When it comes to personal hygiene, cats are the epitome of cleanliness. They are naturally equipped with the implements to groom themselves: a barbed tongue with which to lick, forepaws they moisten with saliva and use as a surrogate washcloth, and teeth to dig out tougher debris. Believe it or not, adult cats may spend as much as half of their waking hours grooming themselves, their relatives and friends.
The licking marks you as a member of the animal's family and spreads the cat's scent. Just as adult cats scratch certain places to mark their territory, licking your skin or hair is a way of claiming you. Of course, if your cat grooms your hair after a shower or your hands after you've applied lotion, it could simply be that your shampoo or lotion has an enticing scent or taste.
Does your feline companion lick you, and are you wondering why? It also helps to reduce conflict within the group 1. If your cats are generally healthy and behaving normally, licking is a positive indicator that they like you and want to be closer.
Why do their tongues feel so strange and why are they so obsessed with using them? Cat tongues are designed to be highly efficient multipurpose tools. The barbs are covered in keratin the same material that cat claws and human fingernails are made of for strength and durability and are oriented such that they point backward, towards the throat. Longer barbs are found in the center of the tongue and shorter ones line the sides.
After spending a good half-hour bathing himself, your cuddly buddy heads over to you. Without fail, every single time you lay your head on your pillow, Sam comes along and "washes" your hair. Cats lick people's hair for a variety of reasons, but be careful.
Cats do lots of things that often leave us wondering. My cat, Tom, does this—and always to my feet. Kinda weird, right?
There weren't many things Spider enjoyed nearly as much as licking and sucking on chins and earlobes. He wasn't always gentle about it either One minute he'd be contentedly purring sweet nothings while 'nursing' on a chin or an earlobe and the next he'd latch on tight, hanging there like big, furry costume jewelry.
Grooming is hence simply a sign of feline affection! Cats groom their peers for another reason: Territoriality. While we can be pleased to deserve such attention at first, cat drool in our hair or a rough tongue on our delicate skin usually is not as much appreciated as our cat thinks. Gently pushing your cat away or petting him back is not going to give him the message you want.