Cat owners around the globe usually have one universal question in mind and that is “Why does my cat lick my nose?”
This is a behavior of cats that may be puzzling to many cat parents.
What are the reasons behind this strange habit?
Keep reading to find out!
Why does my cat lick my nose? (6 reasons)
There are a variety of reasons why your cat licks your nose.
Even among humans, the human nose holds a special spot when it comes to creating a strong bond.
For cats, it too is a habit of theirs that has meaning, and knowing why this behavior in cats exists will help in improving the bond between you and your cat.
#1 A form of affection
You should take it as a huge compliment and as a sweet gesture once your cat starts to lick your nose.
One of the more common reasons why your feline furball may do this is simple affection.
This is a display of affection from your feline friend and a way of telling you that you are loved and appreciated by your pet.
In other words, if you show your feline affection through petting, she shows affection in return by licking.
This affectionate behavior most probably is a learned one from your cat’s mother.
A mother cat usually licks her kittens from birth to clean them and to create a social bond with them.
This demonstration of affection is then probably used by your cat on you to show you that he cares about you.
Do take note that this behavior leads to an improved social bonding between you and your cat. Well, in his eyes, at least…
#2 Your Cat owns you!
Cats, generally, can be very loyal creatures. They can also be quite possessive.
When your cat licks you, it is his way of showing the world that he owns you.
After all, you are his human. No one else can have you except him (and probably other family members).
Remember, as much as human owners feel that they own their cats, human owners should take note that humans, too, are owned by their feline owners.
It is through a nose lick that your cat tells the world that no one else can have you.
It is also its way of telling you that you are now accepted and that you belong to his family unit.
#3 It wants you to notice him
Cats need to be noticed A LOT.
And when I say a lot, that probably means almost every minute of every hour.
They usually like when they are the center of your world. (Yes, they do tend to be clingy that way.)
Call it attention-seeking behavior but this can be another reason why cats will lick your nose.
It’s to tell you that he is there and that it’s about time that you focus on him.
Licking your nose is short of telling you to drop all that you are doing and to start putting in some time for him.
Let him be the center of your world for that very moment.
#4 Cleaning time
Cats are basically clean animals. Not only do they bathe themselves, but often other members of their family.
Since YOU are part of that family, your cat will lick your nose if he feels that it needs to clean you.
There simply cannot be any unkempt member in a cat family. Unlike dogs, in this sense, cats can be quite low maintenance.
This also means that he expects you to maintain that same standard of hygiene that he has. (It really doesn’t have anything to do with you showering,it’s just…them…)
#5 You’re salty and they like it!
On the other hand, the taste of your sweat can be quite appealing to their taste buds.
(Someone finally accepts the sweaty you!) Your sweat has natural salt which most probably tickles their taste buds.
So don’t be surprised if they start licking you on your nose and every other body part where they feel they can get hold of a bit of salt through your sweat.
#6 They need to calm down
Cats are basically calm animals. They really aren’t fond of surprises or changes in their environment.
A new pet dog, a new family companion, or anything that is out of the usual can be a point of stress for your beloved feline.
If at any point, your pet starts feeling overwhelmed or stressed, he may start to lick your nose in order to soothe himself.
You may also notice your cat licking floor in order to calm himself down. Licking brings sensations to your cat that can help calm its nerves.
Take note too of any injury on your cat’s part since one source of stress which may need immediate attention would be any injury on your cat’s body.
This is especially important if your cat has a thick coat since any injury may go quite unnoticeable.
How To Stop My Cat From Licking My Nose
As cute and sweet as it may sound, cat licking isn’t always a pleasant experience.
A cat’s tongue can be quite rough due to the presence of structures on them known as papillae.
This rough tongue may actually feel like sandpaper rubbing on your skin. Papillae are there in order to help your cat clean itself.
It also is there to help your cat hold water whenever it attempts to drink or to help your cat get any minute food particles that are stuck on his food container.
If done often, your skin may start to get irritated and you may find the sensation quite unpleasant.
In this case, you may want to stop your cat from licking you.
To do this outright though may be quite cold and it may hurt your cat’s feelings.
The best way to stop him from licking is to distract him with toys or by introducing some activity to your cat.
The moment you notice that your cat is preparing himself to lick you, start playing with him or showing him something that will catch his attention.
That way, he will stop thinking of licking you and instead, shift his attention to something else.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A CAT LICKS YOUR FACE?
There are a variety of reasons why your cat may lick your face. One of the most common reasons is it is his way of showing or returning affection to his human. It is his way of bonding with his adopted human. It may also be his way of grooming his human.
A cat licking himself is his way of grooming himself since cats are pretty clean pets. Licking its owner is its way of extending his grooming habits to someone he considers like family.
SHOULD I LET MY CAT LICK MY FACE?
As sweet as this may seem, it’s best to not let your cat lick your face. A cat’s saliva does contain bacteria and other kinds of microorganisms that may be transferred to your face. It may be a health risk, especially for children and individuals who have highly compromised immune systems.
Try to find other sources of bonding between you and your cat in order for both of you to express your affection towards each other. Keep licking at a minimum. Better yet, try to avoid it if you can.
WHY DOES MY CAT LICK ME WHILE I PET HER?
A cat may lick you when you start to pet her for a number of reasons. it may be her returning affection or it may be because she doesn’t quite appreciate the way you are petting her.
Another reason could be because there might be some irritation on the area which she hasn’t noticed until the moment you start petting her. A skin condition, such as the presence of ticks and mites, may also be another reason why your cat starts to lick you when you pet her.
It is best to check your cat’s condition, especially if this habit of licking happens more often than usual.
All pets have habits that are learned or simply just part of their nature. For cats, the habit of licking is second nature to them.
It is important for you, as their human, to understand why this habit is there because this is your pet’s way of communicating with you.
Licking is one of its many ways to show affection and care towards you.
It is important that you understand this and accept this nature in order for your bond to be strengthened.
This will help the both of you develop a sense of comfort towards each other as you look forward to several years together.
- Colgate. 2019. “How Cats Show Affection to Their Humans.” Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Publisher. October 30, 2019. https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/behavior-appearance/six-ways-cats-show-affection#:~:text=How%20Cats%20Show%20Affection%20to%20Their%20Humans%201,5%20Following%20You.%20…%206%20Bringing%20Gifts.%20.
- “Why Do Some Cats Lick Themselves When You Pet Them? | PurrfectPost.com.” 2021. Purrfectpost.com. PurrfectPost. 2021. https://www.purrfectpost.com/why-do-some-cats-lick-themselves-or-the-air-when-you-pet-them/.
What do you think of a cat licking nose? Please share your thoughts below!
Barry Stingmore is a British content creator living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats.
Barry works with the island’s animal charities to help manage and care for feral and abandoned animals. Alongside fieldwork, he works to support the charities with fundraising and raising awareness.