See more of this duo on my personal blog, E&T. Cats also have a tolerance for how much stimulation they can take, and a bite is a warning that you’ve overdone it. She may also nip you instead of licking, what interesting is she will put what ever she plans to lick or bite between her two front paws to hold you still so you can’t take it away. When a cat smells our nose or mouth, they are extracting information from its most potent source. (Or In General). It helps them build trust and familiarity, so let your cat sniff away! It will then approach, and possibly bite you. That was the 2nd thing that came to mind after my cat began the habitual licking of my hands… First, being a sign of affection, of course. – Standards & Colors, Do Cats Have Ankles? I know how enjoyable it is petting and fussing a cat, but we have to remember that they might not want to be petted. Do you have any more guesses with regards to why cats sometimes lick fingers & hands? If your cat is biting your fingers when you pet them, it’s likely down to one or more of the reasons I’ve listed in this article. In terms of why cats sometimes lick their owners’ hands and fingers, I honestly think there are so many different reasons, it’s hard to come up with a short list. If you have a playful cat, long fingernails are going to be fun to chase and bite. I know this is likely so obviously you’d either think of it first, or wouldn’t think of it at all. My Cat Wants Way Too Much Attention! Some sources say cats have 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavity — more than most breeds of dogs. By finding out why they feel the need to nibble on your fingers, you can do something to stop and change their behavior. Cats (and dogs) operate of their sense of smell. “One way to see if the cat is amicable to being pet after just meeting them is to let the cat sniff your hand and then watch how they behave,” Vitale says. Why does a cat smell something and then keep its mouth open for what seems like an abnormally long amount of time? Grooming helps cats to relax and exchange scents with each other, cementing their acceptance into the colony. Cats have thirty of these receptor proteins, dogs have nine and humans have two. Back when we first met, he definitely would continue licking even after I took away my hand, finding some other body part or a piece of my clothing to continue on, but he’s developed an understanding of my behaviour over time. I’ve seen this topic come up in discussions loads of times, it’s a pretty common cat behavior. Copyright 2020 by Upgrade Your Cat. She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. Cats can develop compulsive behaviors, just as we can. This is almost certainly going to be the case if you have a kitten or a playful younger cat. Cat Barbering: Why Cats Excessively Lick & Over-Groom ‘Til They Bald, “My Cat Won’t Let Me Cut Her Nails!” Why Cats Hate Claw Trims & How To Do It, 17 Techniques You Can Try to Encourage Your Cat to Play with You. This is the only time you’ll ever catch Avery licking fingers and/or hands, and typically, it has to be something really compelling, as he won’t lick when the smell on my fingers is faint or is of something he’ll eat, but not obsessively. By, how to calm down a kitten when they’re hyper. One is to recognize when your cat is reaching that point. However, when a cat is anxious, it may compulsively lick its owner's hands in order to soothe itself. You don’t have to give in to their demands as and when they want to play. They may enjoy the salty taste, but also may have a salt deficiency or are dehydrated and inherently crave salt, just as, for example, military soldiers are given salt tablets for hydration purposes. Lol. If they do bite your hand or fingers, a firm “No” and placing them on the floor or away from you will get the message across. You can never rule out a cat being led by their sense of taste. There are many reasons why a dog will sniff their owner, or indeed any other human. I think it’s just a behavior that gives her pleasure. If your finger happens to be the most accessible thing at that time, that’s what they’ll use. Obsessed with cats. Cats with severe liver disease or an intestinal blockage may have breath that smells like feces. I feel this is absolutely true of Bjorn. I've heard it's do with checking your overall health. ), Why Do Cats Pant in the Car? Check out all the other blogs I pen & photograph. About me, UpgradeYourCat, and the mission to serve cat owners around the world, Wide-open eyes staring at your or your hand that’s petting them, Eating and drinking more or less than usual. My own article on cats tells how the purr is actually a healing mechanism. I know this behavior all too well. Well, it is your cat, but if your cat smells like that dead skunk on the side of the road you can’t get past at least once in your life, it could mean that your cat was outside and actually tussled with a skunk. Others, however, say dogs win in this … This is because cat tongues have backward-facing hooks that are meant to pull and clean their fur the way a comb would. I don’t know if you want to take this as a compliment or not, but there’s a good chance they just can’t resist the taste. Does your cat typically like to lick in general, or just when it comes to your fingers & hands at times? His major thing is the kneading or “making bread”, goes on and on. Just put them down and walk away. I’d love to hear about it. When cats are comfortable with humans, they lick human hands to indicate and reinforce their feelings. Also if it is a female cat there are certain places that tend to set her off.Let the cat sniff you before you pet him/her, so he/she can become comfortable with you. UpgradeYourCat.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Here’s one you can pick up on Amazon very similar to what I used a few years ago that became a chewing companion for one of my kitties. Your cat may be sniffing your face to greet you just as they would sniff the faces of their fellow cats. Grooming helps cats to relax and exchange scents with each other, cementing their acceptance into the colony. Nibbling, chewing, licking, and biting your hand or fingers are all one and the same thing for the most part. Maybe that’s the reason why your cat gets so creeped-out! The skin is another relatively common source of bad odors in … Why does my cat will sniff my arm or hand and then take a bite. As soon as he starts, I will typically take the hint and start petting him, to which he either starts licking more or stops, happily accepting the cuddles. Then petting her without letting her nibble me again. If he was somehow prevented from licking them, he had a build up of saliva and would gulp while being pet. No one wants a stressed kitty, but it can easily happen. However, a main reason a cat smells our face or sniffs our nose is simply to greet us. Just a thought. Your cat thought that your hand was food. I can smell the difference on my hand even after thorough washing, and she licks, gently bites, grabs with her paws, rubs my hand across her mouth/face, etc. Skin Odor. This is an honest mistake. And let’s be honest, even if they’re not difficient, we like the taste of salty things even if we have plenty of salt in our diet – there’s just something about the taste that’s ever-so-delicious! Please take a moment to leave them in the comments down below. Either way, if this is the cause it’s pretty simple to stop. Lyndsay Gamber from California on September 19, 2013: This is a really great Hub! Bjorn doesn’t just lick human hands and fingers. You might be able to find a connection between something you handle and your cat taking a nip. Your cat may really enjoy the act of licking. They Are Being Over-Stimulated (Too Much Petting), They Need Something to Gnaw on (Teething?). Some cats are OK with snuggling, but many do not like to confined in any way, including in your arms. Kittens are blind at birth but their noses still carry fully developed touch receptors! The hits in my household are ridiculously affordable: cat springs, ball track toys, & kick sticks. Did anything on this list strike you as a potential secondary explanation you hadn’t thought of before or is it more likely your first guess was still the most solid reason? Does your cat lick your fingers and/or lick the palms of  your hands at times? It's cute anyway. Older cats may be particularly prone to this action. (I have 2-Ziggy/9 & Aiko/4) about to adopt a new baby 6 months. There are loads of cat toys that are gloves with long fingernails like this one on Amazon; If you have really long nails, your hand is basically a live cat toy. Nowadays, I tell him, “Thank you!” and move my hand out of the way once I’m done, and he stops trying to lick. When anyone would pet Licky, he had to lick them. I mean, he really HAD to lick them. Maybe that’s the reason why your cat gets so creeped-out! You can take these “kisses” as a sign that your cat feels safe and happy.. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you have something delicious on your skin that your kitty wants to taste. If your feline friend loves to lick you, it probably means it would like some affection in return. She is marking you with her scent but, sometimes cats smell our hands and fingers to decide whether we smell ok to touch them. By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them. $\begingroup$ Searching for an answer, because our cat does the same thing, she goes crazy for my hands if I've gotten plain Clorox bleach (sodium hypochlorite) on them. My own cat, Tara, headbutts me constantly when she’s sitting on top of me, and half the time she knocks my glasses off my face when she does it. I know this worked after a while because she stopped doing it with me – but did it with my wife. Fond of my fluffies? As in, if he licked my fingers, he wanted me to rub his head or ears then give him the fingers back so he could lick some more. : As you can see, lashing out and biting or nibbling could be a sign of stress. Learn more here. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases; learn more here. Two cats living in the same house may smell each other when one comes in from the outside or comes back from the vet to confirm information about the cat's state including diet, stress, availability for mating, and mood." As stress is bad for a cat’s health in the long-term. My newly adopted furbaby, Bjorn – a stray cat who just wouldn’t leave our property – is obsessed with licking. Cats clean their feline friends and family members. When they sniff you, it means they are very much interested in your scent, and like what they are smelling. While this is typically hard to do, toys like these that allow cats to play by themselves make the job one heck of a lot easier. Remember, to your cat being licked feels good, it doesn't know it is hurting you. Why Does My Cat Bite My Fingers When I Pet Him? I loved your article, and the happy-ending stories. Some cats may bite after licking us as a warning sign so that we stop petting them, others may do it as a sign of affection and a third group could do it as another sequence that leads to grooming, i.e they think that biting is part of the process of grooming. When they are loved and well cared for, they definitely show it in one way or another! As does excessive grooming, chasing their own tail, and chewing on certain materials – cats love chewing plastic and wool in particular. Cats are very strange creatures and it takes a long while for them to completely trust someone. Whatever the reason, you don’t want your finger to become their chewing toy. It depends how long the nails are, but it’s really no surprise. She jumps up onto my lap and, usually before settling down, has to shove her nose into my mouth to sniff my breath. Nibbling, chewing, licking, and biting your hand or fingers are all one and the same thing for the most part. My own cat, Tara, headbutts me constantly when she’s sitting on top of me, and half the time she knocks my glasses off my face when she does it. A compulsive disorder is categorized as; any abnormal or recurring actions that are out of context with the situation. Licky was a wonderful kitty who sadly passed in January 2020 due to nonregenerative anemia. If you’ve got a cat who likes licking, do let me know if you’ve ever tried out these chew sticks as well and if your cat’s also been obsessed with them like Bjorn has proven himself to be. I have no idea if this is a common thread at all with cats who like to lick, however. When cats are comfortable with humans, they lick human hands to indicate and reinforce their feelings. When Tom is pressing his face into your neck, he's coating you with his own signature perfume. - Answered by a verified Cat Vet. 15 Cute Catnip Toys I’d Love Even More Than My Cat Would. Give your hands a good scrub before petting kitty and see if this makes a difference. Check out how to calm down a kitten when they’re hyper. Your email address will not be published. That being said, I can definitely list my hands smelling as food as a reason he’s likely to lick, as well as a slew of other reasons, which we’ll get into later. It’s a potentially serious health concern that might not improve without seeking the advice of your vet. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn the texture of skin on hands and fingers is really appealing to some cats. Every cat is different and will be affected in different ways to be stressed. What Did You Do? When you buy through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Did you identify what was triggering this behavior and find a way to stop them? It’s worth exploring this as an option if you can rule out the other reasons I’ve listed. Actually, he’s also a big biter. They vocalize their feelings with meows, purrs, and trills. My own article on cats tells how the purr is actually a healing mechanism. Would be interesting to find out. Cats.org list some of the signs that a cat is stressed. Some cats will bite or nibble as a show of affection. If you don’t have some toys or kitty furniture to help keep them amused by themselves,  you should consider it. I imagined this was kind of like what his mom would do. That defensive vocalisation sound a cat makes when they are reacting to something they’re not happy with. If your cat likes to bite your fingers, it could mean they are showing you affection, a throwback to kittenhood behavior, or a sign of aggression to name just three possible reasons. If they smell another animal on our hands, they may chose not to let us touch them at all. Love to hear your thoughts! Gotta love them. If your cat is biting your fingers when you pet them, it’s likely down to one or more of the reasons I’ve listed in this article. You may have to go so far as to bring in something else for your cat to lick, but if your cat is like mine, you likely won’t need to – they’ll probably get the picture. Interrupting this behavior is equivalent to you stopping a friend from shaking hands with someone they are meeting: it can annoy or upset the friend and can make the introduction awkward. Cats need to gnaw on things, just like dogs do. Nibbling on fingers falls under this description. Some cats will get stressed by changes to their daily routines. Your email address will not be published. Cats have a good sense of smell, thanks to the more or less 45 to 200 million olfactory receptors. I’m pretty sure he just wants reassurance that I love him and he’s “special.” I do pet him when he starts licking, but I also cover up most available skin. My male cat does this often when I’m petting him in pretty sure it’s their way of showing affection to their owners in my opinion he’s spoiled as has my only cat but I love him! Whether cats are meeting for the first time or longtime housemates are catching up after three-hour catnaps, they usually greet each other by touching and sniffing each others' noses. This was a question I was sent some time ago but never got around to answering. If your hand is in a resting position after handling food, the cat will smell this and explore. You want to tread the line between letting them know that you appreciate signs of affection, but you don’t appreciate being bitten. He absolutely does lick me when I’m not petting him, however, and he licks other places, like my clothes, which he used to do much more often. Why Do My Hands Smell Sniffing your hands, you immediately smell the unmistakable aroma of stinky stench that comes into your nose instantly whenever you place your hands near your face. Finally, I had a cat from birth (back in 2003) – and this kitty just loved to lick. Another of my kitties, a former feral, licks our couch every morning. Kittens especially will use licking as a way to ease anxiety the way a human might use hugs. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. As soon as one cat meets another they touch and sniff each other's nose. It’s an action that fosters feelings of safety and security, meaning it likely reduces stress considerably. By, Sep 19, 2020 / I loved your article, and the happy-ending stories. Hope it makes some sense, but if it is irrelevant, asinine, and a ridiculously absurd notion, then I’m right on track. I have a cat that used to do this (not as much anymore), he wanted me to clean him with what he licked. Voted up-across and shared. Vocalize it hurts and give them a chew toy instead. Human noses can't smell it, but if another kitty comes nearby, he'll smell Tom's unique essence on you. This is why you may notice your cat approaching a new object with caution. I have a slew scattered around the house, so when my cats get bored, even if I’m busy or not even home, my furries are able to actively play. By, Oct 06, 2020 / It largely revolves around the following factors: Pure instinct. When a cat sniffs your face, they’re simply trying to commit your scent to memory. Cats are also obsessed with being warm, and the human body is a great source of heat. Wave them in front of a kitty with caution! Either way, allogrooming seems to be about dominance, and not really all or even mostly about showing affection to another cat. Not mine, but if this is true of yours – do let me know how you discovered this and if there are particular times that your cat licks to tell you he/she wants something specific. There are two sides to changing or avoiding a nibble from over-stimulation. Kneading is a feline behaviour that may be a leftover from kitten-hood, something like a human child may like to suck on a thumb as a behaviour reminiscent of his or her days as an infant. Stopping them and redirecting their behavior will get the point across. I’d recommend having a “trigger word” like I’ve used “Thank you” to tell your cat what he or she’s doing isn’t naughty, but you’re ready for him or her to stop. A thorough cat licking isn't always the most comfortable experience. If Bjorn starts licking out of the blue while he’s been napping in close proximity to me, I’m convinced this is why. 20 Hilarious Cat Mugs. My arm had gone numb and I didn’t feel the licking. Such as a new arrival to the home, different food, a trip to the vets, and so on. At night, the young male (he’s about four), gets locked in the bedroom with me because he occasionally attacks the other kitties and we don’t want that. I know this is likely so obviously you’d either think of it … I had no idea cats could do that. It’s a frustrating cat behavior because no one wants their fingers bitten, gnawed, or licked. When your cat does this to you, it is like giving a hug and kiss in greeting a friend. She may also sniff your face to smell you and commit your scent to memory to help build trust and familiarity. He is 9 now and doesn’t ask for me to groom him anymore although he will still lick occasionally, just not incessantly. Dogs have a sense of smell that’s up to 1,000 times better than that of a human. You'll get notified each time there's a new post on the blog. Why? Let’s get into the theories, and if you think of ones I missed, or feel your cat is more or less likely to lick your fingered hands for one reason over others – please share in the comments down below! I think he enjoys licking skin over clothing, for example, and considering his like of soap for the fact that it contains animal fat, and the fact that human hands have trace oils on them, I do believe this one adds up. She does not seek you out to lick you. This is their social way to share scents from all their adventures and this action places both cats on equal footing and a vulnerable position. [My cat] won’t lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow and hand are fair game! They can recognise us from a distance. Why does my cat sniff my face? The less dominant cat will sometimes reciprocate, and begin to groom back, but also sometimes will not. Congrats on Hub of the day! Is your cat exhibiting any of the following signs? I always talk to my cats, so I’d speak to them in a soft voice to reassure them too. Some cats seem to use licking as a way of telling their pet parents they’re hungry or want to play. However, when a cat is anxious, it may compulsively lick its owner's hands in order to soothe itself. Bjorn I do find prefers licking while some positive bonding time and socialization is taking place between the two of us, so with him I know it’s not just a matter of my hands smelling of food! You’ll find a connection. Can a Cat Ride in a Car Without a Carrier? Soap is made in part with animal fat, and the same is true of many lotions, so I’m convinced he absolutely would like to lick lotions off my hands if given the chance as well. If so, that's adorably cute. As well as nudging us, staring and blinking, weave between our legs, and even have a nip to get their point across. Short answer: because cats like to sniff things, and when you go reaching towards their head, where their nose is located, they’re going to sniff your fingers. When cats allogroom, it’s typically the dominant cat who begins licking & grooming a second, less dominant cat. 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