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Why Does My Cat Lick My Face? 9 Possible Reasons

Why Does My Cat Lick My Face? 9 Possible Reasons

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Cats usually don’t lick humans as often as dogs, as it’s not really their thing. So when a cat licks you, it definitely means something special.

Cats show us their feelings and thoughts through their body language, and every cat parent should know what each of their behaviors means. However, sometimes it isn’t easy to keep up with everything.

So, if you want to know why does my cat lick my face? Is it normal? Should you let it do that? Read on, as this article provides nine common reasons for this behavior.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Face?

cat licks man's nose

Some cats may lick their human faces often. This behavior is much more common for dogs, but it can be present in cats too.

Cats show us their feelings through their behavior and body language. Therefore, if we don’t know how felines communicate with us, we cannot know what they are trying to tell us.

A cat licking a human face is, for some cat parents, adorable. For others, it’s irritating and disgusting. What about you? Read on and find out nine possible reasons for this behavior and tell me if you find them adorable or not?

If the answer is no, the article will also provide tips on how to stop your cat from licking your face. Now, let’s start with possible reasons that will answer the question – why do cats lick you?

9 Reasons For This Adorable Behavior

cat licks woman's cheek

Reason No. 1 – Your Kitty Loves You

Most people consider cats to be independent creatures who don’t care about anyone but themselves. However, we cat parents know that this is not true.

Cats know how to be affectionate and show you love, and they are usually lovely attention seekers. So, one of the ways cats use to show you that they love you is by licking your face.

If your kitty gives you a tongue bath, that is the most obvious sign of showing you love and affection, especially if that behavior is followed by loud purring and kneading.

Reason No. 2 – Your Cat Is Accepting You

Usually, when a mother cat licks and grooms their kittens, she makes them feel safe, comfortable, and accepted as a part of the furry family.

Cats continue to practice that behavior in the future. If the cat starts licking your face, it’s usually a sign that your kitty is accepting you as part of its furry family, as it cares about you a lot, and therefore the cat wants you to feel safe and protected with it.

Also, find out why do cats flop in front of their owners!

Reason No. 3 – Your Kitty Wants Your Attention

Cats will do anything for your attention, especially if you seem like you’re ignoring them. If your cat wants your attention or to play, or cuddle with you, it’s most likely that it will follow you everywhere around, headbutt you, nibble you gently, and when it gets a chance, it will also start licking your face. 

As this behavior may signify many similar things, here’s what you can do. If your cat starts licking your face, try petting it or start playing. If the cat goes with it, it means it just wants your attention. 

However, if the kitty continues expressing weird behaviors, it’s trying to tell you something else.

Reason No. 4 – Mmm, Your Cat Likes Your Taste

This one may sound weird, but cats may lick you because they like the taste of you or they’re exploring your scent. However, worry not, as your lovely kitty won’t eat you or hurt you.

Cats are very curious creatures, and they like to explore a lot. Moreover, they have very sensitive smells and can smell things we can’t. 

So, when we come home with different scents than usual, or if we start using new products such as shampoos and lotions, that may trigger the cat to explore the scents more.

Besides that, when we sweat, our skin releases salts and sugars from our bodies, which may be extremely interesting to our kitties.

Reason No. 5 – Your Cat Is Marking You

woman cuddling with her cat

One of the cat’s main behaviors is marking everything around them with their scent. So, if your cat starts licking your face, it could be that it’s marking you as its own property.

Cats have scent glands that can be found on their paws, lips, cheeks, and even rectum. So, each one of these scent glands is used for different purposes.

However, if your kitty decides to mark you, it may start licking your face, headbutt you, or even bite you gently to leave its scent on you.

If a cat marks you, it’s nothing bad, but rather a sign of the strong bond between your feline friend and you.

Reason No. 6 – Your Kitty Is Grooming You

If your feline friend is licking your face in the way of grooming, it’s just a way to show you affection and that it cares about you a lot.

Cats actually see us as big cats, and this grooming behavior is used by cats when they’re trying to show affection and that they care about each other. 

So, just like the mother cat grooms its kitten, your cat continues to groom you to show you that it’s thankful for everything and that it cares about you a lot.

By grooming, you also help form a stronger bond with your cat so that your kitty may trust you even more.

Reason No. 7 – Your Kitty Thinks Of You As A Pacifier

If you wonder why does my cat lick me all the time, it may be due to something from kittenhood.

Excessive licking may be a common behavior for cats and kittens who were weaned too early from their mother, or who were abandoned by their mother and developed an oral fixation.

That means they didn’t get the chance to suckle enough, and therefore they may start expressing licking behavior that can be self-soothing.

So, if your kitty starts licking your face, it may just be thinking of you as a human pacifier, especially if it’s followed by kneading and purring behavior, just like when they nurse.

Reason No. 8 – Your Cat Is Stressed

Besides these adorable reasons, this sweet behavior may not always indicate positive things. Sometimes, when a cat starts licking your face, it may be possible that the cat is anxious and stressed.

Usually, when cats are stressed, they show it through other behaviors. In some cases, cats may lick your face as it helps them reduce stress.

If this is the reason for your cat’s licking, you’ll be able to recognize it easily as it will be more like excessive licking.

If you notice such behavior or excessive self-grooming, then you should carefully check for possible stressors around your environment and, if you find any, reduce them to calm your cat down and make it feel safe and protected.

Reason No. 9 – Your Kitty May Be In Pain

Licking behavior may also be frequent in cats who are in pain or discomfort. 

So, if you notice that this licking behavior is also followed by symptoms such as loud meowing, excessive hiding behavior, and painful body areas, then it means that your kitty suffers from certain medical issues that require special care.

In most cases, these health issues are inflammatory bowel disease, urinary tract infections, and similar, where obviously a cat starts to lick you as a way of telling you that they’re in pain.

You may also be interested in why is your cat sitting outside your bedroom door!

Should I Let My Cat Lick My Face?

man laugh while cat licks his face

Whether you let your cats lick your face depends on you, whether you find it irritating or adorable. However, before making a final decision, you should know that cat licking has both pros and cons.

Check out the following pros and cons of letting your cat lick your face and decide whether you should or shouldn’t let the cat do that.

Pros Of Letting Your Kitty Lick Your Face

Bonding Improvement

One of the biggest benefits that cat licking brings is that it helps maintain a strong bond between you and your feline friend. 

So, if you let your kitty lick you, the cat will know that you trust it, and it will groom you back as a sign that it trusts you, too, and wants you to feel safe and protected.

When you let your kitty lick you for the first time, it means that you’re officially a member of their furry family. However, not every cat does this; there are many other ways that cats bond with their owners. 

But, if your kitty chooses this one, then choose carefully whether you will let it lick you or not, as your relationship may depend on that.

Wound Healing

According to some researchers, a cat’s saliva contains a chemical that is called histatins. This chemical has been proven to help in wound protection and speed up the healing process.

You have probably noticed that cats and dogs lick their own wounds, which heal without any creams or similar. So that may be helpful with human wounds too. 

What’s interesting even more is that it was found out that cat saliva produces nitric oxide when it comes in contact with human skin. That actually helps in creating a barrier on the wound that keeps it safe from infections.

However, we’re not sure whether this is helpful or not. In any case, you need to be very careful. 

If you have a wound, I advise you to consult with your doctor about the problem and let him treat it properly, as the cat’s mouth may be dirty and full of bacteria, so you wouldn’t want to risk possible infections in your wounds.

Cons Of Letting Your Kitty Lick Your Face

woman pets cat

Increased Risk Of Health Issues

As mentioned previously, a cat’s mouth and saliva may be full of bacteria. So, if you let your kitty lick your face, you should be aware that these bacteria and parasites may be transferred to you. Some of the bacteria that cats can transfer you are:

• Pasteurella – the risk of severe infections and lymph nodes.

• Bacteria such as e. coli, salmonella, clostridia, and similar, can trigger serious intestinal issues in humans.

• Bartonella henselae – this bacteria can affect humans and cause cat scratch fever and different face infections.

Some cases of these infections may lead to different brain disorders, skin problems, blindness, or similar serious health issues. 

Therefore, if you want to let your cat lick you, it’s especially important to keep your feline friend indoors and treat it for possible bacteria and parasites to keep both yourself and your kitty healthy. 

However, you should never let an outdoor cat lick you if you want to avoid these issues.

It’s Unhygienic

You should think very carefully before letting your kitty lick your face. Even though cats are considered to be one of the cleanest animals, that doesn’t mean they’re completely clean.

That actually refers to the fact that these animals spend most of their time cleaning and grooming themselves.

So, when cats clean and groom themselves, they usually use their tongue. With the same tongue, a cat may lick you after that. 

If you want to keep yourself free from health issues, I advise you to stop the cat licks, as they may lick you right after cleaning their anus or eating something outdoors. That may cause you many different problems or infections.

So if you want to bond with your feline, I think there are many other ways besides this one that didn’t turn out to be very hygienic. 

If you treat your kitty right and provide it with a lot of love and affection, it will definitely know that you care about it, so you don’t need licking to prove anything.

You may also want to know why is your cat meowing and rubbing against everything!

How To Stop Your Cat From Licking Your Face?

woman playing with cat

So, for pet parents who decide not to let their cat lick them or find that behavior unpleasant, certain things can help you stop your cat from repeating that behavior.

If you want to stop your cat from licking your face, you should:

• Redirect the cat’s attention – you need to keep an eye on the cat’s behavior in order to know what to do. 

So, if your cat tries to lick you, you should redirect its attention by using its favorite cat toys and start playing, or cat food, or other things that your cat likes the most.

• Ignore the cat – if you see that your cat is about to lick your face, you should stand up and walk away. Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the cat all the time, only when it tries to lick you. 

That way, you’ll show your cat that you don’t want it to lick you as it makes you feel uncomfortable. However, after ignoring it, make sure to provide your cat with an interesting activity so that you two can bond in another way.

• Train your kitty – training and socializing are an important part of the cat’s life. It’s crucial to start training them from a young age. 

So, let the cat know that you don’t want it to lick your face. When the cat stays away from your face, you can reward it with a favorite treat or pet it so that it understands what you want.

If you want to stop your cat from licking your face, you should NEVER :

Spray the cat with water

• Yell at the cat

• Punish the cat

• Hit the cat

It is best never to do these things as it may interrupt your relationship with your cat. Your kitty may stop trusting you and be even more stressed and anxious.

FAQ

woman hugging maine coon cat

Do Cat Licks Mean Kisses?

Cat Licks can be compared to kisses because all of these types of behaviors, such as love bites, licks, headbutting, and similar, are expressed by felines when they want to show love and affection to their humans.

Should I Lick My Cat Back?

You shouldn’t lick your cat back. The main reason for that is that our tongue and saliva are way different than theirs, and we may accidentally swallow their hair which isn’t really healthy. 

Additionally, your cat may not feel comfortable if you lick it, mostly because they aren’t used to you showing them affection by licking them.

Why Does It Hurt When My Cat Licks Me?

If your kitty licks you, it won’t hurt, but it’s way different than being licked by a dog, for example. The reason for that is because a cat’s tongue is covered in papillae. 

The same material can be found in cats’ claws, so because of that, their tongue is a bit rough; therefore, it’s often compared to sandpaper. However, that rough tongue helps them when eating and grooming themselves.

Final Thoughts

Finally, cats have different ways of expressing their feelings toward their owners, and one of these behaviors is also licking. So, if you’re wondering why does my cat lick my face, this article provides you with nine possible reasons for this behavior.

Some cat owners consider this cat behavior cute and adorable, while some avoid it. Well, I understand that because licking behavior has both pros and cons. 

Eventually, it turns out that it’s better not to let your kitty lick your face; however, that’s something every cat parent chooses for themselves.

If you wish your cat to stop licking your face, luckily, this article provides you with useful pieces of advice on how to do that. So, read them carefully, and find better ways to bond with your feline friend.

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