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Why does my cat lick me?

 by yunus on 24 Aug 2016 |
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Dogs lavish us with kisses, but cats are often more subtle in their displays of affection. While a sandpapery tongue isn’t always the sign of love we’d imagined, grooming us is our cat’s way of showing a strong trust and bond.
 
Cats spend a great deal of time grooming. This is part of the social bonding between a mother and her kittens as well as between cats that aren’t related, but share a strong connection. Not only does social grooming help felines clean hard-to-reach places, such as the top of their heads, but it also allows cats to exchange scents— a key part of bonding and communication in the feline world. Mother cats mark their kittens in this way, and it is not unusual for your cat to “claim” you with a bath. When he licks you, then, Kitty is not only lavishing you with affection, but is also marking you with his scent. This may sound territorial, and it is, but this practice is just another way your cat shows you belong to his inner circle of friends.
 
While licking is most often a source of bonding between owners and their cats, compulsive bathing can be a sign that something’s wrong. Grooming is a soothing and comforting behavior for cats, so overly anxious felines may start bathing to relieve stress. Anything from introducing a new pet to the household to taking your cat to the vet can trigger anxiety, so if this seems to be the cause behind Kitty’s compulsive bathing, try to remedy the stressful situation and give him some extra attention. If, however, your cat suddenly starts grooming vigorously for seemingly no reason, he could be in pain. Everything from fleabites to skin infections can trigger this behavior, so keep an eye out for health problems and seek your veterinarian’s advice. Experts agree that cats that were weaned too early tend to rely on the comforting action of bathing and are more likely to lick, too.
 
While cats’ baths are usually a sign that your pet has accepted you into his closest circle of friends, you may not always want a sandpapery tongue greeting. To avoid your cat’s kisses, learn the signs that he is about to start bathing you and distract him with a toy or treat instead. Playing with your cat often helps you bond with him, too. Remember, if your cat is licking you, it is a sign that he feels safe and secure and is truly welcoming you as a member of his family.

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