Last Updated: 6 months ago

This is a cat behavior that may be puzzling to many cat parents.

There are a variety of reasons why your cat may lick your face. One of the most common reasons is that 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 family.

9 Reasons Why Does My Cat Lick My Nose

cat licking her owner's nose

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

grey cat showing affection

You should take it as a huge compliment and 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 is most likely 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 to show you that he cares about you.

Do take note that this behavior leads to improved social bonding between you and your cat. Well, in his eyes, at least.

#2 Your Cat owns you!

cat lying on the bed beside her owner

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 his way of telling you that you are now accepted and that you belong to his family unit.

#3 It wants you to notice him

man kissing her cat

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 it 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

cat licking the woman's face thinking "why does my cat lick my nose?"

Cats are basically clean animals. Not only do they bathe themselves, but often other members of their family as well.

Since YOU are part of that family, your cat will lick your nose if he feels that it needs to be cleaned.

There simply cannot be any unkempt members in a cat family. Unlike dogs, in this sense, cats can be quite low-maintenance.

This also means that he expects you to maintain the same standard of hygiene that he does. (It really doesn’t have anything to do with you showering; it’s just them.)

#5 You’re salty and they like it!

kitty licking his owner's face

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 likely 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

an affectionate Siamese cat sitting on her owner's lap

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 ordinary can be a source 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 that 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 unnoticed.

#7 They’re Bonding With You

Building a trusting relationship with your kitty takes time, but these 10 ways to bond with your cat can help make it go a lot smoother.

One of the ways that cats bond and socialize with fellow cats is through grooming and licking. It’s a form of love and affection, as mentioned.

So, if they’re feeling particularly close to you, they may lick your nose as a bonding tactic, bringing you two closer together.

Licking littermates and friends is a way for cats to mix their scents to be closer to one another, so they may be mixing their scent with yours and vice versa as a form of bonding.

#8 They See You As Family

Relaxed and tamed cat

Your cat probably licks your nose because they consider you a member of their family or their “pride.” It’s almost like a sign of initiation or a secret handshake!

Cats will not lick the noses of people, cats, or animals they do not know very well or trust, so a sweet nose lick means you’re in the club!

A nose lick means that you’ve gained your cat’s trust and are now one of their family members, which is a huge compliment considering how picky cats can be.

If you have other cats or animals, you may notice them doing this with them, too, if they’re friends.

#9 Out of Habit

cat next to a cat litter box

A simple answer to why your cat licks your nose is simply out of habit!

They may start licking your nose for any or all of the reasons discussed above, but after a while, giving your nose an affectionate lick may just become part of their happy little routine.

Like humans, cats can develop habits quite easily, so if they lick your nose every day for a few weeks, it will likely become a solid habit, and they’ll feel compelled to do it all the time!

Luckily, nose-licking is completely fine and not a sign that something is wrong with your friendly feline.

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 it known as papillae.

This rough tongue may actually feel like sandpaper rubbing against your skin. Papillae are there in order to help your cat clean itself.

It is also 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.

Closing Thoughts

All pets have habits that are learned or simply part of their nature. For cats, the habit of licking is second nature.

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 for you.

It is important that you understand and accept this nature in order for your bond to be strengthened.

This will help the both of you develop a sense of comfort for each other as you look forward to several years together.

What do you think about why does my cat lick my nose? Please share your thoughts below!


man holding his cat licking his face

Barry Stingmore
Barry Stingmore

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.