why does my cat clean herself on me

Listen to the audio version of this article If you talk to people who dont like cats or who arent familiar with them, theyll probably be quick to tell you cats dont show affection. They may praise the way
show affection but refer to cats as snobby or aloof. I think a big part of the problem is people are trying to compare dog behavior to cat behavior. It may seem ridiculously obvious to you, but there are so many people out there who still need to be told that cats arent dogs. One species isnt better than the other theyre just different. So it makes sense they would show affection differently as well. Every cat is an individual so there are many ways your particular cat may display affection, but here are just some of the common ways they show their love: This is the name for the displayed when a cat seems to literally butt his head against you. He may come up onto your lap and his head against your chin, nose or forehead. Cats have glands on their face and its a very common social behavior for one cat to bunt the head of another familiar feline buddy. This isnt just a scent exchange behavior but also an affectionate display. Cats also have glands along their cheeks and they may rub against people, another cat friend or even an object. The pheromones (scent chemicals) located along the cheek and on the cat s head are associated with friendliness, affection and familiarity. Cats facially rub on people or objects when they feel comfortable or familiar. Also known as the tread, this behavior consists of the cat flexing and relaxing his front paws against a soft object. It originated when the cat was a kitten and used the milk treading behavior to stimulate the release of milk from the mothers teat during nursing. Many adult cats maintain that behavior when theyre on a soft surface or feeling very content. Purring is complex because it is something cats do when theyre happy, content and relaxed but they also do it when theyre scared, sick or injured. It has been theorized that purring is something cats do when they are very content or as a self-soothing mechanism in a tense environment, as well as an attempt to soothe potential attackers.


Purring is also believed to have healing qualities as the frequency of the purr may help the acceleration of bone mending. If your cat is curled up in your lap and youre stroking him as he purrs, theres an excellent chance hes content and is letting you know by the sound of that beautiful, velvety motor. Cats who have a good relationship may engage in mutual grooming. Its a way they show affection to each other and it also helps create a communal scent. In an environment, this is important since scent plays such a huge role in recognition. Grooming is also a -reliever and displacement behavior so allogrooming may help keep each other calm. When your cat starts grooming you, its often his way of showing affection and mixing his scent with yours. This common affectionate display is one way a cat may convey that he is relaxed and comfortable with you. Many cat parents also return the favor by doing a slow back at the cat. When a cat takes a stretched out position for resting, it shows he feels comfortable with you. When a cat is uncertain, he tends to tuck his limbs under his body and tightly wraps his tail around himself when resting. For a cat to leave his limbs and tail totally exposed means he feels very secure near you. If the cat is not in a confrontation, he may also stretch out so much that hes on his back with his tummy exposed. This is the ultimate in trust and relaxation because he is exposing a very vulnerable body part. Dont confuse this posture with a cat who is exposing his tummy during a battle. In that particular situation, its a defensive position displayed to warn an opponent that should the battle continue, all weapons (teeth and claws) will be used. So when interpreting body postures, you always have to take the immediate into account. A cats can tell so much about what the cat is feeling. A tail held high with a little hook at the end usually means your cat is happy and confident. Many cats will also give the tail tip a little flick as a greeting when they see you.


Your cat may sit on your lap, sit next to you, lay on top of you when youre in bed, or he may just lean his back against your arm as you work on the computer. Just the fact that he wants to be in close physical contact with you is quite the compliment. Cats can carry on all kinds of conversations and there s no such thing as a simple, but many cats issue a special mew or a little when their cat parents enter the room. Today s weird science question comes from Kendraw: My cat is obsessed with licking me. She will tolerate pets, but what she really wants to do when she needs attention is to lick me anywhere she can get skin. She won t lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow, and hand are fair game! She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. And it s not just a few licks; she gets quite thorough about it. I ve tried bitter spray. No luck. I know it s a, but is there any way I can gently get her to stop? Have you, like Kendraw, ever wondered Why does my cat lick me? First, I ll talk about why cats lick you, and then I ll give you some tips on how to persuade your cat that there are much more awesome options than grooming you until your skin is raw. 1. Cats lick as a means of social bonding Kittens groom each other, and older cats who aren t related but get along well also spend time grooming one another. Often they ll get the spots that are hard for a cat to reach by themselves, such as the top of the head and inside the ears. Exchanging scents through grooming also increases the bond between a pair of cats. (One Catster writer documented her attempt at. ) 2. When your cats lick you, they re paying you a huge compliment A tongue bath from your cat is an indication that she feels totally safe in your presence. You are truly a member of her family, and she reinforces that by cleaning you like her mother cleaned her when she was a kitten. 3. Your cats tongues are covered with barbs Your feels like sandpaper because it s covered with papillae backward-facing hooks made of keratin, the same material that makes your kitty s claws.


The papillae help cats rasp meat off bones, and they also assist in grooming by acting like a comb to pull out loose fur and dirt. 4. Your cats might be licking you because of anxiety Some cats get so stressed that they begin licking compulsively. (One mysterious condition is called. ) Cats who lick themselves bald are often trying to comfort themselves because they re stressed. Other compulsive kitties might lick and suck on fabric, or even your skin. 5. To stop your cat from licking you, distract her Learn the signs that your cat is about to start licking. Before she starts washing your arm raw, redirect her attention with a toy. If your cat likes, slip a catnip-filled kicker toy in front of her when she s about to lick you. If she s not a catnip fan, try a treat-dispensing toy instead. 6. De-stress your cats with interactive play. It keeps your cat fit and trim, and it strengthens the bond between you. Not only that, but the chemicals released during exercise help your cat to relax and feel content. Feeling stressed yourself? Try these 7. Be patient when your cats lick you It s not easy to retrain a cat who has gotten used to performing a habitual behavior such as licking. Remember to stay gentle and avoid yelling or intense physical reactions like shoving your cat, tossing her off your lap, or (heaven forbid) hitting her. Tell us: Have you been able to rehabilitate a compulsive licker? Please tell us in the comments how you did it. And, as always, if you have any other weird science questions, ask me by leaving a comment! Thumbnail: Photography Murika Thinkstock. Read more about cats and science on Catster. com: About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

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