Hands, face, hair, especially when I am petting him. Hiro, my cat is quite the licker. And I know Hiro isn’t the only licker among the cats. But why do they lick?
Some cats do it night, some cats do it the morning to wake you up because they are hungry. Some cats lick your hair, some lick your hands, or any bare skin that is visible.
The first thing a kitten experiences, even before he can see, is his mother licking and washing him. Grooming is a demonstration of love and caring. Like babies, kittens get a lot of information through their sense of taste. A kitten will lick to explore the world, and it means that your cat is grooming you. It’s his way of showing affection. Kittens learn to associate being licked with the safe secure feeling they have around their mother. So, if your cat occasionally washes your hair or licks your face, he accepts you and he wants to care of you as a fellow feline. Cats groom each other, and the humans who own them as a form of social interaction. And some cats just like the salty taste of human skin.
So it could be the salty taste of our skin, or the hand-lotion on your hands. Or maybe he likes the taste of your shower gel. Or they are trying to get rid of that weird taste on your skin. But most of the time it is just a sign of affection. And if you want you can respond in the same way. (beware of hairballs)
But things get annoying when your cat is keeping you awake at night by licking your hair and/or face. It can be something obsessive and your cat/kitten has to learn to stop that behavior, but where to start?
- When you remove the kitten hold it by the nape of the neck as would a mother cat with her kittens when she moves them around. The kitten’s automatic response is to go limp to allow the mother to lift and move it. This will stop his escape.
- Put a bit of bitter apple on or near your face. Cats hate the taste.
- Place a recently warmed blanket by your feet. It will be nice and warm and they will be cozy. They just might find that slightly more appealing.