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jeanm's avatar

Why do cats lick bare skin on humans?

Asked by jeanm (279 points ) April 9th, 2007
Our cat likes to lick our bare skin. I wonder why: salt deficiency, affection, genetic grooming behavior? What's up with cats licking us humans?
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15 Answers

sjg102379's avatar
The first thing a kitten experiences, even before it can see, is its mother licking and washing. Grooming is a demonstration of love and caring. So, if your cat occasionally washes your hair or licks your face, he is showing you his acceptance and caring of you as a fellow feline.
susanc's avatar
Nope, that's wrong. The reason your cat licks you is that he or she finds
susanc's avatar
your scent disturbing. Your cat is trying to wash it away so the two of you can live together in harmony. What you need to do is stop taking showers with scented soap, using makeup, and so on. As soon as your cat can be convinced that you are a fellow animal, he or she will relax.
natewlsn's avatar

Usually it is because your skin has a salty taste to it, and they like the taste. Hey they eat garbage, what can you expect!

pip17's avatar

i don’t know for sure, i was actually looking for an answer but i find it hard to believe it is b/c they don’t like your scent. my cat purrs like crazy when he licks my neck and ears. if it is to get rid of something, i would assume that he wouldn’t be purring.

dogboi's avatar

I’ve been researching this all day, so I finally know the answer. There are in fact, several reasons. The first is that like human babies, kittens get a lot of information through their sense of taste. A kitten will lick to explore the world. Secondly, the cat is grooming you. This is a way for a cat to demonstrate affection. Cats groom each other, and the humans who own them (or whom they own, lol) as a form of social interaction. Finally, cats do, in a very friendly manner, like the salty taste of human skin.

dottieleeprich's avatar

I just figure they are lacking something in their diet. But i have 2 kittens and they both eat the same food and one licks and the other doesn’t!! So sorta blows that theory in a way since they are getting the same diet.

JellyB's avatar

I think it’s a grooming thing. They do it to each other, as a show of affection or whatever, and they want to do the same for you.

angelic_fire_hazzard55555's avatar

i think its a display of affection because most cats dont lick humans

Pandora's avatar

@dottieleeprich Not necessarily. It may be that one cat likes the taste of salt and one doesn’t. My sister had a dog who loved to drink ginger ale and my dog won’t drink anything other than water.He won’t even try to taste anything else that doesn’t smell like water. If I give him tap water, he won’t touch it unless absolutely thirsty but only a lick or two. It has to be spring water that doesn’t smell like clorine.

vickister's avatar

Our cat we have had since he was ababy and he loves yto lick our faces and is more dog like than any cat i ever have seen. i think it it is affection and their way of being affectionate and thinks we are their parents. either way i wish it wasnt so rough!

amysue1578's avatar

my cat licks ALL the time!! when i pet her she wants to lick any part of my skin she can get to. when i sleep she wakes me up licking my hands. when i hold her she licks. but i love it. she loves me. still i think its part salt deficiency part grooming, part love.

michellemacari's avatar

I Have three cats. One kneads my head (hair) and purrs. The other 2 lick my hands or arms. I am with grooming and affection. They lick most when I am loving them. Scratching their belly or behind their ears and such.
If they thought we stunk, they would just go lay somewhere else. Cats do not care about hurting our feelings. LOL

catfancy's avatar

They do it because they are just as neurotic as the people who think they have the answer to this question.

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