Today s weird science question comes from Kendraw: My cat is obsessed with licking me. She will tolerate pets, but what she really wants to do when she needs attention is to lick me anywhere she can get skin. She won t lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow, and hand are fair game! She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. And it s not just a few licks; she gets quite thorough about it. I ve tried bitter spray. No luck. I know it s a, but is there any way I can gently get her to stop? ВHave you, like Kendraw, ever wondered Why does my cat lick me? ВFirst, I ll talk about why cats lick you, and then I ll give you some tips on how to persuade your cat that there are much more awesome options than grooming you until your skin is raw. 1. Cats lick as a means of social bonding
Kittens groom each other, and older cats who aren t related but get along well also spend time grooming one another. Often they ll get the spots that are hard for a cat to reach by themselves, such as the top of the head and inside the ears.
Exchanging scents through grooming also increases the bond between a pair of cats. (One Catster writer documented her attempt at. ) 2. When your cats lick you, they reВ paying you a huge compliment A tongue bath from your cat is an indication that she feels totally safe in your presence. You are truly a member of her family, and she reinforces that by cleaning you like her mother cleaned her when she was a kitten. 3. Your cats tongues are covered with barbs Your feels like sandpaper because it s covered with papillae backward-facing hooks made of keratin, the same material that makes your kitty s claws. The papillae help cats rasp meat off bones, and they also assist in grooming by acting like a comb to pull out loose fur and dirt. 4. Your cats might be licking you because of anxiety Some cats get so stressed that they begin licking compulsively. (One mysterious condition is called. ) Cats who lick themselves bald are often trying to comfort themselves because they re stressed.
Other compulsive kitties might lick and suck on fabric, В or even your skin. 5. To stop your cat from licking you, distract her Learn the signs that your cat is about to start licking. Before she starts washing your arm raw, redirect her attention with a toy. If your cat likes, slip a catnip-filled kicker toy in front of her when she s about to lick you. If she s not a catnip fan, try a treat-dispensing toy instead. 6. De-stress your cats with interactive play. It keeps your cat fit and trim, and it strengthens the bond between you. Not only that, but the chemicals released during exercise help your cat to relax and feel content. Feeling stressed yourself? Try these 7. Be patient when your cats lick you It s not easy to retrain a cat who has gotten used to performing a habitual behavior such as licking.
Remember to stay gentle and avoid yelling or intense physical reactions like shoving your cat, tossing her off your lap, or (heaven forbid) hitting her. Tell us: Have you been able to rehabilitate a compulsive licker? Please tell us in the comments how you did it. And, as always, if you have any other weird science questions, ask me by leaving a comment! Thumbnail: Photography ВMurika Thinkstock. Read more about cats and science on Catster. com: About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats. One of the most troubling stress factors in a feline\’s life is change.
Cats love their routines, and when something in their lives changes dramatically, they don\’t like it one bit. Whether you moved to a new home or adopted a new French bulldog puppy, you may observe your kitty reacting negatively and perhaps taking on some obsessive behavioral patterns in order to deal with her feelings of uncertainty and confusion. One 100 percent natural way to ease your cat\’s stress — and perhaps end her nonstop licking — is by offering her a temporary safe haven to deal with the transitional period in her life. Set aside a temporary sanctuary for your cutie somewhere in your home, preferably far away from chaos and any other pets. Fill the area with all of her creature comforts, including food, water, treats, a bed, scratching posts and even some fun interactive toys. Sometimes all a cat needs to get back on track is some space and peace — you probably can relate!