Is it all right to let my cat lick my face? You have to answer the question from the point of view of both the human who is asking the question and the cat who is doing the licking. There are different considerations depending upon the point of view.
- Why is your cat licking you?
- Pictures from the Middle Ages of domestic cats licking their anal area
- My cat is licking her rear excessively
Most cat owners let their cat lick their hands or arms from time to time. It is perfectly normal and I would argue that it is 99% safe for the person. If a cat licks a person’s face and there is a scratch on the face where the skin is broken then it is conceivable that bacteria from the cat’s mouth could enter the cat through the break in the skin. This might cause an infection. Or perhaps the cat licks near the person’s eyes so the bacteria can get into the eyes. These are all rare instances but conceivable. Covid-19 presents a special consideration and there is also toxoplasmosis (see discussion below). It’s a question of personal preference whether a cat owner lets their cat lick them on the face with respect to their safety but what about the cat’s safety? The person concerned has to take into consideration their cat’s health and welfare.
What if a person is wearing face makeup or similar products which might conceivably harm a cat if it is licked off by a cat. It’s possible. I don’t know what is in women’s makeup but there might be something in it which is not too healthy for a domestic cat if it is ingested. This must be a factor as to whether you let a cat lick your face. There may be something else on a person’s face which may conceivably be toxic to a domestic cat. There are certainly chemicals such as scents that people can put on their body which can harm cats. You just have to check what you’re putting on yourself and whether it can harm your cat.
So is it safe for your cat to lick your face? If she licks the side of your face away from your mouth and eyes and if you are not wearing any makeup and there is nothing else on your face which might harm your cat, and if the skin is not broken on the side of your face then it is safe! But read below. The bottom line, right now, is probably that you should avoid it.
There is, sadly, another issue to briefly mention which is Covid-19. We know this is transmitted in aerosols from body fluids in the mouth and nose. The experts aren’t sure whether domestic cats can transmit the disease to humans but we do know that cats can get the disease. It is conceivable that a cat could transmit Covid-19 to their owner if they licked her on the face. She could wipe her face with her hand where it had been licked and then put her hand on her lips. She could then lick her lips and ingest the virus that was in their cat’s saliva. I’m probably being far-fetched and going too far but this is a discussion, no more. I’m not a scientist.
Some time ago I was asked whether it is safe for a person to kiss their cat. This is something similar to what I have discussed above. There is a remote possibility that you could get toxoplasmosis from your cat if you kissed him or her.
It’s easy to find a compromise. If your cat likes to lick your face, you can place your hand in that area so that your cat can lick your hand instead. Your cat simply wants to groom you. It is called allogrooming and it’s an act of friendship but I would suggest that your cat is not selected your face specifically to lick it. He will be perfectly happy to lick your hand instead so encourage him to do that. Of course your hand should be clean and free of pathogens and other harmful substances.
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