HomeCat BehaviorgroomingWhy does my cat lick himself where I have stroked him?


Why does my cat lick himself where I have stroked him? — 11 Comments

  1. I have a domestic longhaired cat who is two years old. She is incredibly tiny – she sits easily on two hands. We rescued her from the blue cross, and she is CRAZY affectionate. When i stroke her for a couple of minutes she will climb my front to sit on my shoulder. Whats different though that i have never noticed on a different cat is that she will chase off other cats (we have 3 and two dogs) that try to say hi. That includes the dogs. Is that normal??

    • It is normal in so far as each individual cat has his/her own personality. Is she chasing off the others when she is on your shoulder? That is the way I interpret your comment.

      She is very attached to you. She is perhaps a bit insecure and needs to be with you and doesn’t want that to be interfered with. She likes sitting on you high up. This indicates possible insecurity. She is reassured when with you.

      It all depends on the cat. A cat’s personality is formed through inheritance and experience. Perhaps she became anxious at the Blue Cross. Having discovered the pleasures of your excellent company she wants more and she wants in alone.

      I’d guess that she will become more relaxed but if she has been with you for a while that may not happen. If she is fairly new to your home I suspect she’ll change in time. Thanks Shadow for visiting and sharing.

  2. Whenever I’m stroking my cat, he’ll start to wash. Not where I’ve been stroking him (or petting, I think people in the US call it?), just wherever he can reach, like his front paws. Any idea why? Is my stroking him bothering him?

    • Hi Rachel. This is not bothering him and it is quite normal. I do have a page on this by the way which you can read here. If he is washing where you have not been stroking him is probably because in stroking him you have set him off and motivated him to self-groom anywhere.

  3. Interesting, i always wondered why they did that. I always thought they did that as a sign saying that they love us. I always knew they were grooming as well. That sure was a long comment from marc. Interesting to read things, when you haven’t seen things in awhile even though i got these messages. I wish i could write a long comment, but i always find it hard and run out of things to say.

  4. I think you are right but I think both theories are right, it just depends on the particular moment. I notice if I stroke Lilly after she’s had a good long post meal clean and she’s all neat and tidy and squeeky clean then she re-cleans that same spot. But other moments are more like the one you described in the article and it’s clearly not for the same reason and its in a very different way. Cleaning has alot of order to it. Red used to leave the base of his tail til last. He was a very systematic cleaner of his long fur. I think you’re right Michael with both of those reasons. The underlying point being that when we touch our cats they are smelling and tasting us alot more than we can imagine. Infact I believe cats have this way of tasting the air, the scientific name oof which I forgot, but they will open their mouth and breath both through their mouth and nose whilst sort of tasting and smelling at the same time. There’s a name for this I promise 🙂 – So petting and all that has this very major dimension to them. I honestly think sometimes they want to smell and taste whereas other times the totally don’t and are not in the mood. Jusy in the same way for a human, sometimes it’s nice to get a back massage (quite alot of the time probably) but there are also times when one doesn’t want that. For a cat its the same except it has this extra layer of scent smell/taste to it. When I get home from work and my feet are particularly hot and I take of my shoes, Lilly gets all excited about sticking her face in my sweaty steamy shoes and rubs all over them. I guess she missed me and is glad I’m home 🙂 – she’s a real big scent consuming cat. I think animals can even smell if you are scared and perhaps if you are angry or in a good or bad mood lets say – if they know you well then its possible I would guess. So according to that theory I’m sure they don’t like certain of your smells and they do ike certain others, perhaps based partly on mood but there’s obviously so many other things that effect and change your day to day scent starting with diet and going on from there in to things like where you have been that day, whether you are warm or cold, if you have just washed. I dont think they like clean humans and clean houses. When I vaccum I feel a bit bad because I am taking away little dust bunnies and various smells and dust that has built up over the previous week or more. When it’s all clean and tidy there is less to stimulate them. Cats are just so smell oriented I guess. Some cats want your scent when its cuddling time but would rather sleep facing the other way in a ball to be in their own scent although near you. Other cats like to sleep with their nose right infront of your nose and mouth. They seem to all be different and individual in that respect. Perhaps they lick off yoru scent when its mixed with something they dont like but vice versa when its mixed with something new they like or are sort of tasting for the first time. Like trying to single out a flavour in a new dish, sometimes you take quite a number of bites so you can try and focus on it and work out what it is.

    I guess all I am saying is the world of smells and tastes with regard to a cat and his or her caretaker is a complex and ever changing thing. I’d love to know how varied the smell of my hands can be to my cats and what that means to them. I also wonder if humans release all that much of their scent through their hands – it doesn’t seem a likely place.

    • Nice thought. Perhaps it is more complicated that I suggested. The reasons may vary. I agree cats do smell the air. They open their mouths and suck in air that passes over a sensory organ in the roof of their mouth that is particularly sensitive to scent particles. It is the Flehmen response and the organ is the Jacobson’s organ. Cats rely on smell and scents to a high degree. As Dan said it is a form of “sight”.

      • Thanks for that – I couldn’t remember the name of the organ or the name of the process/response. I’m terrible with names 🙂 “a form of sight” is a really nice way to put it.

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