While our feline friends are not as famous for their wet kisses as their doggy counterparts, their loving licks are just as special.
Licking is one of a cat's greatest displays of affection.
It begins when the cat is tiny, before they can even open their eyes. A mama cat uses her tongue to clean them and help them go potty. As a kitten grows up, they share licks between their mama and littermates.
If you have multiple cats, you may catch them grooming one another. It's a sign that they're getting along. Licking relieves stress and releases oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone" in both giver and receiver.
So, when your cat licks you, it's just cat talk for "I love you!" If you don't mind your cat's licking, it's perfectly fine to allow this behavior to continue.
Does your cat shower you with loving licks? then suddenly turn around and bite you?
If you're on the receiving end of some light nibbles, your cat might just be using their teeth as a part of their deep grooming process. Gentle bites can also be a sign of affection.
But if your cat is biting you deeply after licking you, it's more likely to be a sign of stress.
The licking, in the first place, might have been attributed to anxiety, not affection. Your nervous cat may bite you if they become startled, for example, if you suddenly start petting them in a spot that they do not like.
Cats, particularly kittens, may also do the whole lick-then-bite routine when they're feeling overstimulated or playful. In this case, you'll want to redirect that bouncy energy with an appropriate toy.
A cat's tongue is covered in tiny barbs, which lions and tigers use to help tear flesh from the bones of their prey. So, it's not surprising that you might find your cat's licking painful to your bare skin.
If you disengage and move away from your cat every time they start licking, they'll soon catch on. Make sure to praise your cat when they show appropriate forms of affection, like curling up in your lap or rubbing their face against you. For particularly adamant lickers, you may have to redirect with a toy or blanket.
If your cat still can't get enough of your flavor, you may need to resort to making yourself less yummy. Try rubbing some apple cider vinegar or bitter apple spray on your skin - harmless to cats, but sour enough to help break the habit.