Why do Cats Lick Your Hands?

Cats can seem like mysterious creatures. Their behavior can often seem fickle, random and strange to their human companions. But there’s usually a logical explanation for their actions and why cats lick your hands. When your cat licks your hand they might another cat or a person, it’s usually because they want your attention and recognition. This is known as “attention-seeking behavior”.

A cat licking you is not an aggressive act but a sign that the kitty feels comfortable with you and trusts you enough to come closer. However, there are several reasons why cats lick your hands. Read until the end to find out which reasons why are fact and which are simply pussy footing around the real reasons.

What Does it Mean When a Cat Licks Your Hands?

When a cat licks you it can have several meanings. Licking is one of the ways cats communicate with each other as well as with humans. By licking you, your cat is trying to make you part of the “family”. According to studies, when a cat licks your hands they may be tasting you. It’s a way for them to get information about who you are and what your taste is like. This licking can also be a sign of affection. Cats will also lick themselves to keep clean and groom themselves, so they could be doing this as a way of putting their scent on you as a way of claiming you as their property.

Why do cats Lick Your Hands?

Some cats are drawn to the smell of their human’s hands. If you’re an animal lover and interact often with pets and other animals, you’re more likely to have a cat that licks your hands. This licking means that your cat trusts you and wants to show affection towards you.

Cats Have Rough Tongues Because of Papillae

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they are required to consume meat as a part of their natural diet. This is because they lack the necessary enzymes and proteins that are needed to digest plant-based foods. Because of their diet, cats have evolved to have a rough tongue texture so they can more easily remove meat from their bones while they are eating. This is why when cats lick your hands it can feel rough. It also helps them get more nutrients from the food they are consuming.

The rough texture also helps cats remove their fur when they groom themselves. It’s recommended for cats to groom themselves every day but they don’t need reminding. While grooming, cats ingest their own hair, which helps them keep their digestive tract clean. They also get to eliminate toxins and help prevent parasites.

Why do Cats Lick Your Hand?
Why do Cats Lick Your Hands?

Cats also have taste receptors that pick up on things like temperature and texture. Rough texture on the tongue helps cats to taste more flavor because they’re able to actually chew their food. Cats start with their whiskers and then the tongue takes over in the chewing process. This chewing ability is important because it allows cats to break down their food to get more nutrients out of it. Cats have very sensitive taste buds, so they can easily taste the salt in your skin, your breath and even detect the change of seasons in your mood when cats lick your hands.

When Cats Lick Your Hands They Are Grooming Humans

Cat licking is called cat grooming, an activity that stems from feline instinct and helps keep cats healthy by removing parasites and dirt from their fur without damaging the top layer of their skin. It’s also one of the ways cats signal trust in humans. From the day they’re born cats are groomed by their mother and remember that useful task and show of affection when they’re with their human owners.

When Cats Lick your Hands and For How Long Indicates Levels of Trust

The amount of time a cat licks you says a lot about how she feels about you. If your cat licks your face or hands for a few seconds, she may be trying to show you trust. If your cat licks you for 15 seconds, she’s saying that she trusts you completely. A cat that licks you for more than 20 seconds is showing a strong bond. This type of licking is considered a sign of affection, but it also shows respect and admiration. A cat that licks her owner for minutes at a time is showing a deep sense of trust.

Cats Use Licking to Mark Territory

Cats use licking as a way to mark the things they consider their own, like your furniture, your bed, and you! Your cat licks you and your belongings with her saliva, which contains pheromones that signal to other cats that this is her territory. She may also be marking you as part of her territory to prevent other cats from coming near you. Your cat may also mark you with her scent by rubbing her face on your clothing or scratching you.

How to Respond When Your Cat Licks You

If you like being licked by your cat don’t react in a startled way. Instead, let her know that you’re okay with her behavior. To let your cat know you don’t mind her affection, you can: Take a breath and try to relax. When you’re tense, your cat might think that you don’t like her affection, so she may keep licking. Hold still and don’t push your cat away. If you move around while your cat is licking you, she might think you want her to keep going. Speak softly to your cat.

If you’d prefer your moggy doesn’t climb on you licking your hands and face, give her back a stroke, place one hand under her chest and one on her rump, pushing down her tail and gently put her on the carpet, distracting her away from lapping at you.

Kneading Behavior

Another reason why kitties may start licking your hands is a behavior called “kneading.” Kneading is a behavior that kittens learn to do with their mom as they’re growing up, and it’s thought to be most similar to the way that a kitten would nurse from her mom. Kneading is thought to be a soothing, comforting behavior that helps little kittens feel safe and secure.

As cats mature, they still sometimes do this behavior, but the reasons why remain a mystery. Some people believe that it helps to calm a cat down, while other people think that they do it because they are stressed out. One theory is that cats do this when they don’t know what else to do with their energy and don’t have a good outlet for it. Humans often perform a similar behavior when they are nervous or have excess energy and no way to release it – we fidget with our hands or pick at our nails.

Marking Behavior Explained

Another reason why some cats lick hands is because it is another form of scent marking. Cats rub their cheeks against almost anything they can find – your leg, the furniture, your favorite couch, the wall, and even you if you let them! The rubbing is a form of scent marking that leaves behind their personal pheromones. People have been known to use this as a way to calm a cat down when they are stressed or anxious, by stroking the cat’s cheek and then rubbing the same spot on their own body. Your hand is a perfect place to do this, and your cat might just be trying to calm herself down by scenting you with her own personal aroma. The same theory can be applied to licking. Cats lick using their rough tongues, so it is likely to leave behind some of their saliva as well as their pheromones. The licking could be a way for your cat to mark you as part of her territory, or to leave behind her scent as a sign of trust and affection.

Your cat’s saliva contains a small amount of protein, so your cat may be licking your hand as a way to get that extra bit of nutrition. The licking could also be an attempt to taste your scent, because cats are by nature extremely territorial creatures.

Even if your cat is already spayed or neutered, she may still have a strong need to mark her territory as part of a natural feline instinct. Your scent can also be a sign of trust since cats naturally groom themselves as part of their daily routine. If a kitty has groomed her fur, then licked her paws, and then licked your hand, it’s likely that she feels comfortable and trusts you as part of her little family.

Is Licking and Grooming Normal For Cats?

Cats spend up to 8% of their waking time grooming (and 50% napping), so licking in general is a normal behavior for cats

Dr. Alison Gerken, Pet MD
Why do Cats Lick Your Hands?
Why do Cats Lick Your Hands?

Cats Can’t Taste Sweetness

Cats have a strong sense of smell and taste, making these their primary senses when it comes to eating and drinking. This means that cats are able to detect different flavors and aromas in their food, enabling them to choose what they eat carefully and get the nutrients they need from their diet. Cats also have a heightened sense of taste when they are very young, making it a useful tool during weaning. However, cats are considered ‘non-tasters’, meaning that they have a reduced ability to detect sweet and bitter flavors.

In Conclusion

One of the most curious things about cats is their fondness for licking their owners’ hands. While this is a behavior that can be annoying for many people, it is actually a sign of affection from your kitty. They’re just trying to groom you the way they would groom themselves or how their mothers used to groom them. Some experts also think its a form of friendly submission while in some cats its an ostensible sign of dominance over you. What’s clear is that when cats lick your hands its a sign of a close bond with you and the more seconds they perform this wet task, the closer they feel that bond truly is.

If you feel an allergy coming on it’s alright to gently nudge the cat in a different direction, away from your damp hand. Wash your hands with soap and water and avoid your eyes if that’s the case. If not, enjoy your finger massage from your furry friend.

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