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Why Does My Cat Lick My Head

Why Do Cats Like The Smell Of Feet

A pair of human feet has about 250,000 sweat glands, producing half a pint of sweat every day. While humans cant smell their own scent, cats can identify their owners through the pheromones released through their sweat.

Cats have 200 million scent receptors in their nose, so their sense of smell is much more advanced than ours. An owners scent is highly concentrated on the feet. A cat will feel comforted by this and will place itself near to its owners feet, where it feels most happy, safe, and relaxed.

Also, bare feet capture scents from the ground, which tell a story about where the owner has been. Cats have a special organ located in the roof of the mouth, called the Jacobsons organ, to taste the scents and pheromones in the air. This helps cats seek out familiar smells and gives them information about animals and people in the area.

Cats are interested in these unfamiliar smells and will sniff their owners feet to find out more about their adventures. Dont be alarmed if your cat acts displeased about what it can sense as they can be jealous animals and may react aggressively to the scent of another cat or prey creature.

You might also find that your cat sits close to your shoes or gives them a good sniff when you take them off. This is for the same reasons your shoes contain your scent, especially if youve worn them without socks. Pheromones are also contained within the shoes, telling a story about you that your cat is interested in learning about.

Is Licking My Hair Bad For My Cat

Luckily, Dr. Delgado says most cats steer clear if they smell or taste something odd. If your cat does start vomiting or has diarrhea after licking your hair, maybe keep her away from your locks. 

Should your cats hair-licking behavior become a nuisance to you , stop the action as soon as it starts by simply leaving the room. Try not to give them attention when they do it, advises Dr. Delgado. Misting your hair with a citrus-scented or apple cider vinegar spray could also help keep your cats tongue to herself. 

Why Do Cats Lick Their Young

Adult cats will usually spend a large part of their time licking their kittens. They do so both to identify them as members of their family as well as warning others that this kittens are part of their territory. This means they will best protect them against anything which tries to cause them harm.

In fact, if the mother does not lick their cat enough it can give them a change in smell which can even lead to rejection. Mothers will reject their kittens if they seem unfamiliar or if they have an illness. Licking strengthens a necessary bond, without which there can be severe trouble.

Sign Of Excessive Boredom

In some situations, excessive scratching and licking might actually be a sign of boredom and anxiety. Your cat might not be living a fulfilling life so one way for him to try release stress is by scratching himself all the time. Please be sure to dedicate enough playtime and attention to your cat every day.


Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Licks You

Why does my cat lick my nose?

Although it may be impossible to say for sure, researchers, veterinarians, and cat behavior experts have suggested a number of reasons why your cat may lick you every now and again. Lets dig in

1. To show affection

For cats, licking is not only used as a grooming mechanism, but also to show affection. By licking you, other cats, or even other pets, your cat is creating a social bond. Part of this behavior may stem from kittenhood when your cats mother licked to groom them, as well as to show care and affection. Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their humans to pass along the same sentiment.

Many cats carry this behavior into their adult lives, licking their owners to pass along the same sentiment. 

2. To mark their territory

Although there are a number of ways that cats mark their territory, including cheek rubbing, scratching licking is another behavior that cats might use to claim something as their own. 

In this case, if your cat is licking you, theyre trying to ensure that other cats or animals know who you belong to them!

3. To groom you

Even though your cat might not realize that licking you isnt actually helping you get clean, this behavior is completely natural to them. As we mentioned earlier, mother cats groom their kittens in order to teach them to do it for themselves, show them affection, and create a bond.

4. To taste something interesting

5. To get your attention

6. To cope with anxiety or stress

How To Get Your Cat To Stop Licking You

For a behavior thats often about love and emotional closeness, its tricky to tell your cat to stop without jeopardizing your relationship.

Koski says some people will attempt to prevent the behavior altogether by applying something that tastes bad to cats to their own skin. The idea is that the cat wont like the taste and wont lick you in the future. She says it can have an undesired effect, however, and the cat may begin to associate the unpleasant experience with you in a more general way, which can be problematic. The same holds true for any type of punishment that you might dole out in response to licking.

If you feel like your cat is licking you excessively, the best thing you can do is redirect her actions, Koski says. I have a cat who loves snuggling with me and licking my face. What I’ll typically do is simply move my face away from him and either offer my head to nuzzle against or I will pet him so that he just enjoys the petting and stops licking.

If that doesnt work, Koski recommends simply walking away when licking becomes excessive, which causes the cat to associate licking you with you disappearing. With time and consistency, your cat should learn that you are a lick-free zone.

Why Do Cats Lick You Cats Lick As A Means Of Social Bonding

The first step in answering Why do cats lick you? is knowing that kittens groom each other, and older cats who arent related but get along well also spend time grooming one another. Often, theyll get the spots that are hard for a cat to reach by themselves, such as the top of the head and inside the ears. Exchanging scents through grooming also increases the bond between a pair of cats.

Why It Sometimes Hurts When A Cat Licks You

It can sometimes hurt when a cat licks you, especially if your cat does this excessively and in the same place. This is because of special back-facing barbs on your cats tongue called papillae. These barbs are made from the same material as your cats claws, which explains why their tongue feels like sandpaper.

These barbs are important when your cat grooms themselves. The barbs help to remove dirt and debris from a cats coat. If the barbs werent sharp they would not be able to pick up this dirt and a cat would not be able to keep himself or herself as clean.

Cats Lick To Relieve Stress

Another way licking connects to grooming is that cats lick when they are stressed.

They do this because of the following reasons:

  • It feels good.
  • It helps in getting rid of the dirt.
  • They are soothing a particular part of the body.

If you are wondering why cats lick that often, then you should know this. Licking feels like a massage for the cats. However, with humans, licking is a bit ticklish. Cats dont even realize that, but it can be a little bit abrasive for humans sometimes.

If you have a couple of cats or more, then youll experience this kind of behavior from them. They lick you obsessively to intimidate the other cat, chase them away, or show the other cat that the human is like their property. Still, it is better to lick than pee for marking the territory.

Cats May Lick To Mark Territory Through Scenting Showing Other Cats Youre Theirs

The act of grooming leaves that particular cats scent on whatever or whomever a cat happens to be grooming its part of the reason cats groom their feline family members.

Scenting helps a cat tell other cats that thing, place, or person is theirs, so your cat may be marking you as his or hers while licking your fingers and hand.

Cats Who Lick Their Humans May Also Be Doing So Because They Like The Taste And Texture Of Skin

Cats enjoy a lot of peculiar tastes and textures. A lot of cats like the taste and texture of thin plastic, like the type garbage bags are made of.

My cats fit into this category, both liking to lick plastic and chew plastic at times.

Bjorn once took to licking bars of soap, however, a habit that reminds everyone whos heard of Jenna Marbles of her dog Kermits obsession with soap.

It feels like quite an odd thing to like the texture and taste of, but cats do like animal fat, so on another level it makes sense.

There might be something about the taste and texture of skin that attracts cats who like licking it.

Cats Lick Each Other For Bonding

Licking is not only functional. It can also be a physical display of the confidence in each other some cats feel when together. This is called social grooming and it has several reasons behind it. One of them is simply to strengthen the bond between two or more felines. It is also important to remember that even hairless cats will lick themselves and each other as staying clean is important with or without fur.

If your cats do this, it means they love and trust each other very much. They feel relaxed when they are together and they are happy to express this. Like any trust exercise, it opens them up to being vulnerable and it is something which may not necessarily happen easily. In this instances, the licks are usually concentrated in the facial area and the ears, a cat’s favorite places to show some love.

Cats May Like The Taste Of A Shampoo Conditioner Or Other Hair Product You Use

Why Does My Cat Lick The Floor? (6 Reasons + When to Worry)

My cat Bjorn likes to lick some types of soap. I think its because of the ingredients in the soap maybe the oil and fat in them?

To get around this problem, I bought citrus and lavender smelling soaps, as my cats, like most cats, absolutely hate the smell of orange and other citrus, as well as lavender. Bjorn hasnt tried to lick soaps since the switch.

Im sure there are some shampoos that, like the soap I was using, attract felines to them due to their ingredients.

My solution to Bjorn licking soap can also be used if you have a cat who licks your hair when youre not a fan of this behaviour. Simply get a shampoo or shampoo & conditioner combo that smells of citrus, like , or if you like that scent more.

Even if your cat isnt attracted to your hair because of the taste of your shampoo, conditioner, or other hair product , if you use a shampoo that smells of something your cat dislikes, you have a very good chance of changing your cats behaviour, encouraging them to stay away from the licking hair behaviour altogether.

Be Patient When Your Cats Lick You

Its not easy to retrain a cat who has gotten used to performing a habitual behavior such as licking. Remember to stay gentle and avoid yelling or intense physical reactions like shoving your cat or tossing her off your lap. And never, ever hit your cat.

Tell us: Have you been able to rehabilitate a compulsive licker? Please tell us in the comments how you did it.

This piece was originally published in 2015. 

When Your Cat Licks Your Face Its Likely A Form Of Socializing & Showing Affection Like When We Pet Cats

If you have a cat who licks your face, the fact that he or she is likely doing it as a form of socialization and affection most likely crossed your mind first as the likely explanation behind why.

I absolutely think theres an enormous case to be made for this explanation. Many cats do like to be pet and cuddled, and it would make sense if they reciprocated this type of positive physical attention with equivalents of their own.

Batting And Biting Hair Is Play Behavior

Another reason cats will bite at your hair is that they may think of it as a fun toy. Cats do enjoy playing with long stringy objects like yarn, ribbons and streamers, so sometimes cats will bite at and bat your hair with their paws or bite it because it’s simply a lot of fun. You, however, may not find this as much fun as he does, so the best thing to do is to move him gently away from your hair and get up and walk away. Or, you can pull out a toy similar to your hair, like a toy attached to a string. Redirect him towards pouncing and chasing the toy any time he goes for your hair, so he eventually gets the idea that your hair really isn’t much fun at all.

It Gives Your Cat Fond Memories Of Her Kittenhood

Your cat may be giving you a tongue bath as her way of showing you that she feels secure in your company. It gives her a chance to continue what she has learned as a kitten when her mother used to give her tongue baths to groom her. This gesture may be her way of telling you that youre a member of the family and nurturing you by keeping your hair clean. 

Cats That Lick Hands Could Really Enjoy Licking The Texture Of Skin

Some cats really love the texture of specific objects.

For example, lots of cats chew thin plastic shopping bags, lick those plastic bags, or even bite and chew on things made out of plastic in general.

It wouldnt surprise me to learn the texture of skin on hands and fingers is really appealing to some cats.

When Cat Licking Can Hurt And How To Get It To Stop

Heres when this otherwise normal cat behavior can become troublesome. 

If your cat’s licking is frequent and compulsive, it can be a sign of nervousness or even an anxiety disorder, Wieber says. Along with licking themselves and you, your cat licking windows, plastics, and other things around the house can indicate something is wrong. Call your cat’s veterinarian to get a better idea of what’s going on and schedule an appointment.

Cat licking can also be harmful if your furry feline likes licking your head, Wieber says. Any product you use to style your hair won’t be good for your cat, and the hair itself can be long and end up forming a hairball obstruction in the cat’s digestive system. If you suspect that’s happened, head to the vet right away.

But there’s an easy way to get that to stop, Wieber says. You can wear a cap of some kind when you sleep to block your cat from accessing your head, or you can separate yourself and your cat to prevent that behavior. 

You can also buy something specifically designed for your cat to lick, Wieber says, . You can spread your cat’s food on the mat, and, boom, your cat has something tasty to lick that isn’t you. 

“Remove your attention. Don’t reinforce the behavior with your attention but also redirect their attention,” Wieber says.

An earlier version of this story misspelled Amelia Wieber’s name. It’s been corrected.

Dont Confuse Head Pressing For Headbutting

Head pressing is when a cat presses her head against a wall or a piece of furniture relentlessly. Often accompanied by abnormal vocalization or other odd behaviors like circling and disorientation, cat head pressing is a manifestation of a neurological disorder. Specifically, head pressing and the symptoms that go along with it usually are caused by problems with the central nervous system, writes Dr. Eric Barchas. In other words, head pressing occurs when something goes wrong with the brain.

Featured photograph: ehaurylik | Thinkstock.

Grooming Is Social Behavior

Ask the shelter: why is my cat licking my head?

For cats, grooming is considered to be a social behavior. Cats spend about 50% of their time grooming. It keeps their skin healthy, and it keeps their furry coats glossy, shiny, and looking good. Grooming each other is how cats show each other affection. Families or a group of cats who are friendly and familiar with one another will often groom the head and neck areas of each other while they are relaxing together. This creates a bond between the cats so that in the future they are able to recognize and identify which cats are part of their social group and that they are friendly with.

If your cat is grooming your hair, then that means they are trying to establish a social, friendly relationship with you. They want to show you affection, and they think that theyre doing you a favor by getting rid of any possible dirt or debris in your coat. They consider you to be part of their friendly social group. And since humans really only have hair on top of their head, that is where your cat feels like needs the most grooming attention.

Is It Safe For My Cat To Lick My Hair

Although having your cat lick your head can be irritating, its not necessarily dangerous behavior for them. If your cat over-grooms you, they could ingest too much hair, but this rarely happens in practice. Its also possible that some of your hair products could be dangerous if ingested, so be very cautious of this when letting your cat groom your head.

However, if your cat is grooming you constantly, it might be a sign of stress. Cats over-groom themselves in times of stress, and they could be transferring this behavior to you. Consider seeing a vet if the behavior is becoming difficult to handle on your own.


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