Ever wonder why your cat is licking your nose whenever you cuddle her? Cats express their feelings using different, rather subtle methods. Head butts are a form of greeting and rubbing against each other’s heads transfers their scent to the other, thus bonding the two. Nose licks are like a person’s kiss on the forehead or cheek, a display of affection.
Why does my cat lick my nose?
Many cat lovers assume that the licking behavior of their cats exhibits affection, which is really not that far off. Cats have complex emotions and they are generally less affectionate to their human owners than dogs are. Below are other possible reasons, apart from simple affection, why she likes licking your face and nose in particular.
1. Social Bonding
Licking is a form of social bonding for cats, it is the same as mother and kittens grooming each other. Also, older cats who are not related but get along well spend time grooming one another. Exchanging scents through grooming increases the bond between cats as well as with their human companions.
2. Paying a huge compliment
By licking your nose, your cat is indicating that she feels safe and secure with you and that you are a part of her family. Just like how her mother groomed her while she was a kitten. Cats only lick the faces of one another when they share a close connection. You should be happy because these little kisses on your nose are a way for the cat to show that she cares for you and trusts you.
3. She finds your sweat tasty
A human nose can be sweaty and sweat tastes naturally salty. If she has not shown much interest in licking you before but is doing so now, it could be because your skin has an appealing smell or taste. Sometimes it is not just the sweat that they lick, instead, you might have recently cooked a delicious meal or you used a certain product that interests her. She may simply be exploring the different scents and having a taste of it.
4. To mark her territory
Cats tend to mark their territory by licking things or rubbing their heads to transfer their scent. Licking may also mean letting you know that you are within her territory, it may sound bossy but that is how cats work. So, if ever you brought a new pet into the household and the cat starts licking you, it may indicate that she feels jealous or worried and feels that marking you as her territory will help keep others away.
5. To stroke back
When you cuddle and stroke them, a cat will feel safe and loved and as a way of thanking or returning the favor, they will lick your face or nose. It may hurt a bit because they have a rough tongue, but the roughness is good for their fur so they assume that it would also be nice for humans.
6. Wanting attention
If you are not paying attention to her, like when you are distracted by watching TV, playing with your mobile phone, or have been sleeping all day, she may likely lick your face to get your attention.
7. She may have been hurt or stressed
When cats tend to lick uncontrollably themselves, objects or you, they may be under stress or hurt and licking is their way of coping mechanism. They have a higher probability of giving your nose the most priority so they get your full attention.
Why does it hurts when they lick
Cats have rough tongues made by special back-facing barbs called papillae. These barbs are made from the same material as your cat’s claws, which explains why their tongue feels like sandpaper. The purpose for this is for grooming themselves as it helps remove the dirt or any foreign object on their fur and a cat would not be able to keep herself as clean without it.
The barbs on her tongue are not only for grooming purposes, they also help her drink water as well as remove meat from the bones of their food.
The roughness of their tongue is due to the papillae and this is why it can hurt when your cat licks you. A simple lick from her can be a cute gesture but it will start to hurt if she licks again and again as they have a tendency to excessively lick on the same spot repeatedly.
How to stop your cat from licking you
It is really heartwarming whenever a beloved cat licks your face or makes any physical contact with you, but some people might find it unpleasant. You do not want to outright reject her when she wants to lick your nose or face.
The best technique is to distract your cat by simply playing with her and showing that you want to interact but in a different way. Many cats tend to respond to your playful mood and will probably likely respond if you encourage them to play with their favorite toy or catnip.