Cat behavior: why do cats lick people?

Cats are the most popular pets of the Germans and the Internet is teeming with photos and videos that capture the behavior of the velvet paws. What domestic cats always warm their owners’ hearts with is when they lick people off. But why do cats lick people and what is behind it??

Even if it is stated again and again: Cats are not pure loners, but social animals. Cats also lick each other. This behavior serves thereby:

  • the care, for example, when a kitten licks her kittens
  • to strengthen the social relationship among them
  • the changing and remembering of smells
  • and the reassurance

For cats, licking their social partners is a normal part of their behavior and has a positive connotation. Being licked tenderly is one of the first sensations a kitten experiences. If cats live together in a larger group, you can observe that cats choose their favorite partners, whom they then lick particularly intensively. Among cats, therefore, licking is considered a real proof of trust and love.

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What is behind it when the cat licks the human?

This behavior is also transferable to humans. This means that if your cat licks you, on your face, on your arms or even your hair, then he likes you. Your cat thus assigns you a great importance in his life. For example, she’ll explore where you’ve been with her tongue. It can also be that your cat licks you because it likes the smell of your sweat or your soap particularly gladly.

However, the complete opposite can also be the case: Licking also serves to remove a foreign smell. Last but not least, your cat marks you by licking you, because it leaves fine particles of smell on your skin. Some cats also nibble their human’s skin or peck against clothing. These are also signs of affection and well-being. Also with head giving, nose nudging, rear turning and around the legs stroking the cat expresses its human love. Be happy that you are so important to your cat!

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What are the dangers when my cat licks me??

Many people find it unsanitary to be licked by an animal – dog or cat. It is not completely harmless if a cat licks you, because in the cat saliva can be diarrhea pathogens or parasites. If your cat likes to lick you, you should therefore always clean the affected skin areas. Also, your cat should be regularly dewormed and examined by a veterinarian. These rules of conduct are especially important if there are children in the household and they are licked by the cat.

How can I break my cat of the licking habit??

If you really don’t want your cat to lick you, you need patience first of all. Blow gently in the face of the cat. Most cats don’t like this at all and avoid the air stream. Combine blowing with a clear command like "No" and repeat this consistently every time your cat tries to lick you.

Another strategy is to get up and walk away whenever your cat exhibits the unwanted lick. There is no guarantee that this will work, because cats are very particular and the cleaning instinct is strong in some cats.

After all, your cat only means well with you. To make sure she doesn’t waste all your care on just you, you can think about getting a second cat. Cats are social animals that need contact with other cats – including joint grooming.

How can I return the favor of caring for my cat?

If you do not find licking skin and hair unpleasant, then simply enjoy it! Cats also love it when your human shows care for them. Petting, scratching and brushing has the same social function for the cat as licking.

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