Cats are really enigmatic creatures. Although they can be wonderful pets, their behavior can often confuse us and sometime be even bizarre. For example, have you ever wondered why a cat licks you?
According to experts there can be several reasons for this behavior, and here are some of them.
1. To show affection
If your cat starts licking you while cuddling, it may be trying to show affection and socialize with you. Cats usually lick to clean themselves, using their tongue to remove dirt and excess fur from their bodies. However, if they are in the same social group with another cat, they will sometimes use their tongue and nurture each other. Nurturing each other helps cats establish close relationships, and that can sometimes happen between species.
Cats can show affection in many other ways, such as eye contact, body language, and purring sounds.
2. To pick up scents
They pick up scents. “Cats lick to wash, but they can also lick us to pick up our scent. Body odor or sweat can also excite cats, which is why they sometimes do sniff us under the armpits.
Cats have a very good sense of smell, 14 times stronger than humans. It is the primary way they identify people and objects, and they have more than 200 million nasal odor sensors, compared to five million that are found in people.
Another reason for licking could be sharing their own scent. Sharing their own odor helps cats show that the other cat is part of their social group and can be trusted. So if a cat licks you, it could just be marking you so it will know in future that you are a part of its social group or family.
3. You may taste good to your cat
It sounds strange, but sometimes your skin tastes good to cats. Maybe it’s the lotion you use or maybe your sweat is a little salty. Cats will lick what they find tasty, and sometimes this will be your skin.
4. Licking makes them feel good
They feel good during this behavior. In addition to collecting scents, nurturing and showing affection by licking, cats also enjoy it. It’s known that that licking releases endorphins into their brains, which makes them feel good.
It gives them natural pleasure, so it is understandable that they can do it on any occasion, even if it means they will lick you instead.
5. To relieve anxiety and stress
Your cat may be licking you because it’s stressed. Even though too much licking can be a sign of a medical issue, cats can lick their owners and themselves as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. This behavior usually happens when the cat changes its environment, like when you move to a new home or when you take your cat on a trip.
When is licking not normal ?
Although licking is a normal and mostly a positive thing, when your cat starts licking you too much, it can be a bad sign. Your cat could be stressed and the release of endorphins may be necessary for it to relieve anxiety. This can manifest as a compulsive adjustment, known as psychogenic alopecia, which can be caused by a change in the cat’s routine or environment.
On the other hand, if the cat licks itself too much, to the point where it creates bald spots on its fur, that could be a sign of an allergy or other skin disease.
In this case take your cat to the vet to see if they can help you identify the cause, experts say.
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