Why do cats lick our face?

GCCF Merseyside Cat Show
GCCF Merseyside Cat Show / Shirlaine Forrest/GettyImages

If you are a cat owner, you may have noticed some interesting behavior that has you wondering why your feline is doing whatever it is that they are doing. And one of those unique cat behaviors is licking your face.

Cats can be standoffish, suspicious, and even a bit territorial. But at the same time, they can also be very loving, protective, and even quite affectionate. And in a lot of ways, licking our face can be seen as a sign of affection.

So what are some of the reasons why cats will lick your face? What does it do for them?

There are a number of reasons why a cat will lick your face

The reason we love the most for why a cat might be licking you in general is because it is a sign of affection from them (which we already mentioned). It's their way of showing us love, much like with a kitten and their mom.

According to The Wildest, it is also how cats will scent mark you and form a bond. "When cats live in a social group, often, at least one of the cats will groom the others. It’s not necessarily about cleaning them. It’s an instinctual need to build a group scent. This cat, known as the allogroomer, licks each cat in the group, creating a unique scent they all share." And this makes perfect sense, as your cat wants to show off that you are part of their social group.

Another reason our cats will lick our face is because they want attention. When a cat gets bored, they will do things to keep themselves entertained. And sometimes, that means getting their human's attention. What better way to get that attention than with some licking? Think about waking up in the morning and your cat is waiting for you to start the day. Your cat might lick at your face because this is when you should be giving them the attention they need to start their own day, including getting fed.

Cats will also lick our face if they are stressed or feeling anxious. By licking you, a member of their social group, it acts as a type of self-soothing. It can also remind a cat of when they were kittens. When they were babies, their mother would groom them and it would be soothing. By doing that same behavior, it can act to calm them down.

As cat parents, we should also be on the lookout for odd behavior and things that our cat would not normally do. If you think something is wrong with your cat, maybe reach out to your veterinarian and find out what could be wrong with your furry feline. After all, licking can also be a sign of a problem as well.

No matter why your cat is licking you, it can be a bit disconcerting to get that rough touch to the face. But at the end of the day, if it doesn't bother you and it makes your cat happy, we are all for it.

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