, totally spoiled and much loved. And oh so bossy, they groom us all. Now we know why. Lovely hub and most informative. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I quite enjoy the care that they give me; they can lick all they want to. Good hub!

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      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      The cat I have now doesn't lick me that much, but last one loved to lick. He'd even lick my toes. YUCK! Usually it was my fingers or hair. He really loved sitting on the back of my chair and washing my hair for me. I ask the vet about it and he told me the same things you covered in this article. I'd say Pippen did it for the first three reasons you gave. This hub will really help people learn why cats lick people, especially those who are first time cat owners.

    • Meisjunk profile image

      Jennifer Kessner 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Prince Fredward is the groomer! He's super social, and I wish I had a companion for him. (It might save me from some of his baths!)

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 3 years ago from Ireland

      Our previous cats used to do this quite often, but our current cat just wants to chase butterflies outside. :)

    • angryelf profile image

      angryelf 3 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Peggy! Cats truly are awesome pets, I myself currently have two. They will terrorize our home all hours of the day and night... destroying everything within their paths... but I wouldn't trade them for anything! LOL! It's absolutely adorable when they cuddle up and bathe us. Thanks for jumping in and browsing my little ole corner :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have 2 inside cats both of whom were strays. They are a joy and delight. Our female cat Peaches not only grooms Dusty, our male cat, but me as well on occasion. Ha! Up, useful and interesting votes.