Why Do Cats Groom Humans?

Have you ever seen a cat grooming a human? We know that cats are instinctively well groomed and like to keep themselves clean, but why would they care about grooming their human? Well, there are a couple of reasons, and according to Marilyn Krieger, certified cat behavior consultant in San Francisco, one of the reasons is purely out of affection. A cat that grooms you is said to have a lot of love and admiration for you and you should receive the notion as a compliment.

Here is where this behavior stems from: In the wild, cats will groom friends and family. This is how they leave their scent on them and then they will be able recognize them as it marks them as part of their tribe. This is a similar notion; your cat is telling you that you are a part of his tribe and marking you as such. Essentially, he is saying, you are family.

A cat has different areas of their body in which a scent can come from. Yes, licking you and grooming you with their tongue is one way to get their scent on you, but other areas they release their scent from is their paws, when they stroke you with a paw, or even when they butt heads with you. They are depositing their scent or smell on you whenever they touch you in a loving fashion.

Do all cats groom their owners?

The answer is no. Not all cats have the desire to lick. They just aren’t big lickers but it does not mean that they don’t love you or have affection for you. Like most things in life with people or animals, some do and some don’t with anything. It’s a matter of preference. One thing you don’t want to do is let your cat chew on your hair. This is one thing some cats might like to do, however, it is dangerous and they could ingest the hair.

Aside love and affection, why else do cats groom humans? The other answer is pretty straight forward. You are probably wearing something, perfume, lotion, or have food crumbs or food scents on you that is enticing to them and they want to taste it.

No matter what the reason is for that moment that your cat is grooming you, you may think it is really cute, while other cat owners may not be too keen with their cat licking them or trying to lick their clothing. And some people just find a cat’s tongue a little uncomfortable for human grooming. But if you do happen to enjoy your cat bonding with you in this way, then by all means, let him groom you when he feels necessary. He may just want to really make sure you know you are his by covering you with his saliva and scent.


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