Why do cats lick you? Cats are wonderful pets, but their behavior can often leave us baffled. Cats are enigmatic creatures, why do they run their little rough sandpaper-like tongue across your arm or face? Well, as it turns out this action can be for a myriad of reasons.
Sign of Affection
If your cat starts licking you while you're cuddled up together, it could be that they're trying to show affection and make friends with you. Cats are usually quite happy to just groom themselves, using their rough tongue to remove any dirt and excess fur from their body. However, if they're in the same social group as another cat, they may lend a helping tongue and groom each other. This helps them to form a close bond, and it can sometimes happen across species too. Felines can also show affection in many other ways, such as through eye contact, body language, and making sounds such as purring.
Cats lick to wash but they also can lick us to gather scents from us. Our body scent or sweat can excite cats also, which is why some nuzzle up under our armpits. Cats have a very good sense of smell, 14 times stronger than humans. They have more than 200 million odor sensors in their noses, in comparison with the 5 million that humans have. It is the primary way they identify people and objects.
To Feel Good
As well as gathering scent, grooming and showing affection, cats also gain pleasure from licking. This releases "feel good" hormones, called endorphins, in their brains.
Although licking is normal and largely a positive thing, when your feline begins licking too much it can be a bad sign. Due to the release of endorphins when a cat is stressed it may turn to lick to release anxiety. If they're licking you, or themselves, excessively then they could be feeling stressed or anxious, so take them to a vet to see if they can help identify a cause.
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