Cats usually don’t express much of their emotions, but when they do, they do it in unique ways. We know that cats don’t lick to express like pups, but if you notice that your cat is constantly licking your hand, then there may be multiple reasons behind this action. So let’s look into exactly why your cat licks your hand.
We will go over the various reasons that could lead to your cat licking your hand, as well as how to appropriately handle the situation without damaging your relationship with your feline friend.
Let’s dive in!
Why does my cat lick my hand?
Although it may not show it enough, your cat does love you. In fact, you are probably its best friend at home! But just like many of us humans, it just has a different way of showing it, and us humans mostly do not understand it.
While there are many reasons why a cat licks a human earlobe or hand, one of the main ones goes back to your cats’ childhood.
Back in the litter, the mother cat licks all its young kittens with its tongue and grooms them to sleep. This habit makes the kittens feel safe and protected in their mother’s company.
When cats are adopted into new homes, they take as many childhood memories with them as their small brains can hold. One of these fond memories is their mothers’ licking.
So to answer the question of why does your cat lick your hand in a nutshell, licking the hand, ears or even your face is a fond childhood memory of your cat.
However, even though this habit is derived from childhood, and may symbolize safety and love, it is not limited to these emotions.
There could be other reasons why your cat may lick your hand, let’s take a look at what they may be.
Possible reasons for your cat licking your hand
Here are 6 reasons why your cat could be licking your hand. It is up to you to figure out why your cat is behaving this way based on the guide we have mentioned below.
But if you suspect that your cat is licking your hand aside from the reasons we mentioned, you should get it checked by the vet.
It is expressing its love for you
As discussed above, cats are groomed and licked by their mother back in the litter before getting adopted into new homes.
Because this action makes your cat feel loved and cared for, they assume that licking their owner’s hand will make them feel the same way.
Your cat licking your hand out of love could strengthen both your relationship with each other. Yes, it may feel weird to you, but if it makes your cat feel closer to you, why not let it for a while?
It is important to know that not every cat has had the same childhood and habits. Some cats express their love for you by licking your hand, but others could be signaling other emotions that shouldn’t be ignored.
Are you giving it enough attention?
Don’t neglect your feline friend! One reason they often approach you is to lick your hand because at least this way, maybe they can get your attention.
If this is the case, don’t let it come to this! Not giving your cat enough attention it needs can cause a rough patch in your relationship, without you getting a hint about it.
To solve the hand licking issue in this case, try to play with your cat daily. A few minutes a day should be enough to fulfill your cat’s feelings.
You can also spend a few minutes just sitting with your cat and enjoying each other’s company.
Bonus if you stroke its head and back, cat’s love that. But be careful while rubbing the belly of your cat some cats are sensitive to it.
Is this why your cat is licking your hand? Go give it the attention it needs!
Cats are very territorial creatures. It sounds fine until you bring another cat home, then you have to get separate bowls, two litter boxes one each for cats, and everything else for the new cat because the old one just won’t share.
Don’t worry, not all cats are like this, some openly share without hesitation, others, not so much. So when a cat wants a human to be just ‘his’, it’s going to lick your hand.
At times, it might also lick your ears and wipe the earwax off while marking its territory.
The point is, licking your hand might just be a sign of your cat not wanting to share you with anyone.
Perhaps it is just another way of showing your love and letting other cats know they need to keep their distance from you.
Your cat may be stressed
If your cat is stressed, you will usually see the signs almost immediately if you look closely.
One of the signs of anxiety and stress is excessive licking and grooming of its fur, as well as licking humans.
It is said that cats in stress lick their fur so much that a large amount of hair is lost and even ingested which isn’t good for them.
You may find your cat licking your hand the most, and if the licking is constant it gets annoying. You don’t want to have scratches on your hand from too much licking. And in stress, your cat might swipe at you.
So as soon as you notice your cat showing symptoms of anxiety when licking your hand, talk to a vet for solutions immediately.
Food traces on your hands
If your cat is licking your hand out of the blue, ask yourself, did you handle some food with your hands recently?
If you answered yes, then chances are that this is the reason your cat is licking your hand.
Especially if you handled cat food or cat treats, your cat might be going nuts over your hands!
Cats can also be attracted to the scents and tastes of human foods, but if you worked with some spices or flavourful food, you might want to wash your hands thoroughly.
Otherwise, if your cat licks any such material off your hand, it can harm its gastrointestinal health and make it sick.
Lotion or scented products
Not only food, but cats also like to sniff and lick unusual odors.
Interestingly, lotions, body washes, and perfumed products in general intrigue cats and if your hand smells like any of these, your cat may lick it.
Of course, if the licking is a one-time occurrence, then this case may be suitable.
But if it is a common occurrence, then there might be another reason behind your cats’ hand licking.
Is my cat licking my hand harmful?
All this talks about why your cat might lick your hand, but what about whether it is healthy to do so?
If we talk about the cat and whether it is harmful to it, then the answer is no. No matter how much your cat licks your hand, it shouldn’t face any health issues.
This is because cats are already used to grooming themselves clean by licking their fur. Even if they lick your hand aggressively, it doesn’t hurt them.
Unless your hand contains traces of artificial flavorings, only then can it be caused.
However, the case is different for humans. If you or anyone in your family has weak immunity, then you can be a victim of disease especially if you have a cut in your skin.
Cat’s tongue is like a rough material; if it licks you repeatedly for long periods, you can also get multiple scratches on your hands.
The most risk for humans lies if your cat is sick. Saliva is a source of transmitting diseases so if you did not wash your hands thoroughly after getting licked by your cat, then you can acquire the disease.
So the next time your cat is having the time of its life licking your hand, you should make an effort to discourage it.
How to stop my cat from licking my hand?
There are some ways you can stop your cat from licking your hand, but you have to slowly condition your cat to stop the habit. Doing it abruptly can cause the cat to lose its trust in you.
One way you can stop the cat is to make a disapproving voice whenever it comes by to lick your hand. You can also slowly move your hand away.
This way the cat will get the hint and learn that this habit is not acceptable by its owner. You should also make it a habit to wash your hands regularly, this way no food traces or fragrances will be leftover, inclining the cat to lick. You can also introduce it to another habit instead, like playing with a new toy or utensil.
We would avoid letting your cat get into the habit of licking other objects. Because this can cause it to ingest bacteria and infections and get sick. If all else fails, you should take your cat to the vet for a thorough checkup and guidelines on how to train it to stop licking your hand.
In conclusion, are you confused as to why your cat licks your hand?
If you are, don’t worry about it! Cats can express many emotions through licking your hands such as love, stress, anxiety, certain odors, and territorial satisfaction.
These are the most common reasons, but if you find that none of these reasons fit your cat’s constant hand licking, consult a vet.
Moreover, your cat licking your hand is not harmful to your cat, but it can be harmful to you if your cat has some sort of disease. This is because it can penetrate through the skin and poor hygiene.
Lastly, there are a couple of ways you can stop your cat from licking your hand, but make sure you are gentle with your feline friend.
These creatures are sensitive and any wrong move could cause harm to your beautiful relationship!