Just like the dog, a cat can lick its master as a sign of love and affection.
But this is not the only possible cause: other factors can be the cause of insistent licking from your four-legged friend. What are they ? Why does your cat lick you?
Your Cat Shows You Affection
Like meowing, licking in cats is a social behavior that allows them to express their tenderness. This mark of trust is learned from birth by the mother who licks her kittens to cuddle, protect and congratulate them. Your animal reproduces it naturally on you. This is why it is common to see cats licking each other.
If your pet has adopted you as a member of his social group and feels good and safe around you, he may show his attachment to you by licking your hands, arms or face. This gesture can also be accompanied by purring, meowing or small nibbles, as when grooming. Your cat is then interacting with you and showing you his affection: enjoy this beautiful moment of complicity!
On the other hand, if he starts biting you suddenly, it is a sign that he is warning you and asking you to leave him alone. If his bite hurts you, do not reprimand him with physical punishment: it is advisable to simply ignore him and respond to his request by stopping touching him, or to mark your disapproval with a calm “no”.
The Cat Wants to Mark Its Territory
The first reason (affection) goes hand in hand with this one. Since your cat loves you, he wants to mark his territory to show that: “This person belongs to me!”. Indeed, cats have a very keen sense of smell. What we don’t know is that when they lick us, they leave tiny particles of perfume on our skin. These particles serve to signal to other animals that you belong to your cat.
Licking therefore shows a territorial claim for the cat. The same is true if you pet another animal before returning to see your cat. The animal will sense potential competition. By licking you, he not only removes your cat’s odor molecules, but he will cover them with his own.
He Is Anxious or Stressed
Change of environment, arrival of a new inhabitant, abnormal noises… Many factors can be a source of stress and anxiety for your cat. He can then show it by shaking, meowing or compulsive licking. Indeed, licking for cats gives them calm and serenity.
If your pet starts licking you suddenly and excessively, it is advisable to find the cause, because it is a sign that something is wrong. To calm him down, you must first get him away from any source of stress and reassure him as much as possible. A play session and a good dose of cuddles often help to calm a stressed animal.
My Cat Licks Me: Beware of Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome!
When licking in cats becomes pathological, it is necessary to consult the veterinarian. This is the case when the little feline spends hours licking itself or licking its master insistently. Licking becomes sickly.
The origin of feline hyperesthesia is not clearly established. Depending on the case, the cause invoked can be neurological, dermatological, musculoskeletal or even behavioral. This syndrome can also be seen in cats that have been poisoned, exposed to toxic fumes, deficient, or have thyroid dysfunction.
Whatever the cause of feline hyperesthesia syndrome, it always manifests itself by an exacerbation of the sensitivity of the various senses in cats. We can therefore speak of a sensitivity disorder and this requires a consultation with the veterinarian. The treatment of hyperesthesia depends on the cause of the pathology and can be long.
Can My Cat Transmit Diseases to Me by Licking Me?
It’s not just parents of young children who wonder if cats’ tongues can transmit diseases. Nevertheless, it is preferable to respect some hygiene rules: if your cat has licked your hands, be sure to wash them afterwards. But when you live with young children, their hands land in their mouths very quickly. Aside from licking, if you have young children and other people in the house, you should regularly deworm your cat.
If the cat’s saliva only causes small wounds, it can, in very rare cases, cause an infection with a bacterium called Bartonella henselae, and therefore lead to “cat-scratch disease”. However, as the name suggests, this disease is mainly transmitted via cat scratches. The risk of disease transmission by licking in cats is very low. But for hygienic reasons, don’t let your cat lick your face.