If you've been around cats at all, you will likely have seen them licking themselves, which is their way of taking a bath! Their tongues are particularly well suited for this job. They have tiny little barbs on them to help remove dirt and loose hair from their fur. These little spines are what make their tongues feel like sandpaper when they are licking you!
But, why do my cats lick me? What does it mean when a cat licks you?
According to PetMD, there are several possible reasons.
When I first noticed my cat licking me, I thought maybe they were trying to see if I would make a good dinner. That's not quite the answer, but PetMD does note that it could have to do with them liking the way you taste. They say human perspiration has sugar and salts that cats might find appealing, or that you might have a lotion or shampoo that smells interesting that might make it interesting for a cat to lick you.
Another answer for the question "why do cats lick you" may be that they really are giving you kisses! Back to PetMD, they say that Mother's groom their kittens, and cats groom each other, which strengthens their bonds which each other, so they may be licking you to strengthen their bond with you!
TheSprucePets.com offers another reason your cat might be licking you, and it's to mark their territory. Licking or rubbing against you may help them to claim you as their own!
Along with that TheSprucePets.com suggests that your cat sees you as part of their cat family, but maybe not the smartest part of the family, so if a cat licks you it might be to try to teach you how to groom yourself! They might also be able to sense if you are feeling anxious or sick, and so when cats lick you they might be trying to help you calm down.
And there's more! Another answer for why does a cat lick you might just to be to get your attention. If you always respond to a lick from a cat, PetMD notes that you might have inadvertently trained them to associate licking with the response. So, if they want a reaction from you, cats that lick might be doing it because they have learned that that is a good way to get your reaction!
There could be more a more concerning reason for why your cat licks you. PetMD mentions a case where a cat was licking excessively and they found that it had a medical issue, so if your cat's licking habits have changed recently or if they seem to be going overboard with their licking, it is probably time to check with the vet!
it safe that the cat is licking me?
We'll break that into 2 questions. Is it safe for you to be licked by a cat?
Back to PetMD, they note that it is very rare to get a disease from your cat, but that they do carry bacteria in their mouths, so it's a good idea to not let your cat lick your face or any open cuts on your skin.
Is it safe for the cat licking you?
Certain topical treatments can be dangerous to pets if licked. I recently saw this note on Facebook that the pain cream Voltaren is toxic to dogs and cats, so if you are applying any products to your skin or hair, it is a good idea to run it by your veterinarian to make sure it is ok if your cat licks it! And, as mentioned before, if your cat is licking you so much that it seems excessive, it is a good time to check that out with the vet too!
So, there is no one answer to the question "why does my cat lick me", but most of the possible reasons for sandpaper kisses seem to have to do with your cat's affection for you and their accepting you as part of the family! We here at catswhereitsat.com will take a few tongue scrapes to know our cats see us as one of them!