Why do Cat’s Lick?

by Alan
(Bexhill, East Sussex)

My cat spends ages licking my fingers and hands. Why? My cat -a Long Hair Domestic - is about 15 years of age and I have had her for approximately 1 month now and she has been licking me right from the start. Prior to me owning her she lived out of a shed at my place of work, a boarding kennels and cattery.

I decided that she ought to have a more comfortable life and took her home where she has settled down remarkably quickly.

Veterinarian Suggestions for Causes of Cat Licking

Hello Alan,

What a lucky cat! I’m glad she’s settling in to her new home. The licking that you describe could have several underlying causes. Cats are social creatures and will sometimes groom each other, so it may simply be that she is treating you as she would another cat that she is attached to in her “pack.”

Licking can also be an attention-seeking behavior. She may have figured out that you can’t ignore her when she licks you, and you may be inadvertently reinforcing the behavior by giving her the attention she is seeking (even if it is “negative” behavior like pushing her away).

A recent study linked excessive licking behavior with gastrointestinal abnormalities in dogs. I’m not aware of any similar studies in cat, but this is another possibility. If you notice any other problems with her health, particularly vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, or weight loss/failure to gain, I’d certainly talk to your veterinarian. But, if she seems healthy, her licking is most likely nothing to worry about.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Jul 05, 2013
'licky kitties'
by: Anonymous

My kitty is 5now & hes licked me since he was a kitten. I jokingly call him a licky kitty,cuz he will go on for quite a while 'grooming' me. He licks my hands too,as well as my feet&legs&arms&elbows,whatever is in his reach,lol. I consider it a sign of affection,because he usually follows with a sweet little mew&then lays down to rest. I guess licking is how they show their love for their human Moms! ♥♡^_^

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