He did this for a while after we adopted him. If Bjorn starts licking out of the blue while he’s been napping in close proximity to me, I’m convinced this is why. So much so that I named him Licky. Cats can develop compulsive behaviors, just as we can. Cats are very strange creatures and it takes a long while for them to completely trust someone. If you have a playful cat, long fingernails are going to be fun to chase and bite. (It’s Not as Obvious as It Seems! Sometimes the licking with Bjorn got to be a little too much for me to be happy. If you can honestly say you’re giving your cat enough attention and playtime, or you’re too busy, you can say “no”. I had no idea cats could do that. I have two female cats, one is a very licky cat, but she only does it if you start to pet her. Anyways, that’s my 2 cents. I know this behavior all too well. And let’s be honest, even if they’re not difficient, we like the taste of salty things even if we have plenty of salt in our diet – there’s just something about the taste that’s ever-so-delicious! It largely revolves around the following factors: Pure instinct. Compulsive behaviors can be worsened if you allow or encourage them. By, Oct 06, 2020 / When cats are comfortable with humans, they lick human hands to indicate and reinforce their feelings. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. A Cat Blog for Cat Lovers & Kitty Keepers. That defensive vocalisation sound a cat makes when they are reacting to something they’re not happy with. Not mine, but if this is true of yours – do let me know how you discovered this and if there are particular times that your cat licks to tell you he/she wants something specific. If your cat likes to bite your fingers, it could mean they are showing you affection, a throwback to kittenhood behavior, or a sign of aggression to name just three possible reasons. Cats are also obsessed with being warm, and the human body is a great source of heat. Have you ever wondered why cats do this? She grooms it for at least 15 to 30 minutes every day – just lick, lick, lick. In terms of why cats sometimes lick their owners’ hands and fingers, I honestly think there are so many different reasons, it’s hard to come up with a short list. Why Do My Hands Smell Sniffing your hands, you immediately smell the unmistakable aroma of stinky stench that comes into your nose instantly whenever you place your hands near your face. She does not seek you out to lick you. When Tom is pressing his face into your neck, he's coating you with his own signature perfume. However, when a cat is anxious, it may compulsively lick its owner's hands in order to soothe itself. When your cat does this to you, it is like giving a hug and kiss in greeting a friend. Grooming helps cats to relax and exchange scents with each other, cementing their acceptance into the colony. The act of grooming leaves that particular cat’s scent on whatever or whomever a cat happens to be grooming – it’s part of the reason cats groom their feline family members. This is a dangerous odor because dental issues can affect so many things outside of just the teeth and gums, and it’s imperative that you get … As well as nudging us, staring and blinking, weave between our legs, and even have a nip to get their point across. The kinds of signs to look out for that your cat is reaching the point of being annoyed are: If you see any of these signs or any other signs that your cat is getting restless, stop petting them immediately. Is your cat exhibiting any of the following signs? Cats can be very finicky and, if she just washed herself, she may not want you to put your scent on her. She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. If I let him continue to lick for half an hour, he likely would. ), Why Do Cats Pant in the Car? Finally, I had a cat from birth (back in 2003) – and this kitty just loved to lick. He has literally licked the skin off of my fingers twice now. The other is to make them aware that they can’t react by biting. It depends how long the nails are, but it’s really no surprise. Every cat is different and will be affected in different ways to be stressed. Why Does My Dog Sniff Me So Much? Why Does My Cat Bite My Fingers When I Pet Him? : As you can see, lashing out and biting or nibbling could be a sign of stress. Some cats are OK with snuggling, but many do not like to confined in any way, including in your arms. Obsessed with cats. Skin Odor. What Size Carrier Do I Need for 12 Pound Cat? [My cat] won’t lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow and hand are fair game! Enter your email address and hit "Go" to be notified each time a new post is published on KittyClysm. Therefore it does seem a little strange that a cat should sniff us while we sleep. Hi, I'm Elise! Cats use smell in their social interactions, to create and identify chemical cues and to locate food, enemies, and friends. If your cat is stressed and has become less tolerant of petting or irritable this could be the reason. Cats have a good sense of smell, thanks to the more or less 45 to 200 million olfactory receptors. Such as a new arrival to the home, different food, a trip to the vets, and so on. Kneading is a feline behaviour that may be a leftover from kitten-hood, something like a human child may like to suck on a thumb as a behaviour reminiscent of his or her days as an infant. Why? Do you have any more guesses with regards to why cats sometimes lick fingers & hands? UpgradeYourCat.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. For example, lots of cats chew thin plastic shopping bags, lick those plastic bags, or even bite and chew on things made out of plastic in general. Learn more here. She is marking you with her scent but, sometimes cats smell our hands and fingers to decide whether we smell ok to touch them. Cats have thirty of these receptor proteins, dogs have nine and humans have two. Every so often, he got carried away and continued licking after I took away my hand, so I’d say, “Okay, okay, enough” gently, then pick him up and move him, or block the spot he was licking with my arm. Most people aren’t aware of this but cats are actually farsighted creatures. As does excessive grooming, chasing their own tail, and chewing on certain materials – cats love chewing plastic and wool in particular. Some sources say cats have 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavity — more than most breeds of dogs. I have seven cats. So maybe salt-loving is part of it! Hope it makes some sense, but if it is irrelevant, asinine, and a ridiculously absurd notion, then I’m right on track. Why does my cat sniff my face? Have two pet cats, Avery & Bjorn, whom I love to bits. I’m pretty sure he just wants reassurance that I love him and he’s “special.” I do pet him when he starts licking, but I also cover up most available skin. You can never rule out a cat being led by their sense of taste. Just put them down and walk away. According to Dr. The nose touch is an even social exchange that puts both cats in an equally vulnerable position. I managed to stop one of my cats doing this by saying “Ouch” and moving my hand away. Is this something you find yourself asking? My own article on cats tells how the purr is actually a healing mechanism. There are two sides to changing or avoiding a nibble from over-stimulation. Voted up-across and shared. Congrats on Hub of the day! Can a Maine Coon Be Orange? Some cats are OK with snuggling, but many do not like to confined in any way, including in your arms. It might be a compulsive behavior (explained in more detail below), or something that feels nice or fun for them. As kitten rescuer Hannah Shaw writes on Instagram, it’s “a cat’s way of analyzing an unfamiliar and interesting scent. You don’t have to give in to their demands as and when they want to play. Fond of my fluffies? Sniffing and smelling is a form of communication that cats … Oh maybe it could be! Two cats living in the same house may smell each other when one comes in from the outside or comes back from the vet to confirm information about the cat's state including diet, stress, availability for mating, and mood." If your finger happens to be the most accessible thing at that time, that’s what they’ll use. Congrats on Hub of the day! Why does a cat smell something and then keep its mouth open for what seems like an abnormally long amount of time? Grooming helps cats to relax and exchange scents with each other, cementing their acceptance into the colony. It’s a frustrating cat behavior because no one wants their fingers bitten, gnawed, or licked. Sniffing … This is an honest mistake. Some cats may bite after licking us as a warning sign so that we stop petting them, others may do it as a sign of affection and a third group could do it as another sequence that leads to grooming, i.e they think that biting is part of the process of grooming. Behaviorists suggest that because the butt sniffing routine is a normal part of cat behavior, it’s best not to interrupt it if the cats seem friendly. When cats are comfortable with humans, they lick human hands to indicate and reinforce their feelings. If your feline friend loves to lick you, it probably means it would like some affection in return. Give your hands a good scrub before petting kitty and see if this makes a difference. If they smell another animal on our hands, they may chose not to let us touch them at all. Bjorn I do find prefers licking while some positive bonding time and socialization is taking place between the two of us, so with him I know it’s not just a matter of my hands smelling of food! Would be interesting to find out. I loved your article, and the happy-ending stories. He is 9 now and doesn’t ask for me to groom him anymore although he will still lick occasionally, just not incessantly. Well, it is your cat, but if your cat smells like that dead skunk on the side of the road you can’t get past at least once in your life, it could mean that your cat was outside and actually tussled with a skunk. I don’t know if you want to take this as a compliment or not, but there’s a good chance they just can’t resist the taste. “One way to see if the cat is amicable to being pet after just meeting them is to let the cat sniff your hand and then watch how they behave,” Vitale says. I’d take them in for a general check-up if you have any concerns. This is the only time you’ll ever catch Avery licking fingers and/or hands, and typically, it has to be something really compelling, as he won’t lick when the smell on my fingers is faint or is of something he’ll eat, but not obsessively. See more of this duo on my personal blog, E&T. Cats are just curious creatures. Why can’t a cat recognise us while we sleep if they want to make sure that we are there? It’s just a little more painful than those other signs of affection. The skin is another relatively common source of bad odors in … Others, however, say dogs win in this … Cats prefer resting in warm places. Your cat may be sniffing your face to greet you just as they would sniff the faces of their fellow cats. I have a cat that used to do this (not as much anymore), he wanted me to clean him with what he licked. Guess they all have their quirks. Older cats may be particularly prone to this action. You may not recognize these subtle ways that your cat is showing affection. This was a question I was sent some time ago but never got around to answering. By, Sep 19, 2020 / I’d recommend having a “trigger word” like I’ve used “Thank you” to tell your cat what he or she’s doing isn’t naughty, but you’re ready for him or her to stop. Some cats will bite or nibble as a show of affection. Some cats really love the texture of specific objects. Welcome to KittyClysm - a blog for cat lovers & kitty keepers. - Answered by a verified Cat Vet. My newly adopted furbaby, Bjorn – a stray cat who just wouldn’t leave our property – is obsessed with licking. What Can I Do? In the same way that you show affection to your cat by petting it, your cat may attempt to return the favor by licking you. If your cat’s breath is particularly bad, it could indicate that your cat is suffering from some sort of dental issue that could affect its overall health. Voted up-across and shared. Cats (and dogs) operate of their sense of smell. Just a thought. I imagined this was kind of like what his mom would do. Check out all the other blogs I pen & photograph. I can smell the difference on my hand even after thorough washing, and she licks, gently bites, grabs with her paws, rubs my hand across her mouth/face, etc. Just be mindful of what you’re doing when it happens, where you’re petting them, how long for, and so on. My male cat does this often when I’m petting him in pretty sure it’s their way of showing affection to their owners in my opinion he’s spoiled as has my only cat but I love him! Well, experts believe cats lick and groom their feline and human housemates as a way of showing trust and care. If you have a kitten and they’re teething, they’ll feel the need to gnaw on something. It’s worth exploring this as an option if you can rule out the other reasons I’ve listed. Not only does it appear blurry and large, but the scent is not familiar. When cats allogroom, it’s typically the dominant cat who begins licking & grooming a second, less dominant cat. There are toys specifically designed to be used by cats needing to chew on something. She may also nip you instead of licking, what interesting is she will put what ever she plans to lick or bite between her two front paws to hold you still so you can’t take it away. I’d love to hear about it. As in, if he licked my fingers, he wanted me to rub his head or ears then give him the fingers back so he could lick some more. It will then approach, and possibly bite you. This is their social way to share scents from all their adventures and this action places both cats on equal footing and a vulnerable position. This is almost certainly going to be the case if you have a kitten or a playful younger cat. Don’t let your cat chew on your hands and fingers. Your cat thought that your hand was food. Remember, cats have a very powerful and sensitive sense of smell, so don’t use strong-smelling soap. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. Lyndsay Gamber from California on September 19, 2013: This is a really great Hub! My own cat, Tara, headbutts me constantly when she’s sitting on top of me, and half the time she knocks my glasses off my face when she does it. Whether cats are meeting for the first time or longtime housemates are catching up after three-hour catnaps, they usually greet each other by touching and sniffing each others' noses. Immediately after doing it, remove your hand, and your cat should also over time develop an intuitive understanding that it’s time to stop. They Are Being Over-Stimulated (Too Much Petting), They Need Something to Gnaw on (Teething?). You can group this with purring, rolling around in joy, and slow blinking. When they are loved and well cared for, they definitely show it in one way or another! Cats, though, have decent eyesight. Dig KittyClysm? The act of licking, like the act of kneading, is likely to be self-soothing and stress reducing, just like sucking on a thumb is for kids who still do it well past the age where it’s technically needed or useful. It helps if you stimulate them more other areas, such as more playtime or toys and furniture to explore. Required fields are marked *. $\begingroup$ Searching for an answer, because our cat does the same thing, she goes crazy for my hands if I've gotten plain Clorox bleach (sodium hypochlorite) on them. However, when a cat is anxious, it may compulsively lick its owner's hands in order to soothe itself. The good news is that you don't have to sniff your cat's … If your hand is in a resting position after handling food, the cat will smell this and explore. Cat Barbering: Why Cats Excessively Lick & Over-Groom ‘Til They Bald, “My Cat Won’t Let Me Cut Her Nails!” Why Cats Hate Claw Trims & How To Do It, 17 Techniques You Can Try to Encourage Your Cat to Play with You. I know this is likely so obviously you’d either think of it first, or wouldn’t think of it at all. It helps them build trust and familiarity, so let your cat sniff away! Nibbling, chewing, licking, and biting your hand or fingers are all one and the same thing for the most part. Human noses can't smell it, but if another kitty comes nearby, he'll smell Tom's unique essence on you. However, a main reason a cat smells our face or sniffs our nose is simply to greet us. By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them. Think about the “sniffing” sound (if loud) can be very similar to a cat “hissing”. (I have 2-Ziggy/9 & Aiko/4) about to adopt a new baby 6 months. Cats.org list some of the signs that a cat is stressed. I know how enjoyable it is petting and fussing a cat, but we have to remember that they might not want to be petted. Here are some of the most common reasons why cats react in this way: Sometimes, cats will do something they know will get your attention because they want to play. Interrupting this behavior is equivalent to you stopping a friend from shaking hands with someone they are meeting: it can annoy or upset the friend and can make the introduction awkward. Struggling to keep up with an energetic kitten? They may enjoy the salty taste, but also may have a salt deficiency or are dehydrated and inherently crave salt, just as, for example, military soldiers are given salt tablets for hydration purposes. You'll get notified each time there's a new post on the blog. Nowadays, I tell him, “Thank you!” and move my hand out of the way once I’m done, and he stops trying to lick. There are many reasons why a dog will sniff their owner, or indeed any other human. The hits in my household are ridiculously affordable: cat springs, ball track toys, & kick sticks. About me, UpgradeYourCat, and the mission to serve cat owners around the world, Wide-open eyes staring at your or your hand that’s petting them, Eating and drinking more or less than usual. You might be able to find a connection between something you handle and your cat taking a nip. I feel this is absolutely true of Bjorn. This is because cat tongues have backward-facing hooks that are meant to pull and clean their fur the way a comb would. Why does my cat nibble my fingers when I’m trying to pet her? If a cat walks off after sniffing you, it … Feel free to drop your story below and share your experiences with others. So the fact that your cat is grooming you may be in part because he or she is showing dominance over you. That defensive vocalisation sound a cat makes when they are reacting to something they’re not happy with. What Can I Do? 15 Cute Catnip Toys I’d Love Even More Than My Cat Would. He loves to nibble and gnaw on things so much we invested in a slew of cat chew toys to try out so he’d stay away from our poor fingers as well as dangerous things like wires, and keep his gnaw game for the fang-approved objects in the household. He will also try to lick my face. So, it’s probably the most welcome reason why your cat took a nibble – but you may want to stop them. Maybe that’s the reason why your cat gets so creeped-out! A lot of cats form compulsive behaviors when they are bored, so keep that in mind. My Cat Wants Way Too Much Attention! As soon as he starts, I will typically take the hint and start petting him, to which he either starts licking more or stops, happily accepting the cuddles. Actually, he’s also a big biter. Did anything on this list strike you as a potential secondary explanation you hadn’t thought of before or is it more likely your first guess was still the most solid reason? A thorough cat licking isn't always the most comfortable experience. I've heard it's do with checking your overall health. By finding out why they feel the need to nibble on your fingers, you can do something to stop and change their behavior. One of the most frustrating problems I’ve had to deal with as a pet parent is staying on top of my cats’ desire to play. I’ve seen this topic come up in discussions loads of times, it’s a pretty common cat behavior. When they sniff you, it means they are very much interested in your scent, and like what they are smelling. I have no idea if this is a common thread at all with cats who like to lick, however. Wave them in front of a kitty with caution! Your cat's action is a backhanded compliment and kitty-correct. Cats need to gnaw on things, just like dogs do. Writing for PetPlace, Dr. Debra Primovic notes, "Some believe the 'sniff' can actually relieve tension and stress by helping an individual feel more comfortable about the other cat. If your cat is biting your fingers when you pet them, it’s likely down to one or more of the reasons I’ve listed in this article. – Standards & Colors, Do Cats Have Ankles? Back when we first met, he definitely would continue licking even after I took away my hand, finding some other body part or a piece of my clothing to continue on, but he’s developed an understanding of my behaviour over time. No one wants a stressed kitty, but it can easily happen. They vocalize their feelings with meows, purrs, and trills. Does Your Cat Nibble Your Fingers? If you’ve got a cat who likes licking, do let me know if you’ve ever tried out these chew sticks as well and if your cat’s also been obsessed with them like Bjorn has proven himself to be. Either way, if this is the cause it’s pretty simple to stop. Check out how to calm down a kitten when they’re hyper. His major thing is the kneading or “making bread”, goes on and on. While a lot of these he completely ignored (though other cats in our household who we adopted later actually adored them), I’d be lying if I didn’t mention our lick-loving kitty didn’t also love one particular type of chew toy: Matatabi Silver Vine Chew Sticks. Picture this: Your cat is sitting peacefully, minding his own business, when suddenly the family dog comes bounding up to him and goes in for a playful sniff. Your email address will not be published. It gives them information about their world. Diabetes mellitus may produce a sweet or “fruity” smell or, when a cat’s condition has worsened, an odor similar to nail polish. Here’s one you can pick up on Amazon very similar to what I used a few years ago that became a chewing companion for one of my kitties. Kittens are blind at birth but their noses still carry fully developed touch receptors! My cats are in their senior years now and no longer do this, but they both did when they were kittens. At night, the young male (he’s about four), gets locked in the bedroom with me because he occasionally attacks the other kitties and we don’t want that. If they do bite your hand or fingers, a firm “No” and placing them on the floor or away from you will get the message across. Fosters and Smith, the temperature receptors of cats, especially their faces, are especially sensitive, so cats love seeking out heat. Bjorn doesn’t just lick human hands and fingers. This might just be your natural scent, or maybe you always prepare food before sitting with your cat? He absolutely continues to lick my hand sometimes, simultaneously while I’m petting him, and in these instances I wholeheartedly believe it’s a part of how he socializes with me and shows me affection. You may have to go so far as to bring in something else for your cat to lick, but if your cat is like mine, you likely won’t need to – they’ll probably get the picture. 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