Why Does My Cat Lick My Hand ?- Explaining Common Cat Behaviors

A lot of you wonder why does my cat lick my hand and tend to understand affection as the prime reason behind it as the “Catlores” had it. However, there are many other great possibilities that you must know to understand your cat better and be able to decode their actions simply. We are going to help you with all of that as we explain the psychology behind a cat licking a hand.


The pleasant and unpleasant feeling of getting licked by your cat

why does my cat lick my hand

There are many ways in which cats express their affection and licking is one major way out of all of them. A lot of people feel extremely happy when their cats lick them and even tend to brag about it in front of their friends or neighbors to showcase the happy relation they share with the pet. To a similar effect, they wouldn’t ever want their cats to stop licking them and might as well encourage such actions by pleasing them even more.

However, there are quite a lot of people who like the licking in the beginning but this feeling may wear out soon when the cats tend to overdo it. There are many other explanations that we can give if you too don’t like the licking habit of your cat but don’t know why it feels unpleasant.

The first reason behind this is precisely the roughness that you may feel from the tongue of the cat. This rough feeling owes to the pointed barb-like backward-bending structures called Papillae that exist on the surface of the cat’s tongue. The Papillae have the same texture as that of the cat’s claws and their primary role is to help the self-grooming action of the cats by picking off the dirt as the tongue glides on the coat.

You may also dislike your cat licking hand because of hygiene reasons. You may have to go and wash your hands every time they lick them to be able to do other things. This can get annoying once your cat starts licking too much.

Possible reasons behind your cat licking your hand

The saddest part of the entire process of understanding cat behavior is that we don’t have any cat vocabulary and all we can rely upon are calculated guesses. Thus, with the estimation power we have, let’s move on to explore some possibilities why cats lick our hands.

Bonding through grooming

Cats have the natural tendency of grooming other cats as a gesture of initiating social bonding that also includes exchanging scents. With the same intention and habit, your cat may lick your hand too to bond with you by taking in your scent and applying theirs on you.

Mark you as theirs

Cats are very strict about marking their possessions via scent marking and their tongue plays an instrumental role for this purpose. You may have a cat that is very possessive about and it will mark you as their possession by licking you on the same spot repeatedly. They also check this way if you have been licked by any other cat.

Expressing feeling of belongings

If your cat is licking you good, then it is a sign that it considers you like family and feels safe when you are around. This is a very positive sign and a big compliment to your way of handling the pets. Cats take it long to get accustomed to someone’s presence and when they start licking you; it’s a victory for you.

Kittenhood memories

The instincts of the cats driven from their kittenhood may also be the reason if you wonder why does my cat lick my hand. The mother cats give tongue baths to their kittens for cleaning them and that nurturing tendency re-surfaces in the kittens when they mature.

Past trauma

Some cats might have suffered early weaning or even gotten orphaned that led to their oral needs remain insufficiently met. Since such cats tend to forget what suckling is, they adopt licking as a way to satisfy their nursing needs.

Petting you

Just like the many ways you pet your cat, it may also be trying to return the favor by petting you a bit and licking can be an easy method to do so. It is another way they are expressing their affection towards you.

Licking due to anxiety

It isn’t always for a positive reason that your cat licks your hand but it can have certain serious and concerning meanings too. Licking hands can become a compulsive behavior of your cat if they are going through anxiety, stress, or depression. Check for the same if they are licking on unwanted objects too.

Possible reasons behind your cat biting and licking at the same time

why does my cat lick my hand

A lot of you may also want to know why do cats bite then lick you because that’s another thing a lot of cats do to their owners. There can be many ways to understand this cat behavior and here are some of the common reason we think apply to this situation:

You got a love bite!

When gets feel a little too much love for their owner, they tend to give a little nip on the hand along with licking. This is like a way your cat goes on to bond with other cats and end up doing the same with you too.

You might be getting intensely groomed!

Cats groom each other that also includes them having to pull a little bite or scratch sometimes to clean some stubborn dirt. With the same tendency, they might bite you a little too and then lick.

Your cat may get overstimulated!

Overstimulation is a common cat behavioral tendency in which they get sudden action fits. Due to this reason, your cat may give you a small bite if you happen to be around when they are overstimulated.

Your cat wants attention!

Cats are big-time attention seekers and they might even bit you for that. This is true and if you have been ignoring their attention pleas for very long, then the chances for this increase.

Your cat wants to play!

Some cats tend to do random things when they are in a mood for play and they might even bite you slightly on the hand to request you to get up and play with them.

Tips on dealing with the cats licking your hands

Licking by your cat can have both positive and negative meanings but there is no way you can promote them to lick excessively. Here is how to deal with a cat licking hand:

  • You can try distracting the cat by gauging for the signs that it is approaching you for doing that. Use toys, catnip, or any treat for the purpose and throw it in opposite direction.
  • You must also have some interactive play sessions with your cat regularly to keep them de-stressed.
  • You may also try giving massages to your cat when they start licking excessively to deter them or just try asking them to give the lickings at some other body part.
  • Food is something that can easily distract anybody and you can use the same trick with your cat too. Give them treats when they come to lick you. Just make sure that you don’t overdo that.
  • A gentle NO may also help when you see the cat being assertive or biting with licking.
  • Remember to never punish or abuse your cat for deterring it from licking. This will only have negative repercussions instead of Mannering them.


These were the best answers we had to help you understand why does my cat lick my hand or why do cats bite then lick you. Cat behavior is not something that can be understood in one go and you need to observe your cat patiently every day to understand why they do what they do.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.