Cats are the epitome of cleanliness. If you live with more than one cat, you may notice them licking each other and wonder if it is a token of affection or part of a shared grooming ritual. Whatever it is, you might not care if this licking is not directed at you. Sadly, it is.
Think one more time about this question “Have you ever just been sitting there watching your favorite program on Youtube and your cat she comes up licking you?” Probably, she is doing more than just gently reminding you to hit the subscribe button.
It seems silly, but does the cat think you are not washed enough, hence moves her tongue across your skin to clean it.
Just kidding! There is certainly more to that unexpected kisses. Your feline friend never does something that makes no sense; at least she is trying to speak herself more to let you know what she is feeling.
No matter how intelligent your little furball is, remember that it can not master our human language. So, you should make more effort to be accepted into your friend’s inner world. Hard work pays off, thus keep on trying.
One thing for sure is that your cat licking you doesn’t mean it is playing some repetitive tricks on you. Instead, it is using some kind of body language to express its emotions.
To decipher these confusing behaviors correctly, let’s delve deeper into the meaning behind the licking and biting to see Why does my cat lick and bite me?
What do licking and biting mean?
Licking serves many practical purposes for a cat. Its unique tongue is made up of small keratin spines to help remove meat from the bone, unravel the hair, and maintain its coat.
When cats perform these two practices alone, you should be attentive to pick out the signs.
Reasons for cat licking
Believe it or not, adult cats may spend as much as half of their waking hours grooming or licking themselves, their relatives, and their friends. This behavior is considered an accepted ritual among groups of felines, which helps strengthen the social bonds and reduce conflict between members.
This “allogrooming” custom is also practiced by cats when they are adopted by human parents. And once the cat trusts you or refers to you as a close relative, there is no end to the attention he lavishes on you.
But, please keep an eye on your cat because, in some cases, the animals your cat delivers its licking on may retaliate and get irritated.
Cats are loved for being passionate creatures. They know how to return the love and care they receive from their human partners. If you pet them on the head, they will definitely “kiss” you in response. So don’t be surprised, “Why does my cat always lick me?”
In simple terms, licking is like petting that felines want their owners to feel. Sometimes, this can mean they want some quality time with you after such long periods of no-playing, no-teasing interaction.
Back to cathood memories
Take the tongue bath as a compliment! Your kitty is now getting mature enough to acknowledge you as her family member. She wants to say how secure and comfortable she is to be in your presence.
This leads to a commonly asked question, “Why does my cat lick me when I pet him?”. The answer is this loving gesture is a throwback of childhood memories.
She recalls how her mother petted her by licking, and now she is doing it on you with the roles reversed. But, it is insensible to respond to her love by licking back unless you want a mouthful of feline hair.
Have a tasting on something interesting
Look out! Let some sort of liquid spill out on your arm, and your feline will sidle over next to you to have a try.
She is curious by nature, you know. She is willing to give a taste to something that seems worth-discovering. Such things can be your lotion cream, the kitchen smell seeping in your clothes and your arms, etc.
Sometimes, the little monster loves the salt that forms itself naturally on your skin and so comes close to get a salty sample.
Echoes from early weaning
Kitties depend on their mother’s milk for essential nutrients to know. When they are around four to four and a half weeks of age, the weaning process begins to take kittens from bottle weaning to eating independently.
As a result, orphaned kittens or those weaned too soon may experience a hard time getting the nutrients they need and the attention they crave.
These poor cats tend to develop an oral fixation, making them excessive lickers. Licking is a typical sign to say that the nearly mature cats miss out on the nursing they used to receive.
It’s a touching moment. Poor the little cat! You should try to soothe her by paying her more attention, inviting her to play with you, or introduce another feline member to your house.
Stress and anxiety
Licking has so many meanings, as you have known. Sometimes, it can be a reaction to negative feelings your cat is having.
Why does my cat lick me so much? Some cats lick and groom themselves to relieve the stress they are enduring. This can be a sign that your cat needs to be petted and soothed to calm her temperament down. If she gets too anxious, this can lead to bald patches on her body.
When she licks incessantly, it is likely she is under overwhelming stress and tends to lick others non-stop as a self-soothing therapy.
It is typical of cats to depend on scent, not vision, to recognize their relatives. This makes them very territorial, urging them to establish territories by marking their toys, friends, relatives, and even their pet parents. But this way is still better than cats’ peeing out of the litter box to say that this space is theirs.
Licking or affectionate head rubs are used by cats to tell invaders that you are their property. Mother cats used to do the same thing to their offspring to mark belonging. If your feline suddenly gets away from you, probably she senses that you belong to another feline.
Reason for cat biting
Biting, whether for affection or retaliating purpose, is both unpleasant. It will be such a miserable thing ever to be bitten by an aggressive cat. Not only that, but cat biting can also happen as a defense mechanism against possible threats, which includes human beings, too.
If you notice your furball friend getting frightened or extremely angry, shy away from him in case he takes it all out on you.
During playtime, when Mr.cat gets out of control, he tends to bite his owner, and this results in some bruises or painful scratches later.
Why does my cat lick me and then bite me?
The reason is probably that licking is a sign of your cat’s getting too much of your petting. Therefore, she’s making an attempt to stop you from bothering her.
In addition, this expressive body language is part of the preening process, when cats use their teeth to perform the brushing routine, which is an essential step to guarantee hygiene, and reinforce a familiar sensation for the animal. People usually refer to this habit as an odor exchange.
Does cat licking feel soft to human beings?
Usually, if you leave home for work, your cat will lick you on your hands, arms, or fingers, but later in the evening, she will give one more licking to remove the dirt. But is it pleasant to be treated like this?
A definite no. Your cat loves it, but you don’t.
A thorough licking can be irritating because the cat’s tongue is not made of cotton or silk; instead, it is made of keratin – the same material constituting its claws, to remove dirt and debris from the coat, working like a comb that has backward-facing hooks.
This licking is more potent than you think, just let it happen on your hair, and you will see some strands falling down.
Things to consider
Generally speaking, self-grooming in cats is not negative behavior but is a sign of emotional closeness. However, the matter is not that straightforward when licking is getting overloaded.
Ask your vet -Why does my cat lick me all the time? and the answer you receive back can be startling that excessive grooming is a warning sign of psychogenic alopecia. But don’t get panic. Just avoid letting your cat lick itself to the point of baldness, do something such as seeking help from a feline behavior specialist or consulting your vet for an examination.
How to prevent your cat from licking you
Your cat has no idea how tolerable you are during her sequential licking and biting, so you should be careful in getting her to stop this behavior for fear that it may upset the relationship between the two or place you in hot water.
Any sort of punishment should be avoided in the first place. It’s no use covering your skin with a layer of substance to which your cat is allergic in the hope that she dislikes the taste and will never get close to your skin.
Sooner or later, the feline will be associated with that dreadful experience with you, which can be complicated. Instead, it is advisable to:
- Divert her attention: When the licking lasts for an extended period, you simply need to turn your face away from the cat and start petting him on his head, stroking his fur, nuzzling him gently or generally anything that offsets that licking enthusiasm.
- Ignore and walk away: It is obvious your cat wants you to be by his side, so he tolerates to make do without licking or biting as long as you stay. In the long run, the feline can’t jump over the lick-free bar that you have established for him.
- Use distraction technique: No licking must be compromised in exchange for other special treats. You can take her to the playground, give her toys or food, and verbally interacting with her.
The post covers the question Why does my cat bite me then lick me? so that pet parents can accurately decipher their feline body language.
Even when the licking gets out of control, you should be a gentle reminder to let your cat willingly stop that behavior himself. It will be upsetting if the feline friend misunderstands that you do not appreciate him.