My cat Hiro is quite the licker. He’s always licking my hands, my face or my hair. And Hiro isn’t the only licker among the cats. Some do it to wake you up in the morning or because they are hungry. Some lick your hair, some prefer your fingers. But why do they lick?
The first things kittens experience before they open their eyes is their mother licking and washing them. Grooming is a sign of love and caring but they also get a lot of information through licking. They start to explore the world through their tongue. Kittens also learn to associate licking or being licked with the safe, secure feeling they have around their mother when they are still little.
This could mean that if a cat is licking you, he is grooming you and also accepts you and wants to take care of you–he loves you. Grooming is a form of social interaction.
Some cats might like the salty taste of your skin, but it could also be the hand lotion you just put on. Or the taste of your shower gel. They may also be trying to get rid of the weird taste you have on your skin.
When your cat keeps licking you–even keeping you awake at night–you might consider options to stop this behavior.
- Spray a bit of bitter apple or citrus fruit on your face. Cats hate the taste (watch out for your eyes).
- Make things more appealing to them. For example: You can place a warmed blanket by your feet. They may prefer the warmth of the blanket to licking your hands.
- Praise good behavior. You can do this with treats or just simple petting. But every time your cat licks you, you ignore him. If he doesn’t lick you for about ten seconds, you praise him.
- You can also distract your cat. If you figure out he is grooming you because he is bored, go play with him.