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Why Do Cats Lick Your Face – 6 Common Reasons

Why Do Cats Lick Your Face – 6 Common Reasons

Cats surely do strange things, but what compels them to do the things they choose to do? Cat owners have all experienced their cat randomly coming to them and begin licking their face or hands at least once since owning a cat. Why do they do this, though? Why do cats lick your face?

There are many different reasons your cat may be licking your face. It could be that your cat is asking for your attention or that it likes the saltiness of your skin. 

Those are just a few reasons why your cat may be licking your face. You’re probably wondering what the others are, and you can find that out if you continue reading as well as answers to other questions you may have about this strange behavior. 

What are the reasons my cat is licking my face?

There are various reasons why your cat feels the need to lick your face. It could be your cat’s way of telling you it loves you or that your cat wants your attention. The following is a list of reasons your cat may be licking your face:

1. Acceptance

If you’ve ever seen a litter of cats born, you’ll know that when the kittens are young, the mother cat will lick the kittens often to make them feel safe and assure them that she’s still there. When your cat licks your face, it could mean that your cat has accepted you and feels safe around you. Now that you and your cat have an unbreakable bond, your cat shows you love, affection, and acceptance the way it was taught. Acceptance is a reason your cat may be licking your face.

2. Wants Your Attention

If you have been spending a lot of time away from your cat, whether you’ve just been busy with work or binge-watching a tv show, your cat may be licking you to let you know that it needs your attention. If this is the case, you may want to pet and play with your cat to stop the licking behavior. However, if your cat is excessively licking your face, it could indicate separation anxiety or stress. You may also notice your cat obsessively self-grooming; if your cat is doing this, schedule a vet appointment to determine the cause of your cat’s new obsessive behavior and anxiety. Your vet will also inform you of ways to stop the behavior and make your cat calmer.

3. Marking You

Cats can recognize people and other cats by their scent. If your cat is licking your face, it could be their way of rubbing their scent onto you so that you smell like them. Mother cats mark their kittens like this to clean them and show them affection and make their scent the same as hers so they can all identify each other and her. When a cat licks another cat, it creates an unbreakable bond between the two animals. When your cat licks you, it could also be trying to bond with you by marking you as one of its own.

4. Grooming You

When your cat licks your face, it may be their attempt at grooming you. Although cat saliva may seem like the opposite of clean to you, this is how cats clean themselves and each other and also promotes bonding. Community cats that know each other well often clean each other to become closer and place their scent on each other for East recognition. Your cat licking your face means they consider you a part of their tribe and are trying to clean you so that you have a similar scent as them.

5. Self Soothing

Your cat could be trying to use you as a human pacifier. By licking your face, your cat may find the same relaxation and calmness that human babies feel when they soothe themselves with a pacifier. Kittens typically do this when they have been taken from their mother too soon, which causes them to develop an oral fixation. If it becomes obsessive, schedule a vet appointment to correct the problem.

6. Your Cat Likes Your Taste

Although this sounds horrifying, you have nothing to worry about. Your cat is not trying to eat you. However, when humans sweat, they release salty liquids from their pores. Your cat could like the saltiness of your skin, and that’s why they are licking you. Ask your vet about your options to stop this behavior.

How to stop excessive licking?

Since cats often lick to show affection and bonding, it may be difficult to stop this behavior without damaging the relationship you have with your cat. When your cat begins licking you, try redirecting their attention by pulling them away from your face and petting them instead. Another good way to get your cat to stop licking you is to walk away from them when they begin licking, as they’ll start associating licking with your disappearance. If these methods do not work, you can always reach out to your vet and schedule an appointment to determine why they have this behavior and what can be done to fix it.

Why does my cat lick my face at night?

It is possible that the timing is simply a coincidence. However, cats lick other cats in vulnerable moments such as sleep because they want the other cat to feel safe around them. It also shows how comfortable and safe the one doing the licking feels around the other cat. So if your cat is licking your face at night, it could mean that they want you to feel safe around them and want you to know it is comfortable around you.

Should I lick my cat back?

No, please refrain from licking your cat’s back. Your tongue is textured differently than theirs, and you have a different scent than cats which will create confusion. Also, the ingestion of cat fur is not healthy for you. Cat fur can contain several harmful bacteria, including E.Coli and salmonella. Along with bacteria, there are also diseases you can contract from your cat through licking them, such as ringworm and Sporotrichosis.

Why does my cat lick my fingers?

Depending on what you’re doing at the moment, your cat licking your fingers could mean different things. For example, if you have just gotten done eating and still have grease or food on your fingers, your cat could simply be licking your fingers to taste the food. Alternatively, if you’re petting your cat and it starts to lick your fingers, it could simply be their way of thanking you.


Cats lick for a variety of reasons ranging from trying to get your attention to simply liking the salty taste of the skin. If your cat licks you too much, you can redirect this habit without damaging your relationship with your cat. For example, you can pull them away from you and pet them instead or walk away when they begin licking you, so they associate licking you with you leaving.