5 Weird Reasons Why Your Cat Licks You

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on December 8, 2017

You’re sitting with your feet up, relaxing and watching television, when suddenly you feel the sandpaper tickle of your cat’s tongue on your toes. Why do cats lick us anyway?

The papillae that help them rasp meat off of bone don’t feel very pleasant on our skin, and cats aren’t usually as exuberant about their affection as dogs, so what is it that makes cats lick people? Here are 5 weird reasons why.

#1 – They’re cleaning you

One of the reasons cats groom each other is to help clean the places a cat can’t reach well by themselves, like the top of the head and inside the ears. When your kitty licks you, they think they’re doing you a favor by keeping you clean.

#2 – You taste interesting

Maybe you spilled something and your cat wants a taste. Maybe it’s just the normal salty taste of your skin. Either way, you’re quite different than another cat, so your cat may just enjoy your unique taste.

#3 – They’re showing affection

Cats groom each other as a show of affection, so it’s fair to assume the same applies when they start grooming you. You are part of their family and they want you to feel as loved as they did when their mom licked them as a kitten.

#4 – They’re marking you as part of their territory

Licking you or rubbing their head against you are two ways that cats can spread their pheromones all over you to claim you as part of their territory. If other cats are aloof around you, it may be because your cat has marked you as belonging to them.

#5 – They have anxiety

Some cats lick themselves – or anything within reach – as a way to calm themselves down when they are feeling stressed out. A cat that is constantly licking may be dealing with anxiety. If the habit seems excessive, consult with your veterinarian.

(H/T: PetMD, The Spruce, Catster)

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