Some cats, especially those who were weaned too early or abruptly may engage in excessive licking and also may suckle on soft objects, your clothing, or even parts of your body such as your earlobes.
When Your Cat Licks You it Can be a Bit Painful
A cat’s tongue has backward-facing barbs on it that are made of keratin. These barbs help the cat rasp meat from the bones of captured prey. The barbs are also important in grooming because they help the cat remove dead hair, debris and parasites from the fur. While these barbs are certainly very useful, they create that scratchy feeling when your cat licks you. If the cat remains fixated on licking you in the same spot repeatedly, it can definitely become uncomfortable.
Reducing How Much Your Cat Licks You
If your cat is licking as a self-soothing behavior then it’s important to identify the cause of her stress. If you have a multicat household, look at the relationships between the cats and see if there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. You may need to increase vertical territory, provide more resources in more locations and work on helping the cats form a peaceful co-existence.
There are many other causes of stress and some are subtle and easy for human family members to miss.
Provide more enrichment and outlets for energy. Engage your cat in interactive play sessions and also provide opportunities for solo play. Offer food puzzle toys so your cat has positive forms of distraction to keep her busy.
You can probably tell when your cat is getting ready to start licking you. There may be a typical position you get in that becomes inviting to her. Learn to recognize the early signs so you can distract her with a toy. You can let her cuddle close to you but be ready to place an inviting toy or small pillow between the two of you.
Playtime is a confidence-building activity so when you first notice the signs of impending licking behavior, engage your cat in an interactive play session. Successfully capturing her “prey” helps change her mindset from needy to confident.