Licking The Hand That Feeds You | Why Cats Lick Hands

Cats lick hands for a variety of reasons. And yes, one of them is love!
Dear Thomasina...
Why do cat lick hands? My cat does that all the time. Does that mean she loves me?
-- Curious Cat Mom

Hey, Curious!
Cats lick hands for a few reasons, and one of them is love!

Sometimes being around a human we like and trust brings out the mom cat in us. Just like our mothers licked us when we were kittens to keep us clean, some cats lick hands to get all that invisible (to you) dirt off.

Cats Lick Hands With Invisible Sponges

Your cat's tongue is well equipped to do this, too. Did you know our tongues feel like sandpaper because they're covered with little barbs or papillae (in case you wondering, that's not a word I use a lot. My humans typist added it.). These tiny hooks face backward and are made of keratin (Yikes! Thanks, human typist), the same material our claws are made of (Well, I did know that. I just didn't know what it's called).

The barbs work like a comb and help us separate our fur to get to the dirt underneath.

If your cat licks your hand and nips at the same time, she's probably trying to get rid of an especially pesky piece of dirt.

Of course, it's also possible that she licks because she likes the taste of your hand cream or soap, or your hand might taste a bit salty.

Whatever her reason for licking your hand, to us, licking is a bonding experience. When your cat licks your hand, not only is she getting you clean or enjoying a taste she likes, she's covering your hand with her scent so the world knows you belong to her.

What do you think? That sounds like love to me!

Today's Recommendation
This adult coloring book
looks relaxing and fun.


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