Why doesn't my cat lick me?

  • I have a three to four year old female Siamese cat. She is from a local shelter and according to them she was dropped off by someone who found her wandering around on his deck. So she was likely abandoned.

    She is a very affectionate cat. She likes to sleep on top of me, she demands to be pet the moment either my husband or I have walked in the door. She's very loud just... not too bright. She falls off things and runs into assorted objects (including my other cat) and the vet says her eye sight is fine. She's always playing with anything she comes across and I swear she is a perpetual energy machine.

    Anyway, unlike my older male Tuxedo, she never licks my hand. Instead, she always nips at it. Never hard enough to draw blood, but there are definitely teeth involved.

    Any idea why she doesn't lick? She cleans herself and will lick the other cat but never the humans.

    My cat, Junie has stopped licking me in the last week. At first she would lick me once or twice and then do a funny thing with her tongue, like trying to get peanut butter off of it. I've been taking heavy-duty antibiotics - could it be that she can taste them on my skin and she doesn't like it? She is not drooling at all, and is eating as usual.

  • Beo

    Beo Correct answer

    7 years ago

    I have noticed most cats don't lick people a great deal. I have had only one cat who licks quite a bit. One cat always licks a couple of times then nips. Licking is both a grooming and a social behavior and also a form of kitty first aid. I always liken the social aspect to monkeys picking fleas off each other or girls bushing each other's hair.

    A typical greeting between friendly cats in the same clowder (group of cats) is the less dominant cat to head butt the more dominant cat. The dominant cat then will lick the head of the less dominant cat. (I use the word dominant out of convenience but it is really more complex than that). Mom cats spend a lot of time licking their kittens. Sometimes you can see two cats just laying around licking each other at the same time which is probably more of a grooming behavior. Some people believe cats see us as their mother because we feed and groom them, so they may expect to be licked (pet).

    So in classical kitty terms your cat may expect you to pet her since you are the dominant cat, and she would not presume to lick you as that would be inappropriate. Naturally the cats don't follow the rule 100% of the time and some cats are just "special" like the cat who licks me for 15 minutes straight. It is the same with people... we don't always say hello or shake hands even though we believe it to be appropriate. Some people never say hello or shake hands.

    Licking behavior directed at others can also be influenced by one or more of the following:

    1. They like / don't like the way you taste.
    2. They feel you need / don't need grooming.
    3. Their ideas about appropriate social behavior.
    4. Genetic factors.
    5. Your reinforcement of their licking behavior.
    6. Their mood.
    7. Their impression of your mood.

    Odds are the cat who does not lick you is just observing proper cat etiquette. The other cat who does lick you may be "special" or has been conditioned to lick.

    +1 for "proper cat etiquette", that was a good one!

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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