Have you ever wondered why cats lick us? Naturally, when our pets lick us, we assume they are merely showing love. But just how accurate is that assessment?
Reason 1: Cats Lick Us Because They Feel Secure With Us
According to petmd.com. perhaps your cat is giving you a tongue bath because she sees you as a member of her tribe and feels secure when she is with you. She may recall how her mom gave her cleanings as a kitten. Now, your cat is emulating that behavior towards you as an act of nurture, keeping you clean and claiming you as one of her own.
Reason 2: Cats Lick Us To Establish Territory
Another reason your cat may lick you is to establish her territory. Licking allows her to mark her scent, telling others to back off because this is her property. Just like mother cats lick their offspring to mark them as their own, your cat licks you to declare to the world that you are hers. (Remember! You don’t own your cat; she owns you!) Licking is also a bonding mechanism.
Reason 3: Weaned Too Early or Orphaned
Cats lick us because they may have been weaned too early or were orphaned, developing an oral fixation making them excessive lickers. Without an appropriate means by which to get the same comfort that nursing gave them, they turn to licking, which is the closest they can get to that sensation.
Reason 4: It’s Cat Version of Petting Us
Licking is also a cat’s version of petting you, another form of affection she has towards you. Because she can’t really pet you, she lets her tongue do the work for her.
Reason 5: Anxiety
Excessive licking on your cat’s part can be attributed to anxiety. This may be a sign she needs to be petted and cuddled to relieve her stress. If your cat does seem to be licking too much, offer her more attention and affection.
Check for Skin Irritations
When an older cat who has never shown her affection for you in this manner suddenly begins licking you or suckling at your clothing, take note.
Some cats initiate vigorous licking trying to get relief from a skin irritation, fleas, an insect bite or even an infection. Examine her skin and fur for the source of the problem. Check with your veterinarian as to proper treatment.
While there are varied reasons as to why your cat might lick you – and we know it can hurt at times – never punish or reprimand her for doing what is natural for her. If you need to distract her, try massaging her a bit or engaging her with a catnip toy.