Why Do Cats Lick Their Owners?
By: Stanley P.
There are many reasons that your cat may lick you. A cat’s tongue is one of its most important assets. Cats use their tongue to groom themselves for 30-50% of their active day to keep their fur clean, and they also have many more important uses for their tongue. A common question that comes after learning about this is, “Why does my cat lick me?”
Reasons For Licking
1. To Show Affection
For cats, licking is not only used as a grooming mechanism but also similar to dogs it is to show affection. By licking you or another animal, your cat is creating a social bond. The reason for this behaviour may originate from kittenhood, where their mother licked the kittens to groom them, as well as to show care and affection. Many cats continue this habit into their adult lives, licking their humans to pass along the same sentiment. Many cats retain this behaviour into adulthood, licking their owners to express their feelings.
2. To Mark their Territory
Cats can use many different methods to “mark their territory,” including cheek rubbing, scratching, and spraying – licking is another way cats can claim something as their own. So if your cat is licking you, it can be a possibility that they are trying to ensure that other cats or animals know you belong to them.
3. To Groom You
One of the reasons a cat licks you is to help groom you. It is an entirely natural activity for them, even if the cat is unaware that it is not helping you get any cleaner. As previously said, mother cats groom their kittens to teach them how to groom themselves, express affection and form a social bond. Groups of cats living together frequently select an “allo-groomer” – a cat who grooms and licks the other cats in the group. If your cat licks you, they are likely attempting to play the role of “allo-groomer,” cleansing you and establishing your participation in their group and forming a social bond with you.
4. To Taste Something Interesting
As simple as this reason may seem, your cat may be licking you because they taste something interesting and intriguing on your skin. You may have spilt something or been in contact with anything that left a residue on your skin, which your cat enjoys. If it is hot outside or you have been exercising, your sweat may have left a salty residue, which your cat is attempting to taste.
Interestingly, even though the design of cats’ tongues is for grooming, they have a far weaker sense of taste than humans. Cats are one of the few mammals that cannot taste sweets.
So why do cats lick their owners? The simple way to put it is because they want to. Cats have many reasons for licking you. It is to show that they care for us, to show others that you belong to them, or they may just have a genuine curiosity about whatever residue is on your skin. Like many other things cats do, they do it because they want to. For some, the reason may not even matter because you know that you and your cat have a strong bond.