Different animals have their various identifying behaviors such as dog’s kissing and cats’ licking. While most of these actions are common, it is good to know why they like to lick you. It gives a cat owner some idea about the condition of the pet physically and psychologically. Since they are non-verbal by nature, their actions help them express their needs and feelings for their masters to know about it.
Cats have the highest honor when it comes to animal grooming. They are the only members of the animal kingdom who are equipped with what they need for cleaning themselves. Their forepaws act as substitute washcloths, which are moistened with saliva, and used to wipe themselves clean. Their tongues are spiked for more thorough licking. When they lick their masters though, it is definitely not to groom their humans. There are more complicated reasons behind this behavior. Some are even something to be cautious about, so it is good to know what these justifications behind their actions.
Licking as a form of affection
Probably one of the most common reasons why cats lick their owners is to show their affection. The act of licking is their way of hugging their owners especially when the person is in emotional distress. Most domesticated animals develop an instinct of sharing, if not fully understanding, the emotions that are haunting their owners. Cats, specifically, try to lessen the negative emotions by licking as their way of saying they are there for their owners.
Licking as a way to get attention
Like anyone else, pets want attention from their loved ones, and there is no one more important for them than their owners. When they feel neglected, out of place or just lonely. They merely get their faces closed to you and started to lick. They are only telling you that they need you to play with them or pet them or just spend time with them.
Licking as marking their territory
Similar to many other creatures, cats also use their pheromones to communicate with their fellow feline. When they lick you in the face, arms or legs, they are telling the other cats that you are their human. It might sound obsessive if humans do it, but cats have their way of being sweet and cuddly. Their action is a way of showing the world, including the cat world, that you are valuable to them.
Licking as a sign of attraction
When something looks or smells delicious, it is natural to feel a desire to have a taste of it. The same works for cats up to some point. One reason they like to lick you is when their sense of smell gets some right signals from your side. It might be that you have recently consumed something really tasty or even carrying some treats with you.
Licking as a compliment
Generally, the cat’s act of licking is always a form of compliment. It means that you are someone important to them that they allow themselves to be as close to you as possible. Not everyone is given this access by these feline creatures. They have a sense of being picky also when it comes to the humans they allow themselves to be close with.
Licking as an anxious reaction
Cats also tend to resort to licking when they are faced with a situation that makes them anxious. Licking your face gives them a sense of comfort and assurance that you are there for them in their time of anxiety. Your presence is their antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, and they feel the impact of your presence when they lick you.
Abnormal licking behaviors
There are cases though where cats that are suddenly into licking when they are originally not as much into it. This is something a pet owner should look into as the change in the behavior is most likely caused by something negative. Animals do not suddenly develop certain habits unless these are highly motivated by either internal or external factors.
It is important to note that there are actually medical problems among cats that cause excessive licking behavior. One such example is referred to as feline hyperesthesia. Another case that usually comes up is licking with very high frequency. This is not yet found to be associated with other symptoms or problems but is causing discomfort for many people.
The problem with pets that lick too much is how it ends up feeling so rough and painful for their owners. This is not something that they intentionally do though. Their tongues are full of papillae that have razing and rasping abilities, resulting in human skin irritation and scraping. Because of this, many cat owners are up on their toes looking for a way to stop pets from too much licking.
How to eliminate excessive licking behavior
Distraction works very effectively when handling a cat’s frequent licking. When it starts to do so, you can get its attention directed to something else. Whether it is to a toy or the outside activity, it helps keep your feline pet away from your own face and skin.
If you have the free time to spend with your pet, you should play with it. This is a form of bonding between you and your furry friend and facilitates the cat’s psychological well-being at the same time. The chemicals released in the cat’s body during playtime and exercise work to make it feel content and relaxed.
In severe cases that require drastic actions, some owners resolve to apply something nasty on their skin. When their pets take a taste of this substance, the adverse reaction to the substance gets associated with the licking behavior. They will avoid licking you as they know there is a chance they will end up tasting the same nasty substance.
The downside to this method though is the fact that it will drive your pet away from you. In the worst case, the cat will associate the unpleasant taste with you as a whole. This means your own pet will start disliking you. There will be no more licking and no more liking.
You should allow and enjoy the attention and affection that your cat has to shower on you. Even though showering involves a bit of their drool, you should find comfort in the fact that your cat loves you. There is no wrong with stopping them when they get too rough but make sure not to drive them away entirely.
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