Cats are generally known to be strict with boundaries and they love keeping a safe distance, even from their owners. But there’s something else they love doing that just makes their entire persona confusing. They love licking their owner’s noses.
When a cat licks your nose, it means that they trust you. For territorial animals to come close to you and even go as far as licking your nose, then you really must be someone special to them. Or it could mean that they want your attention.
Unlike dogs, cats are even more unpredictable. If you are a cat owner who has been wondering why your cat keeps on licking your nose, then the following sections are perfect for you.
Your Cat Likes You
Licking is a way for cats to show affection. Immediately after their birth, the first sign of affection they receive is getting licked by their mom out of their amniotic sac.
The mother cat barely stops licking her litter until all of them look groomed and comfortable. Throughout their lives, you may notice them licking each other as well, especially as there are some portions of their bodies that they cannot reach themselves.
So when a cat licks you, it is likely that they are emulating their mothers and siblings in expressing affection and connectedness.
They Want To Groom You
Cats have this instinct to clean themselves using their tongue continuously. In fact, they spend around 30 to 50% of their time grooming themselves and other cats.
Your nose may also have been the receiving end of this special grooming treatment. When this happens, it does not necessarily mean that you have dirt on your nose. More likely, it’s their way of saying that you’re family.
Your Cat Wants Your Attention
At some point, your cat may have tried scratching you with their cute little paws to grab your attention. But also, that may have left them hearing your load scream as their sharp nails clawed into your skin and left painful scratches, complete with all the scary red lines.
Cats quickly learn their lesson, although it may not always be obvious as their stubbornness often gets in the way.
In any case, they surely would not want to hurt their cat parents or leave them screaming at them. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have evolved to lick your nose instead.
They Are Playing With You
If you are the type to get tickled easily, then your cat may take it as you’re up for some fun games when you start giggling after they lick your nose. Feeling tickled sends a message to your brain to give out some laugh, and somehow, it makes you feel happy.
So when a cat licks your nose, you may usually end up playing with them for some time.
If you are a long-time cat owner, you probably know by now that cats have excellent memory capacities. Chances are they remember that licking your nose is actually a good trick to pull if they wanted to have a playmate.
The next time your cat licks your nose, observe how they playfully jump for joy when you throw them a toy to catch.
To Show You That They Are Stressed
While the idea of cats licking your nose is usually a good thing, on some occasions, it could also be a sign that they are stressed out. Kittens are significantly more prone to stress and are likely to lick your nose when they feel vulnerable or anxious.
Some stress triggers include moving to a new place, being introduced to new cats, and deafening noises.
While cats may often seem distant, in reality, they love the feeling of having constants. They prefer routines more than surprises and will likely express their territorial nature by observing your daily routine and carving their schedule around it.
When sudden changes happen around the house, you may notice your tiny kitten starting to lick your nose more often. Give the cute little kitty some love and comfort, and make it feel as safe as possible.
Why Cats Lick Each Other
Initially, this self-licking habit comes from seeing their mothers groom them after birth. The mother cat also called the queen, ideally licks her kitten’s way out of its amniotic sac. This step of the birthing process is necessary for the kittens to survive.
If you notice a kitten among the litter left alone in its sac after birth, helping it out is a matter of life and death.
At other times, cats lick themselves to feel pleasure or simply clean themselves from dirt or fleas that are literally getting into their skin.
They could also be licking their wounds to give it somehow a cleanse and avoid nasty infections. Licking your nose can be safe, but when the licking starts to appear obsessive, this could be a sign that your cat is under a lot of stress.
Is Letting My Cat Lick My Nose Safe?
Letting your cat lick your nose is safe, as long as you or they are not sick. It is also safe if you don’t have an open wound on your nose. Cat saliva may contain harmful chemicals that may damage your skin, especially if you have open wounds.
This concern remains valid even though their saliva also contains histatins, which proved to hasten wound healing. You never know what other compounds exist in your cat’s saliva, and harmful organisms may thrive there too.
So to err on the side of caution, it is best to at least wash your face after giving in to your cat’s sweet gesture.
Feeding your cat with healthy meals and bringing them to routine checkups also minimize the potential negative impacts that could happen if they lick your nose.
Will It Hurt if I Let My Cat Lick My Nose?
It will not hurt if you let your cat lick your nose, but instead, it will feel much like sandpaper or a loofah brush. You probably would not feel pain if your cat licks you occasionally and at short intervals.
However, if they start doing this excessively, you might begin to notice the skin on your nose starting to feel sore. If you zoom in on your cat’s tongue, you’ll see that it contains spine-like structures called papillae.
Should I Let My Cat Lick My Nose?
You should let your cat lick your nose only if you want to. However, if it is irritating or it causes you pain, you should withdraw and stop your cat from licking your nose. Cats licking your nose is nowhere near a life and death situation. It’s generally safe too.
The odds of you suffering from any negative impact will also significantly narrow down if you simply wash your face afterward.
AnimalWised elaborates further on the many reasons why your cat seems to like licking you. It is generally a good sign, especially when it comes to the strength in the connection that you and your cat have.
However, the video also mentions how licking could also be a sign of stress, so be mindful about your cat’s mental health too!
We sometimes feel like it is impossible to understand cats. The thing is, cats are just so much like us. We appear tough on the outside, but when we get comfortable with people, we eventually do unique things to show we trust them.
To us humans, we may show it through engaging in deep conversations. But for cats who technically cannot say anything but their sweet purs or angry meows, they simply lick your nose to hoping it would do the trick.
Just remember that it’s safe, but only as long as it doesn’t bite you.
- Pet Health Network: Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
- Cornell University: Cats that Lick Too Much
- Modkat: How much do cats remember?
- The Conscious Cat: Why Cats Thrive on Routine
- The Spruce Pets: Why Cats Groom Themselves So Often
- Purr Craze: Should I Let My Cat Lick My Face?
- Youtube: Why does my cat LICK ME? 🐱 – 6 COMMON REASONS
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.