There is nothing quite like receiving an unexpected lick on the neck from your cat. It can be pretty off-putting with their sandpaper feeling tongues when they continue to lick you in odd places. If your cat is fond of doing this, it can quickly become a source of annoyance for you. So to answer your question, why does my cat lick my neck?
Cats lick your neck because it is an instinctual habit for them from their days as a kitten. Newborn kittens often will lick their mother’s neck to let her know they are ready to nurse and want more milk. It shows affection and is also a grooming trait.
Neck licking is relatively normal behavior and just a cat’s way of communicating with you. We’ll dive into some of the meanings below so you can know what to expect!
Five Reasons Cats Lick Your Neck
We’ll dive into some of the meanings below so you can know what to expect when your cat licks your neck!
Your Cat Is Trying To Show You Affection
Getting a lick of any kind from your cat is a significant sign of affection from your sweet kitty! Cats can be very particular about which people they bond with, and if your cat is licking you, it’s a great sign that you are one of their chosen people.
Your Cat Is Licking Salt Off Of Your Neck
Your cat might be licking your neck if they can smell or taste salt in that spot. When humans sweat, it leaves behind a salty layer of residue that will remain on the skin until you shower and wash yourself off.
Sweat is made up of elements like sodium, chloride, and potassium, and when it evaporates off of your skin, it leaves behind a layer of those elements. Both cats and dogs can taste the salt and are often fond of how it tastes on humans.
To your cat, your skin may have a delicious scent or flavor that makes them think you are a big walking cat treat! If you use many skincare products, you may want to prevent your cat from licking your neck area, as they could ingest a dangerous chemical.
Your Cat Is Trying To Groom You
Grooming is one of the most significant physical ways cats show affection and bond with others. Cats are huge groomers, and they do this as a social activity to other people they like. If your cat is licking your neck, they may be trying to groom you and show you their love.
Your Cat Is Acting Like A Kitten Trying To Nurse From Their Mother
Licking their mother’s neck is a tactic newborn kittens use to stimulate the mother’s milk to come in and let their mother know they are ready to eat.
When kittens are first born, their diet is entirely composed of milk from their mothers. Most of the time, cats are born into a litter with several other brothers and sisters, and they all develop their way of communicating with their mother to ensure they are getting the milk and nutrition they need in their first days of life.
If you have recently adopted a young kitten, they may still be learning their way in the world and using this same body language to let you know they want to be feed. As a cat gets older, they will typically do this less often, but it still is an instinctual action they may do when they feel comfortable around someone.
Your Cat Thinks Your Neck Is Dirty
Cats are great at picking up on smells or flavors, and if you have any food or an interesting smelling product on your neck, your cat is going to notice that. If your cat smells a strong scent on your neck, they may come over and lick you to see what is on you. Your cat thinks they are helping you clean yourself off!
Why Does My Cat Lick My Neck So Much
Cats that frequently lick your neck also may do this because they find your neck to be a comforting spot. Cats will nuzzle into your neck and find it to be a safe and secure spot to rest. Often the neck is a warm spot as well, so they may lick your neck and hang out near it because they find it comfortable.
You can tell if your cat finds something agreeable because they typically will meow, purr, or act extra excited while doing something they enjoy.
Why Does My Cat Lick And Bite My Neck
When your cat licks you and then quickly bites your neck, they try to give you a love bite. This behavior stems from when they were being cared for by their mother.
When cats are little, their mothers groom them, which often involves licking and gently nipping at their fur. These love bites are learned behavior from their mother, and it is meant to be a sign of affection.
You can tell when your cat is giving these love bites because they will be in a playful and relaxed mood. If your cat is irritated and exhibiting signs of anger such as hissing or growling, you should be careful to keep a distance and avoid letting them lick you.
Your cat should never break the skin of your neck with their bites, and if they do, severe disciplinary action should be taken. It is a severe behavioral concern if your cat is biting anyone when unprovoked.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Neck At Night
Your cat may frequently wake you up at night by licking your neck to show you they guard you. Waking you up to lick your neck is a way for cats to express their affection for their owner and show you that they are watching and protecting you while asleep.
While this behavior is highly frustrating while trying to sleep, this is relatively normal behavior for cats. They may not specifically mean to lick your neck, but they lick their owners at night either as a sign of loyal affection or as a way to get you to wake up.
It can be pretty jarring to be woken up in this manner, so you may want to work on teaching your cat not to do this when you are asleep. Either train your cat to sleep at the foot of your bed where they are far away from your body and won’t be tempted to lick your neck, or you may have to resort to moving them even further out of the room while you sleep.
While most cats want free rein at night to explore, consider closing the door to the room you sleep in to prevent your cat from coming in and waking you up by licking you. Even though they have sweet intentions with their licking, it’s not worth losing a good night of sleep!
Things To Consider
While cats cannot hug as humans do, they often use licking and love bites to show someone how much they care.
When your cat gets close to your neck, they are trying to use their love language to show you that they want to be close to you and love you. When an animal gets close to you or cuddles up on you, it is a huge sign of trust.
Over time, you will learn to pick up on your cat’s ways of showing affection. You can usually tell which people they feel the most connected to based on who they sit next to in a room or who they want to sleep on at night.
You can show love back to your cat by giving them many belly rubs, petting them, and scratching their fur. These are some of the ways that cats enjoy receiving love back from humans. It’s always a good sign that they are enjoying the attention when you hear loud purring!