Does Your Cat Groom You?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Cats are hardwired to keep themselves clean – that’s why constantly grooming. But does your cat take an interest in your personal hygiene?

Does your cat have a habit of grooming you like he would another feline? If you’re wondering why he does it, you aren’t alone. Check out the information we’ve gathered below to answer this common question.

A Simple Sign of Affection

Experts believe that kitties will groom their human companions to show them that they care, much like a mother cat will groom her kittens, or adult cats will groom one another to take care of each other.

Related: How Do Cats Show Affection?

When your pet grooms you, he is telling you that he loves you and that you are family. He’s basically conveying the same message that you send across when you pet him. After all, cats lick one another to soothe and comfort each other, and the feeling is similar to being petted by a human. So when your cat grooms you, he is, in a sense, petting you in return.

Claiming You as Territory

Whenever your cat grooms you, his scent is left behind. By applying his scent on you, your kitty is basically claiming you as his property, further proving that he values you. But in addition to claiming ownership, cats who groom one another also end up bonding socially, so your pet is reinforcing his bond to you as well.

Other Possible Reasons

In addition to showing affection, there are a few other theories surrounding this behavior.

Related: Are You Petting Your Cat Wrong?

For example, if you notice that your kitty is licking you excessively or even suckling on your skin or clothing, it could be the result of him being orphaned as a kitten or being weaned too soon. Some feline behavior experts think that adult cats who suckle might be exhibiting kitten-like behavior because they were separated from their mothers too early.

Another reason why your cat might suckle, nibble, or lick you is because he is anxious or stressed. He might be attempting to find comfort, so it’s important to figure out what is causing your pet to feel uneasy. By pinpointing the cause, you can work on eliminating the stress response.

This behavior may also be a sign that your pet isn’t feeling well. If you think that your kitty might be grooming you in an effort to soothe himself, a trip to the veterinarian may be necessary to rule out health problems.

Is All the Grooming a Bit Much?

If you would prefer that your kitty not groom you, you can gently discourage this behavior. You should never punish your cat for doing something that comes naturally and is a positive sign of affection towards you. Instead, you can distract your pet with a fun toy or a treat, or you could provide your pet with more mental stimulation and physical exercise. Another option would be to slowly move away from your cat once he starts grooming you so that he realizes that you’ll create distance whenever he licks you. Just keep in mind that it could take weeks or even months to change a kitty’s behavior, so be patient.

Overall, if your cat grooms you, it might just be an act of love, but if the licking behavior becomes compulsive or it comes out of the blue, your veterinarian could help you pinpoint the cause and help your kitty feel better.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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