It’s quite an interesting sensation when a cat licks you. In comparison to a dog’s tongue, a cat’s tongue rather rough and dry, almost like sandpaper. But why is your cat licking you? Is it grooming you? Giving you feline kisses?
To give you a better insight into what’s going through your kitty’s mind when it starts licking you, we’ll explain what are some of the possible reasons why cats lick humans.
Facts about a cat’s tongue
Before we dive into the explanations of this adorable mystery, it is important to understand more about the cat’s tongue. A cat’s tongue is covered in papillae or barbs, which are extremely tiny, white particles that face backwards on the surface of the tongue.
These barbs serve a variety of functions, including helping cats collect dirt and loose hair during grooming or tear meat from bones. Because the barbs face backwards, anything that is torn off with them will end up in the cat’s throat. This is also why our feline friends usually cough up hairballs from time to time, if you don’t get send them for regular pet grooming services to get rid of the excess loose fur on their coat.
Other social and practical functions that licking serves include:
- Removing the scent of prey after a meal
- For mothers to clean their kittens and eliminate their waste
- Creating a familiar group scent for cats in a pack
- Keeping themselves cool
- Relieving stress
- Removing external parasites.
So, why is your cat licking you?
As most cat owners would know, felines are finicky creatures with complex emotions. Pinning down the exact reason why your cat is licking you is never a straightforward matter, so you will have to get clues from the context of the situation and your cat’s body language in order to draw a conclusion.
Here are some reasons why they might be licking you:
1. It’s showing you affection
Also known as social grooming, licking is a way for cats to show affection to one another. If your cat is licking you, it might be doing so out of affection, just as it has learnt to do so from its mother!
2. Marking territory
Cats don’t like to share toys, space, or their owners. Typically, a cat would mark its territory by urinating or rubbing the corners of their mouths on it, but it also sometimes spread pheromones through licking.
If you’ve noticed your feline rubbing their face and body all over you, licking you might be simply another way of it marking you as its property. This will prevent other cats from approaching you, especially if you haven’t washed off your cat’s scent, because they can smell your pet on you.
3. Expressing anxiety
When anxiety seeps in, cats may lick you as a way of comforting themselves. This is usually accompanied by a tensed body posture, and often times they may overgroom themselves as well. If you notice areas of thinning hair or bald spots on your cat, make sure to bring them for a checkup with one of the vets in Singapore to ensure that there are no underlying medical causes and find out how you may help your cat feel better.
4. Comforting you
As mentioned earlier, cats lick themselves to relieve stress. As a result, they often lick each other as a way to calm down the other party too, so if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, upset, or sick, your cat might have picked up on that and is trying to help you feel better. Awww.