If you’re a cat owner, you are most likely a victim of cat licking.
You’ve probably also wondered, “Why does my cat lick my face? Is it because it loves me, or is it just trying to get rid of that pesky tuna breath?”
Today, we look at why cats lick their owners’ faces and offer tips on keeping your kitty’s tongue away from you if it creeps you out.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Face?
What does it mean when a cat licks your face? First, they want to show you how much they love you. However, there are other reasons your kitty might tongue your face:
- Showing affection: Much like how we demonstrate our love by kissing our partner or family members, cats often lick their owners to show their affection;
- Seeking attention: When your cat feels neglected and needs some quality time with you, it may start licking your face as a form of attention-seeking behavior;
- Marking their territory: By licking your face, they leave their scent on you, thus claiming you as their own and helping them feel more secure and comfortable;
- Grooming their person: Cats, especially the queen, are very meticulous groomers and often lick their owners to make them ‘more presentable’;
- Your cat likes your taste: Believe it or not, some cats just enjoy how your skin tastes and feels, which may sound gross to us, but it’s perfectly normal for cats;
- Coping with anxiety: Just like humans, cats can suffer from anxiety and stress, and licking their owners is a way for them to self-soothe and calm down.
So, the next time your cat licks your face, don’t be alarmed since, most likely, it’s expressing its love for you in its unique caring way.
Should I Let My Cat Lick My Face?
Most cat owners, especially first-time ones, wonder whether or not they should let their cat lick their face. After all, cats spend a lot of time licking themselves.
First off, cats’ tongues are covered in tiny spines called ‘papillae’, which help them detangle their fur, remove parasites, and redistribute their skill oils.
These spines can be scratchy and may not feel unpleasant on human skin.
Additionally, cats often use their tongues to clean up after using the litter box, so it’s best to keep them from licking your face if they’ve just been dealing with their waste.
However, a more important consideration is the fact that some people exhibit allergic reactions when coming into contact with cats, especially their saliva.
Another medical concern is the small risk of contracting a disease from letting your cat lick your face, like cat scratch disease (CSD). While most healthy humans are unlikely to succumb to such illness, those with compromised immune systems are still at risk.
To keep it on the safe side, wash your face with antibacterial soap after your cat licks it. Also, if you have any cuts or open wounds, keep your cat away from them.
|Did you know: By getting one of the best self-cleaning litter boxes of 2022, you will only deal with and enjoy the fun and cuddly part of owning a cat!|
Benefits of Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face
Are there any pros to letting the cat lick your face? Actually, there are a few:
- Cat saliva has healing powers—the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of cats’ tongues help them heal flesh wounds, and on contact with skin, the saliva creates nitric oxide that ultimately inhibits bacterial growth and protects from infection;
- Cat licking is a sign of affection—When your cat licks you, it’s essentially giving you a kitty kiss, thus expressing its love and trust for you; what’s cuter than that?
Dangers of Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face
The benefits aside, here are the cons of letting your cat lick your face:
- Harmful bacteria in cat saliva—cat mouths (especially of outdoor felines) may contain various harmful bacteria, which can be curbed with regular tooth cleaning;
- Cats’ tongues may transfer allergens—people with oversensitive immune systems are often allergic to the proteins found in their cats’ saliva, urine, and dander, and the most common symptoms include sneezing, itchiness, and watery eyes.
How Do I Stop My Cat From Licking My Face?
If you find your kitten’s kisses uncomfortable and do not want (and should not) reject them outright, there are still a few methods to build a strong bond based on boundaries.
The first and most effective method is to distract your cat as it is about to start licking you— which you can do with toys, food, or even by waving your hands.
Another effective approach is to use positive reinforcement techniques, i.e., petting and rewarding them with treats when they lie close to you but not near your face—an excellent solution to let your cat know you still love it without wanting their saliva on your face.
Also, you can make your home more cat friendly, meaning setting up a lot of spots for scratching, climbing, and exploring that will occupy their attention.
If all else fails, you can always get up and leave. They might think you are ignoring them, but it might be necessary to take a break if they just won’t stop licking you.
If none of these tips work, the licking behavior might indicate an underlying medical condition, so you should contact a vet or take him to your closest veterinary service.
|This comprehensive cat guide teaches you crucial cat-caring tips and tricks.|
If you ever asked yourself, “Why does my cat lick my face?”, hopefully, this article shed some light on the matter. At the end of the day, while the behavior may seem odd to humans, it’s just one of the many ways cats convey their love. And as any cat lover knows, getting that kitty affection is definitely worth a little face-licking here and there.