Social Question

Aster's avatar

How Common is it for a Cat to Lick Your Hand?

Asked by Aster (18806points) July 8th, 2010

An old friend had a cat and when we went over there (cat did not know us) the cat began licking my then-husband’s hand for about a minute. Is this real common and what does it mean? I Know for certain when my dogs do it they are showing affection.

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11 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Mine does it all the time, but I have had others who never did it.

dynamicduo's avatar

It’s pretty common in my experience. It often means one has a salty hand, or some other tasty thing on it that the cat wants to eat. My cat loves to eat earwax, as gross as that sounds! I wouldn’t necessarily attribute a cat licking a hand to be a sign of affection, cats tend to be more independent and less affectionate showing than dogs are. Then again I’ve met cats who want nothing to do with humans whatsoever as well as cats who do indeed show affection, so I’d say it varies from cat to cat.

Fly's avatar

My cat does this relatively often. In most cases it means that my hand tastes good.
But then again my cat loves licking plastic, so who knows what my hand really tastes like…
Or if I’m petting her, sometimes she will like my fingers because she wants me to clean her, which is showing affection in a way.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Mine do it all the time, my face also. I read somewhere that it has to do with salt on your skin.

GracieT's avatar

My cats usually lick our hands (or any part of my face or arms they can reach when I scratch them. They seem to need to do that, because they will lick the bed, couch, or themselves if I keep my hand where they cannot reach it.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that they are “grooming” you. Usually if I pet my cat (which seems to be common in the former posts) that is when they lick me. If you notice, they do the same thing to each other. They will take turns grooming one another. I think that’s what they are doing when they lick us. It’s their way of repaying the favor we’re doing by petting them (probably perceived as a grooming behavior).

rebbel's avatar

I am with @TheOnlyNeffie here, i too think it is grooming us.
Didn’t i also read one time that kitties ‘see’ us as big/mommy cats?

perspicacious's avatar

It’s not uncommon at all.

tinyfaery's avatar

I have 5 cats and only 1 of the 4 does it regularly. My boy cat does it every once in awhile.

NaturallyMe's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie – yep, my kitty would usually also do that to me while he’s busy grooming and i come up close and put my hand or face nearby.

Atti's avatar

My very first kitty would lick my hand when I petted her. It seemed like it was her sweet way to say thank you for the attention. I named her Sugar. I have had several other cats over the years, but only one other one did that. I think it also has to do with the temperment of the cat.

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