Does Petting a Kitten & They Lick You Mean They Like You?

"Please don't stop scratching my head."
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Your furry companion adores you so much she licks your hand when you pet her. She's just giving you a kiss and returning the favor for scratching her itch. Cats don't lick just anyone -- they're rather finicky about who they bond with. You should feel honored that she chooses to bathe you.


You've surely noticed that Callie is an immaculate cleaner. She prefers everything be neat and organized, personally paws away spilled litter from in front of her litter box and spends hours a day grooming herself. Since you're a part of her world, she wants you to be just as clean as she is. After all, she just invested a lot of time getting her coat smooth and shiny. She doesn't want you getting her all dirty with your unwashed hand. Callie's cleaning you off so you can continue to rub her, without making her dirty.

Sharing Scent

Part of the reason Callie nestles up next to your hand and licks you is to share her scent. You've been gone at the office all day and even though she recognizes you, you still smell different to her. By licking you she's putting her scent all over you so you seem familiar to her, notes the Animal Planet website. Once she's got you coated with her own signature essence, she'll feel at ease knowing that you're hers and no other feline can claim you.

Sign of Love

Your kitten will bond with you, especially if you have a single-cat household. She'll recognize you as part of her immediate family and she'll treat you as such. When she snuggles up next to you and licks you during a petting session, she's showing you how much she adores you. Since she can't tell you verbally how much she loves and appreciates you, licking you lets you know that you are part of her very intimate little circle. While she's bathing you she'll most likely purr loudly, arch her back and head butt your hand. These little signals let you know that you make her happy.

Other Considerations

Sometimes kittens lick excessively if they are taken away from their mother and littermates too soon. She's continuing her suckling and licking habits because it was soothing to her when she was with her fuzzy family members. Now that she's independent she'll continue to lick, nuzzle and nibble your skin to comfort herself. It's not a harmful or dangerous habit, it's just a little quirk that might stick with her throughout her entire life.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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