Why does my cat lick me?

If you’re a dog owner you’ll know that they are rarely shy when it comes to showing their affection. Stay out of the house for even a short period of time and you can almost guarantee your canine companion will be ready to shower you with slobbery kisses when you walk through the door.

Of course, our cats love us too – but you are unlikely to be greeted quite so enthusiastically, even if you have been away on a two-week holiday. That said, cats do lick their humans (and each other) from time to time so we decided to delve into some of the reasons why.

Affection
Just like dogs, cats will lick as a sign of affection. Kittens learn it from their mother, who will use it as a way to build a bond with her newborns. As they grow older, cats continue to display this kind of behaviour and may lick or groom their feline friends. Happily, this also extends to us to so if your cat licks you, it means that they love you and enjoy your company.

'I'm still here . . . '
Cats are known for being independent creatures and do not always want a cuddle when we do. Nevertheless, they do crave our attention from time to time and licking you may be their way of showing you they are still there.

Smell and taste
Cats have a highly attuned sense of smell and lick each other as a way of sharing scents and building friendships. They might replicate this with you, particularly if they like your familiar smell. Some people also believe that kitties lick them because they like the taste of salt from sweat on their skin. We’re not sure if this is true or not but it seems plausible!

Early separation and anxiety
So far it seems that licking is a positive and lovable thing to do but it can sometimes indicate that our kitties are stressed. Early separation from their mother or siblings (before 12 weeks) can result in feelings of anxiety and they may seek comfort in licking. If your cat suddenly starts licking, or it becomes excessive, it is worth looking into some of the reasons why. Have you recently moved house or welcomed a new baby or pet into the family? You can comfort your kitty by surrounding them with familiar toys and plenty of attention, but if you are worried seek advice from a vet.

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