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Why Does My Cat Lick My Feet? Understanding Feline Behaviour

Why Does My Cat Lick My Feet?

Understanding Feline Behaviour

If you are a cat owner or have ever been one, you probably have experienced the feeling of its fur rubbing on your face, feet, or any other part of your body.

Cat licking their owners is a common thing that many people experience. However, some people wonder if it’s fine to let this happen. 

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does my cat lick my feet?”. If so, reading this article will better understand feline behaviour and why your cat licks your feet.

Is It Normal For Cats To Lick People?

It’s said that cats spend 8% of their waking time grooming and 50% napping. Therefore licking is a normal behaviour that you would expect to see in cats.

If a cat has ever licked you, you would know that its tongue feels more like a sandpaper loofah and less like a soft sponge.

It is because a cat’s tongue is covered in many tiny backwards-facing spines named papillae. Papillae help loose fur and remove dirt from its coat. These also help cover the fur in saliva to keep your cat calm.

Why Does My Cat Lick My Feet? Understanding Feline Behavior

There is no specific reason as to why cats lick people. However, several possible theories explain this behaviour in cats.

It Is Expressing Affection

Your cat could simply show affection towards you by licking your feet. It comes from the mother grooming their kittens and cats grooming one another.

For cats, this grooming helps strengthen the social bond between each other. Therefore, your cat may be grooming you to enhance the relationship you both share.

It Is Seeking Attention

Cats also lick as a way of seeking attention. Your cat may have noticed that you seem to be giving it more attention when it shows this behaviour. 

Though you may not know, you may have inadvertently rewarded this behaviour in your cat by petting or talking to it.

Even if you try to push your cat away when it’s licking you, your cat will find his negative attention better than getting no attention at all.

It Is Displaying Kitten-Related Behavior

Cats licking could also be that they are displaying kitten-related behaviour. Kittens suckle when they nurse on their mothers. 

If your cat is weaned too early, it may lick you as a way of reminiscing about nursing time. It may also purr and knead while licking your feet.

It Is Identifying You As Part Of Its Group

One of the main ways cats communicate is by making other animals and objects with their scent. It’s also why mothers lick their kittens to create a group scent that is familiar to everyone.

In the same manner, your cat may also be licking your feet as a way of identifying you.

It Is Anxious

Licking could also be a behaviour that cats exhibit to alleviate stress. Stress leads to excessive self-grooming. However, licking may be directed toward the owner too.

Identify any triggers for your cat to exhibit this behaviour, such as having visitors in the house or loud noises.

Excessive licking could take over your cat’s life if anxiety is not treated. 

It Likes Your Taste

Your cat may be licking you simply because it likes your taste. It may lick your skin to find out interesting scents such as from shampoos, lotions, and other topical products.

Cats also find human perspiration appealing as it has salt and sugar.

It Has A Medical Issue

An underlying medical issue could also cause cats to lick whatever they find in the environment. Common symptoms include pain, nausea, and discomfort that could lead to licking.

Sometimes, medical issues like inflammatory bowel disease may also cause cats to lick people. Therefore, if your cat is licking excessively, you must take it to a vet to find out the cause.

It Is Marking Territory

Cats use their sense of smell to pass messages to other cats. When your cat licks you, it leaves saliva on you. 

Each cat’s saliva has a unique smell. Therefore, when another cat feels this smell, it knows that another cat has claimed the person.

Feet are the ideal place to lick as any cat can smell them when they pass by a person as they are right next to the cat’s nose.

Is It Safe To Let My Cat Lick Me?

Letting your cat lick you is generally safe, but there could be potential risks. Cat saliva contains bacteria that can lead to local or systemic infection if your cat happens to lick an open wound.

However, getting a disease from a cat is rare, but you should prevent your cat from licking any cuts on your skin to be safe.

Some topical solutions and ointments you apply on your skin could harm your cat. Therefore, you must inform your vet if your cat licks your face or any part of your body where you’ve applied such ointments.

How To Stop My Cat From Licking Me?

Your mind finds it irritating that your cat keeps licking you and may want to stop it. Scolding or punishing your cat will not work and shouldn’t be tried at all.

Here are a few ways to stop your cat from licking you.

  • Cover your sleeves with a cloth or towel when playing or interacting with your cat.
  • Toss a treat away from you so your cat moves towards the treat instead of towards you.
  • Walk away when your cat starts licking you, and avoid paying attention to this behaviour.
  • Provide your cat with plenty of entertainment and enrichment opportunities, like a variety of toys they can play and interact with.

Another great way to keep your cat busy so that it won’t have time to come and lick you is to allow for outdoor playtime.

You can use a GPS Tracker if you’re worried about your cat going too far from your reach. Click here for more information about this.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does It Mean If A Cat Licks Your Feet?

A cat may lick you to show affection, seek attention, or mark its territory. 

Is It Good Or Bad When A Cat Licks You?

Your cat licking you is nothing to worry about. However, if your cat is licking you out of anxiousness, you must take it to a vet.

Final Thoughts

It is completely normal behaviour for cats to lick your feet. It’s not harmful, but it’s best to prevent your cat from licking any open wounds on your skin due to the bacteria in its mouth.

There are many reasons why cats like to lick people’s feet. They do it to seek attention, express affection, mark their territory, identify the person as part of their group, and display kitten-related behaviour.

Cats may also lick you when they feel anxious or stressed and like your taste. 

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