Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

Dear Crazy Cat Lady,

My kitty Buttercup is lick obsessed! She licks my face and my hands all the time.  Why does my cat lick me?

Sincerely,

Lucy Licked-A-Lot

Dear Lucy,

There are a number of reasons why our cats lick us.  If Buttercup is a kitten, she may be just acknowledging you as mom and that she feels safe.  Since momma cat gave her tongue baths, she's just passing on what she learned to you.  It's her way of saying, "It's OK mom.  I got you."

If she was weened too early as a kitten, she may be licking as a type of pacifier.  Kittens that were orphaned or weened too early tend to be excessive lickers.  I don't know if it's because they didn't get their fair share of licking and kneading as babies, but if you have a cat that has these tendencies (licking and a lot of kneading), it's possible​ she left mom too soon and this is her coping mechanism.

If Buttercup is a little older, she may be licking you as a way to mark her territory.  Hey, at least she isn't peeing on you!  Cats can lick things to send a message to other cats this is their property.  So ​it's possible she is stamping you with an invisible sign that says, "Property of Buttercup".

Finally, she may be anxious and is showing that anxiety through excessive licking.  Give her a snuggle and some love and see if it eases her down some.

Here are a couple of takeaways regarding your kitty and her love of licking: 

  • Never punish your cat for licking you.  If you don't want her to do it in a certain area (ie. your face), gently redirect her to a more acceptable area like your hand or arm.
  • Another option to distract her from the lick lick licking is to give her a kitty massage and see if it takes her mind off things.
  • Finally, try a catnip toy or waded up ball of paper to see if she'll get interested in playing.

While kitty licking may not necessarily be a show of out and out love and adoration, it does mean they're partial to you.  Give her a snuggle and tell her you're ok with being her personal property.

Hugs and Purrs,

my signature

Crazy Cat Lady

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Bob

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