Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Him? Top 6 Reasons

The feeling of being licked by your cat is adorable, but it may not be one of your favourite things. We often think cats lick us as a sign of affection, but the sandpaper-like tongues of cats are not pleasant to touch on our skin.

A lot of time is spent by cats grooming themselves every day. They have small hooks called papillae on the tip of their tongues that are used to grab and remove dirt from coats. Their instincts have trained them to clean with these special tongues.

A cat’s tendency to lick its owner brings the most frequently asked questions by cat owners “Why does my cat lick me when I pet him/her?”

The truth is that Licking your hand is usually the result of a cat’s social grooming or marking its territory by spreading its scent. Both of these are reassuring signs that your cat is happy and valued. Thus, they are in a way showing affection. However, licking while being handled might also be a sign that your cat is getting too excited and needs you to stop.

You will find detailed information about all these reasons in this article, as well as some tips to keep in mind the next time your cat licks you.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Her

Reasons Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Pet Her

You might be surprised to find that there are several theories as to why a cat might lick your hand which are as follows.

1. Your Actions are Seen by Your Cat as Social Grooming

Cats routinely lick themselves to self-groom and keep their opulent fur coats clean. However, cats also engage in social grooming, which is known scientifically as allogrooming.

Most typically, a mother cat and her kittens exhibit this behaviour in domestic cats. The mother will lick the babies’ hairy coats to keep them clean. But communal grooming also occurs in wild cat colonies. Therefore, if you have many cats living with you, you could also observe that they keep grooming one another as they become older.

2. Marking You as Their Territory

Why your cat licks your hand after touching her is that it has territorial tendencies. Because they like to claim ownership of the area where they spend most of their time, cats are particularly territorial creatures.

Cats mark their territory with behaviours such as scent rubbing, scratching, and spraying. Pheromones are chemical signals that are left behind on the surface of items when your cat engages in any of these three behaviours: peeing, rubbing, or scratching. The pheromones of each cat serve to effectively mark out each cat’s territory since they are unique to each cat.

3. It Seems Like Your kitty is Overstimulated

As a way to discourage owners from petting their cats, some cats behave like that. Sometimes, your cat no longer appears to enjoy being petted.

They want you to quit touching them because of the painful sensation their sharp tongue would cause to scratch their rough tongue on your fingers. Many cats seem to like being petted, which may swiftly change their mood.

You may even see your cat try to get you away by lightly biting your hand if you don’t understand this warning sign. There is often a tremendous amount of confusion among owners when a cat seems to love receiving a pet and then changes their mood in a matter of seconds.

Check Out: Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Pet Her?

4. Your Cat is Worried

Grooming is one method that cats use to feel comfortable. Adult cats still lick themselves to feel more secure and calm down (just like their mothers did when they were little). In other words, your cat could be licking you because they are stressed out or anxious. Cats may feel uncomfortable in the following situations:

  • The arrival of a new child or animal in the household
  • Changes to their environment, such as relocating or adding new furnishings and decorations to their house
  • Switching to a new brand of cat food or litter
  • Arranging a visit to the vet
  • The modification of their feeding or routine
  • Unexpectedly loud noises like fireworks.

The most likely cause of your cat licking your hand when you pet them is stress if your cat starts licking your hand in one of the above scenarios

It is nothing to be concerned about at this point in terms of this stress-related licking. Your cat is licking you as a means of comforting itself, and it will soon relax after cuddling with its favourite human.

5. To Taste Something Fascinating

A far more logical explanation for why cats lick your hand when you stroke them is that they are drawn to something tasty on your fingertips. It’s conceivable that you haven’t cleansed your hands after preparing fish or chicken for supper or after feeding your cat. If this is the case, your cat can still detect the enticing odours on your hands.

6. To Draw Your Focus

Another explanation for your cat’s behaviour is that they are licking you to try to catch your attention. Whether they want to be caressed, fed, or otherwise cared for, your cat may lick you to seek your attention.

Intresting Reading: Why Does My Cat Lick My Face?

Should I let My Cat Lick Me?

Cat owners have different preferences in terms of bonding time with their cats, so it is up to you whether you want your cat to lick your hands or face. You can encourage bonding between you and your cat by allowing it to give you a few kisses. In spite of this, allowing your cat to lick your face can have both pros and cons, so it’s best to refrain from doing so as a precaution. 

Should I let My Cat Lick Me


1. Provide Protection and Aid in Wound Healing:

According to Research, The saliva of cats contains histatins, a chemical that promotes the spread of new skin cells, thus helping wounds heal faster. So if you have a wound on your face or hand, your cat’s saliva may help, just as it does for them

. In addition to producing nitric oxide when it comes in contact with human skin, cat saliva also serves as an effective barrier to wounds and discourages bacteria from growing.

2. Strong Bonding and Trust

By letting your cat lick you, you are showing your cat that you trust her and that you are honoured to groom her. It may also be a sign that your cat is becoming comfortable with you.


1. Health Risk

ats’ saliva is filled with parasites and bacteria, which is why, as much as it’s beneficial to be licked by your cat, there are also impending dangers. If you allow your cat to lick your hands or face, you might become infected.

Pasteurella bacteria can cause lymph node infections and infections, while Bartonella henselae can cause cat scratch fever.

Although some of these bacteria are not deadly, some of them can cause serious intestinal diseases in humans, such as E.coli and salmonella.

It is also possible for parasitic worms from cats to infect people through licking, causing skin problems, blindness, intestinal disease, brain disorders, and even blindness. 

2. Unhygienic

While you try your best to keep your cat’s tongue and mouth clean, you never know what it comes into contact with. If your cat licks you on the hands or face, you can contract a variety of diseases or infections. For example, she could have caught a mouse and eaten it or she could have licked her backside before licking you.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Hand When I Pet Her?

The reality is that when cats lick your palm, they often release their scent, either to groom themselves or to establish their territory.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Hand When I Pet Her

As a way of establishing trust and forming social bonds, cats groom each other and other pets. Some would say that this could be why your cat licks your hand as a way to indicate affection. It’s a nurturing, friendly behaviour meant to show that they value you.

Both of these are comforting indications that your cat is content and appreciated. Thus, they are in a sense expressing love.

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me?

Giving affectionate licks and bites is a sign that your cat cares for you. It may be trying to be cuddly, or it may just be acting rough. This is a natural way cats interact with the environment and is not to be taken too seriously. The love bites from your cat are fine, but you cannot show and accept inordinate amounts of affection from them

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me

Observe them closely when they lick or bite us since this is how they express their wants or feelings, whether it is to express affection, demand attention, or ask for alone time.

However, if your cat seems to be biting aggressively, then it could mean that your cat is distressed. You might want to stop petting or cuddling them if they seem anxious about their surroundings. Likewise, cats may go on the offensive if they’re overstimulated, so if this is their feeling, they may try to stop it.

Knowing your cat better will help you understand what triggers aggressive behaviour. By watching out for signs of stress or agitation, you can let your cat feel safe until he feels ready to interact again.

Also Read: Why Is My Cat Licking My Other Cats Bum?

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my cat licks me?

The greatest thing you can do to stop this behaviour is to make an effort to divert their attention. If your cat enjoys being petted, try doing so to discourage them from licking. The same holds true for getting them to focus on playing rather than licking by giving them a toy.

Why do cats lick themselves when they are petted?

After you pet them, some cats may groom themselves to mask your fragrance and emphasise their own. keeping their eyes closed. Self-licking or grooming are coping mechanisms for certain cats. Some cats may brush themselves to relax when they’re anxious (which gives them comfort)

Is it okay for my cat to lick my hair?

Generally, the cat won’t be harmed by licking your hair -think about how often he licks his own hair without any issues! It is important to watch out, however, to ensure they are not eating your hair or becoming sick after they “groom” you.

It would be best if you removed the hair from the cat’s reach immediately if you want the cat to stop licking your hair. If you keep doing that, Your cat should learn over time that it isn’t something that you are interested

Why are cats’ tongues so scratchy?

The reason for the cat’s scratchy tongue is that it contains hundreds of papillae, which are tiny spines found on the back of the tongue which help keep the animal clean. There are so many amazing uses for these papillae.

According to research, the papillae are scoop-shaped and hollow, allowing saliva to be stored and held within the spines.

Their ability to strip the meat from bones enables them to extract the most amount of nutrients from their prey as quickly and efficiently in a short amount of time

Final Thoughts!

Most of the time, your cat is trying to build trust with you and see you as a member of the family. She loves you because of this. Licking, however, may also be a symptom of overstimulation or anxiety, so be mindful of the different indications I’ve listed above. You can then evaluate whether or not her propensity for licking is cause for alarm.

You may not first find your cat’s sandpaper-like tongue particularly comfortable scraping across the surface of your skin, but if you think of it as a way to deepen your bond with them, you’ll rapidly grow fond of this adorable habit.

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LearnAboutCat Author Isabella

Who is Isabella?

My name is Isabella, and I am a dedicated and knowledgeable cat enthusiast. With years of experience caring for cats and a deep love for felines, I made a mission to help other cat lovers navigate the challenges of cat ownership.

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