This post may contain affiliate links, or we may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post. For more information on this, please visit our legal page.
My cat won’t stop licking my face! Today we talk about the reasons behind cat licking.
Cat licking behaviour is a strange one because some cats do it and others don’t. I really wanted to add this one to Cat Week this year because my cat Hades is a serial licker! He has woken me up before, purring and licking my face like you would expect from a dog. I know he’s not the only one who does it, but he is the only one in all the cats I have ever had who exhibits this behaviour and I had to get to the bottom of it!
Here is Hades licking my hand, mild in comparison to usual!
A post shared by The Mummy Toolbox (@themummytoolbox) on
Reasons For Cat Licking Behaviour
Sometimes we are just dirty and unworthy to stroke them until we are clean. If your cats don’t like the smell of you or feel you need a wash, they are obviously going to help their incapable human! I notice that after I have been swimming before I jump in the shower, if I come across my cat, he will try and wash me!
2. Territorial Behaviour
Your cat could be trying to mark you as their own, particularly if you have other pets or have been around other animals. The scent that they emit through licking helps for them to recognise you but also tell others that you are their human.
You often find cats bonding by licking each other and you should feel privileged to be included in the pack. Social bonding by cat licking can not only show that your cat feels comfortable and safe around you (they only lick people they like) but also they are trying to help you reach those hard to reach places!
4. Getting Leftovers
If you have a greedy or fat cat, you may find that they are licking your face for a different reason. If you have a messy face or have spilt something on yourself, particularly foods they like, and they are substituting you for a cheeky snack. Also, lotions, creams or other cosmetics could smell nice and therefore prompt them to lick you but you should always be careful that your cat doesn’t consume something toxic.
5. Being Family
As kittens, cats wash their young and for your cat to be recreating this with you, shows that they consider you their family.
Unfortunately, cat licking can be a sign of something more sinister and when a cat becomes stressed or anxious, they may take to compulsively licking. If you notice any bald spots on your cat or that they are excessively washing, this could be a sign of stress and you should seek veterinary advice. Check out the warning signs of cat stress and anxiety in day 1!
Excessive or compulsive licking can indicate that your cat is not well. They can lick the site in particular that is causing them pain in an effort to soothe them, or if the skin is broken to clean it as well. Usually, washing is accompanied by other symptoms such as a change of appetite or behaviour so keep an eye out and take your cat to the vet if you are concerned.
How To Discourage Cat Licking
If you are needing some space and need to lovingly tell your cat that enough is enough, there are some things you can do:
Find A Substitute – find something that your cat can lick instead of you! Or find a snuggly blanket they can cuddle into and you may find they are more interested in that!
Distraction – Before your cat starts their licking process, draw their attention elsewhere with a toy or start stroking them. You will find that they forget about their licking habits and save them for another day.
Look At Causes – If you think your cat may be stressed or anxious, look for the cause and the licking will go away. Keep them entertained and give them a safe space if they need it.
Wash – You don’t have to wash excessively but if your cat wants to sit on you and lick you, they may be discouraged by a soapy smell. Plus, washing never hurt anyone.
Do you have a cat licker? Let me know in the comments with your cat’s name 🙂