26 July 2017 | Cat Advice

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

People tend to think that animals show love by licking us. But is this really true? Is there another reason why they obsessively like to lick those around them?  Dogs are better know for their wet, slobbering kisses, whilst a cats lick is a completely different experience. Irrelevant of your cats breed, all cats like to lick. Your cat's tongue is covered in tiny barbs that actually face backwards in their mouths. These little barbs are what make the cat's tongue feel rough when licking you.

Read on to find out other reasons why cats like to lick and why their tongues are rough.

Show affection

If your cat is not 100% comfortable with you then they're less likely to lick you. Cats licking is a way of showing affection to their favorite people and other cats. They also like to lick for grooming reasons. Allowing your cat to be licked in this way returns the gesture and shows the cat your affection back.

To mark you with their scent

All owners of cats are far too familiar with stroking their cat scenario. After immediately stroking your cat you will have noticed that they groom themselves thoroughly afterward. This behaviour is to help the cat remove your scent from their coat and return themselves back to their usual scent. The same is if your cat tries to lick you - they are wanting you to smell like them and therefore marking you theirs.

To mark their territory

All cat breeds feel comfortable with familiar smells so will often lick everything around them to make their territory. They like to rub themselves against newly introduced items within the home to mark it with their scent.

Comfort reasons

Cats that are distressed, or sometimes hurt can exhibit lots of different behaviours that we as humans associate with a content or happy cat, such as purring- which can be as a result of the cat making themselves feel better.

The same is if they lick their bed or blanket, they may well be trying to get comfortable and settle down.

To taste

Cats love to lick the hands of someone that has been sweating and their skin is salty. Of if they have been handling any kind of meat or fish, then your cat will not be able to resist a good lick!

Your cat's tongue

As previously mentioned your cat's tongue is covered in small barbs (papillae) which you can sometimes see if your cat yawns and sticks their tongue out. These tint barbs help a cat by acting like a comb for when they groom their fur or licking scraps of meat from a bone. It also helps them hold onto objects they carry around.

These barbs can also cause problems because of the way they face in the cat's mouth. Sometimes during grooming the loose hair ends up in their mouths and causes a fur ball. Also, if your cat gets something stuck in their mouth, they may struggle to spit it out as it gets stuck on the barbs.

To mark something as theirs

Cats like their territory to smell familiar and therefore will lick and rub themselves up against each and everything within their space. If anything that is new and introduced to the home, you can be certain that your cat will mark it with their scent.

Remembering the behaviour of their mother

The mother of a newly born kitten starts the grooming produce immediately after they are born to help stimulate breathing and get their digestive system going and to also show them how to groom themselves.

The kitten remembers this behaviour and it makes them feel safe and so sometimes they will exhibit the same behaviour to themselves and other cats as a sign of affection.

Cats that get on with each other will take great pleasure in grooming one another.

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