Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

cat licks a hand

You’ve probably wondered, ‘why does my cat lick me.’ In any case, it is a frequently asked question from cat owners. There are several different reasons why your cat licks you. Many of these reasons have to do with showing affection.

Licking is one of the favorite daily activities of your cat. The behavior is not limited to just licking itself or from a food bowl. Your cat is complimenting you if it is licking you and giving a sign of affection. Other reasons why your cat licks you is because your cat has memories of the kittenhood, wants to mark a territorial, or because you are part of the ” cat ” family. When your cat licks you, it can be a sign of stress, a compliment, or something else.

In this post, you can read more about: why does my cat lick me. You can find the most common reasons why your cat licks you. Also, you can read more about how to get your cat to stop licking you. You can watch a movie on YouTube at the end of this post about why does my cat lick me.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me?

It is difficult to determine whether a cat can feel complex emotions such as love. Still, licking you is a sign of affection. Licking can generally consider as a positive behavior. If your cat licks you, you can take this as a compliment.

A cat usually licks itself to groom itself. A mother cat also licks her kittens as part of the grooming process. If cats lick each other, it is a sign of affection. Cats lick people for various reasons, but most of it has to do with showing affection.

There are some common materials that cats are licking like plastic, rubber, cotton, and bedding. Licking can also be a problematic problem when your cat is chewing on something. When your cat is chewing on something, then it can be swallowing one of these materials. For example, if your cat chews on plastic, it is dangerous if your cat swallows it.

Safety is less important if your cat licks you. There are many reasons why a cat wants to lick you.

If your cat is licking you, it can be a way of asking attention. Licking can become excessive or tiring. It is, therefore, important to understand the specific reason behind your cat’s behavior. If you know the reason, you can correctly divert your cat’s attention. Because your arm, hand, or other body part does not have to be licked clean all day by your cat.

Here you can find the most common reasons why your cat licks you.


Many cat owners say their cats lick or bite them to attract attention.
If your cat requires attention, this can mean that your cat wants to play or be petting. But in other cases, it can also be a sign of something more serious like fear or stress.

Memories of Kittenhood

Your cat is licking you because it accepts you as a member of the family. Your cat feels completely secure when you are with your cat. A cat remembers how the mother cat gave it cleanings as a kitten. Now your cat is continuing what it has learned, only with the roles reversed. The best way that your cat knows is also licking someone. Your cat is caring for you in the best way it knows. Such as by cleaning/licking you, and claiming you as it’s own.


The licking behavior is not just exclusive between cat and owner. Cats often lick other cats and even other animals to show their affection. Not all cats or animals like to be licking. So it is essential to keep an eye on your cat when your cat starts licking other animals. Some other cats or animals get revenge or get scared when a cat tries to lick them.

To a cat, licking the owner is a cat version of petting you. So you are petting your cat, and your cat is licking you because this is petting in the cat’s eyes. Both licking and petting are forms of affection for your cat.

Because your cat can’t pet you, your cat licks you instead. A cat has no idea that the tongue hurts. Social grooming by licking is an essential affectionate behavior in cats. Licking can be a hint of affection between cats and between a cat and a human.

When your cat is licking other cats or their human owners is often a sign that your cat is calm. Anxiety can also be a reason for licking, so paying attention to the behavior and other notable things is important.

cats licking each other

Stress or Anxiety

When a cat is anxious, it may begin licking compulsively. It is very common for cats and other animals to begin licking things excessively if stressed. It is a sign that your cat needs to cuddle or/and petted to reduce stress. If your cat is licking incessantly, then try to giving it more attention and affection. When you are giving more attention, then hopefully, your cat is calming down.

When something has caused your cat to be stressed, try to identify the problem so you can maybe solve it. If you think your cat is not calming down and very anxious or stressed for a long time, it might be best to pay a visit to your vet.

Marking the Territory

Cats like to mark their territory. Other cats and animals know what is theirs. If a cat sees you as theirs, they may begin to lick you. It’s the way to mark you as part of their territory. Marking their territory is also to let other cats know who you belong to. While this type of behavior is completely normal, it could lead to problems in the house. Be careful about territorial behavior if you have more than one cat or pet.

Licking other things like cat toys, animals, cat stuff, and furniture can confirm a territory. Your cat wants to say, stay away, that is my stuff!

Mother cats lick their kittens to determine them as belonging to her. Your cat does the same to tell the world you are hers. Licking you is a sign to bond the two of you together (marking the territory).

Cats who are brothers or sisters or came from different litters will lick each other as a form of social bonding.

Within a group of cats that live together, there is usually a designated allo-groomer. An allo-groomer is a cat that licks and taking care of the other cats in the group. Often, the members of the group are related to each other. So licking a human may be the cat’s attempt to include you as part of the group.

Part of the Cat Family

Many people are making jokes about cats think they’re humans. Given the way some cats behave towards their owners, it’s easy to see why. Example: a cat who will leave dead birds or mice on their owner’s doorsteps in an attempt to share a tasty treat. Some cats also present their owners live animals in an attempt to teach its owner to hunt.

Female cats will especially exhibit this sort of parenting or nurturing type of behavior. Cats sometimes find their owner incompetent at being a cat.

If you are sick or stressed, you will might that your cat is more affectionate because cats are very alert to the mood of their owner. So when your cat notices you are anxious, it is probably licking you. Your cat is trying to calm your anxiety the same way you would pet your cat when it is nervous.

mother cat licks kitten

How to Get my Cat to Stop Licking me

While most cats are occasionally licking their owner, it can also become too much. Especially if your cat does it all the time. If a cat owner, you want to discourage your cat from licking without pushing it away or making your cat feel as if it is not wanted or appreciated. Licking goes about emotional closeness and love, so it’s tricky to tell your cat to stop without endangering your relationship with your cat.

Some people will attempt to prevent the behavior altogether by example, applying something on their skin that tastes bad to cats. People use that idea so that the cat won’t like the taste and won’t lick the owner in the future. But this way can have an undesired effect. However, the cat may begin to associate the unpleasant experience with you in a more general way, which can be problematic.

If your cat is licking you excessively, the best thing you can do is redirect your cat actions. Zayra loves snuggling with me and licking my hands. What I will typically do is move my hands away from her and either offer my head to nuzzle against or pet her so that she enjoys the petting and stops licking.

When that doesn’t work, you can walk away when licking becomes excessive. When your cat is licking you, your cat is associating licking you with your disappearing. After a long time, your cat is learning that you are a lick-free zone.

Other Ways to Stop Licking

Other ways can help to stop your cat from licking you. If your cat is stressed or anxious, then distraction is the best way. The first method of distraction is playing with your cat. When you are playing with your cat, you are interacting and spending time with your cat. It gives your cat a good and lovely feeling.

You can also use food to distract your cat. Using a tasty treat to distract your cat is a great way to encourage your cat to stop licking you.

The best way to do first and try is to play with your cat because many treats are not good for your cat’s health. Using food can also teach your cat that licking is meaning a treat. So be careful and look at the behavior of your cat and how the best way feels for you.

Playing with Your Cat

If you want to combine playing and food, you can choose to make a game of it. For example, with the cat toy Snack Ball, you can buy this on Amazon. Eating is now an exciting game! Your cat should try to grab the food (treat) and is probably happier with the reward.

The snack ball’s principle is as easy as it is effective: a sturdy plastic ball, sometimes with a spiral inside and an opening at the bottom. The treats fall out through the opening. You fill the ball with treats through the opening, (shake the spiral slightly upwards) and give the filled snack ball to your cat. Your cat should roll the ball on the floor until a treat finds its way through the spiral to the opening and falls out.

As with any other product, keep an eye on your cat while playing with this toy.

If your cat does not like this type of toy, you can find many other games on the internet that you can do with your cat. Playing with your cat is a good distraction to avoid excessive licking.


On this page of Wikipedia, you will find more information about the behavior “licking.” It is about licking at different types of animals.


Below you can watch a video on YouTube that goes about: why does my cat lick me. This video explains six reasons why cats lick people.


Hopefully, you have learned something about why cats lick people. When your cat does lick you, it can mean that it’s attempting to teach you to groom yourself. It’s a sign of affection, and it’s a memory your cat had from being licked by its mother.

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If you like this post, then you may want to look at some posts in the Cat Life part of this website, since this post is also part of it.

By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.