Do Cats Lick You When Nervous?

Do you ever feel like your cat is trying to give you a bath with their incessant licking? While it may seem like a sweet gesture, it could actually be a sign of nervousness or stress. As a cat parent, it’s important to understand how our feline friends communicate their emotions and what their body language can reveal.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the topic of whether cats lick you when they’re nervous and explore the reasons behind this behavior. We’ll take a closer look at the different types of licking behaviors cats exhibit and decode what they may signify. From there, we’ll explore the various reasons why cats may feel anxious or stressed, such as changes in their environment or routine, medical issues, or social group dynamics.

But don’t worry – we won’t leave you hanging. We’ll also provide tips on how to help soothe your cat when they’re feeling nervous. These include creating a safe and comfortable space for them, offering positive reinforcement, and potentially seeking professional help from a veterinarian or behaviorist.

By the end of this post, you’ll have gained valuable insights into why cats lick when they’re nervous and how you can best support your furry friend during times of stress. So buckle up for an exciting journey into the fascinating world of feline behavior.

What Is Licking?

It’s a way for them to keep their coat healthy and shiny, but it can also be an indicator of nervousness or anxiety.

When cats are feeling stressed or anxious, they will often resort to licking as a means of self-soothing. This behavior can lead to excessive or compulsive licking, which can sometimes cause harm to themselves or their surroundings. It’s crucial to understand the context of the licking behavior to determine if it’s normal or a sign of stress.

If your cat is licking you excessively or more than usual, it could be a sign that they are feeling anxious. To identify if your cat is using licking as a self-soothing mechanism, observe their body language. If they are tense, with their ears flat against their head and tail twitching, they may be feeling stressed.

To help your cat relax and feel safe in their environment, provide them with the care and support they need. Gently pet them or create a safe and quiet space for them to retreat to. If you notice your cat excessively licking themselves or you, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Why Do Cats Lick?

Cats are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors that never fail to amaze us. One such behavior is their love for licking. But why do cats lick? Let’s dive into the reasons behind this intriguing behavior.

Firstly, cats lick as a way of showing affection. When your cat licks you, it’s not just showing its love but also expressing gratitude for taking care of them. It’s their way of bonding and communicating with their human companions. So the next time your feline friend licks you, take it as a sign of appreciation.

Secondly, social grooming is another reason why cats lick. Cats are incredibly social animals, and grooming is a way to bond and strengthen their social ties. When they groom each other, they spread their scent through pheromones, marking each other as part of their social group. It’s a form of communication that helps them identify who belongs in their circle.

Thirdly, did you know that cats lick themselves to regulate their body temperature? Licking helps evaporate saliva from their fur, which cools down their body temperature. So during hot weather, don’t be surprised if you see your furry friend licking itself more often.

Lastly, excessive licking can be a sign of stress or anxiety in cats. When they feel nervous or anxious, they may start licking themselves excessively as a way to self-soothe. If this behavior persists, it can lead to bald spots on their fur or skin irritation, which could harm them. As responsible pet owners, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your cat’s licking habits and recognize when it’s time to seek professional help.

Signs That Your Cat Is Nervous

Your cat may not be able to communicate their feelings through words, but they do have a language of their own. Here are some common signs that your cat is feeling nervous:

Hiding – If you notice your cat has retreated to a secluded spot, such as under the bed or in a closet, it’s likely that they are feeling uneasy and anxious. Cats often seek safety in confined spaces when they feel vulnerable.

Aggression – When cats feel threatened or uncomfortable, they may lash out with hissing, scratching, or biting. It’s important to respect your cat’s boundaries and give them space when they display aggressive behavior.

Pacing – If your cat is pacing back and forth restlessly, it’s a clear sign that they are feeling anxious and stressed. This behavior is especially common in cats that are confined to small spaces.

Excessive grooming – While grooming is a natural behavior for cats, excessive grooming can be a sign of stress or anxiety. If you notice your cat grooming themselves more than usual, they may be trying to soothe themselves.

Loss of appetite – If your cat stops eating or drinking water, it could be a sign that they are feeling anxious or stressed. It’s important to monitor your cat’s eating habits and seek veterinary attention if necessary.

Licking – Some cats may start licking their owners when they are feeling nervous as a way to self-soothe and calm themselves down. While this behavior may seem affectionate, it’s essential to recognize that your cat needs space and time to relax on their own terms.

How to Help a Nervous Cat

But with the right techniques and plenty of patience, you can help your feline friend feel more comfortable and less anxious. Here are five subtopics to guide you in helping your nervous cat:

Create a Safe Haven

Cats need a safe space to feel secure, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed. To provide your nervous cat with a sense of security, set up a cozy bed, crate, or even just a favorite blanket or toy. By giving them a secure area to retreat to, you can help them feel more at ease.

Stick to a Routine

Cats thrive on routine and predictability. Establishing a regular feeding time, playtime, and cuddle time can help your cat feel more settled in their environment. This consistency can make them feel more secure and less anxious.

Use Pheromones

Pheromones are naturally occurring chemicals that cats use to communicate with each other. Synthetic versions of these pheromones can be used in diffusers or sprays to create a calming atmosphere for your cat. These pheromones mimic the natural pheromones that cats release when they feel safe and secure, which can help reduce anxiety.

Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation

Interactive toys, scratching posts, and regular playtime can provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation for your nervous cat. A tired cat is often a less anxious cat because they’ve burned off excess energy and are more likely to relax and rest. Engaging in activities with your cat can also strengthen the bond between you two.

Be Patient

Patience is key when it comes to helping a nervous cat. Avoid scolding or punishing them for their anxious behavior as this can only make their anxiety worse. Instead, offer plenty of positive reinforcement and comfort when they display calm behavior. This could include gentle petting or treats. With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, your nervous cat can learn to feel more relaxed and comfortable in their environment.

Excessive Licking and Health Concerns

Excessive licking can be a sign of nervousness or anxiety, which, if left unchecked, can lead to serious health concerns.

One of these potential health concerns is hairballs. When cats groom themselves excessively, they ingest a lot of hair, which can accumulate in their digestive system and form hairballs. These hairballs can cause blockages and other digestive issues that are no fun for anyone.

Excessive licking can also lead to skin irritation, even open wounds on the cat’s skin that can become infected and lead to further health complications. Plus, your poor cat is probably feeling pretty uncomfortable.

Sometimes, excessive licking may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as allergies or skin infections. Consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any potential health concerns is essential if you notice your cat excessively licking itself.

So what can you do if you notice your cat is excessively licking? First, try to identify the source of their stress or anxiety and create a safe space for them to retreat to. Establishing a routine for them and providing mental and physical stimulation through playtime and interactive toys can also help.

Using pheromones to calm them down is another option, and above all else, be patient and offer positive reinforcement so that they can learn to feel more relaxed in their environment.


In conclusion, cats are truly fascinating creatures with a wide range of behaviors and quirks that can both delight and concern their owners. One such behavior that has been the subject of much curiosity is excessive licking. While it may seem like an affectionate gesture, it could actually be a sign of nervousness or anxiety in cats.

As responsible cat parents, it’s important to understand how our feline friends communicate their emotions and what their body language can reveal. Excessive licking can be a clear indication that your cat is feeling stressed or uncomfortable in their environment.

While cats lick for various reasons, such as social grooming or regulating body temperature, it’s crucial to recognize when the behavior becomes excessive and potentially harmful. Left unchecked, excessive licking can lead to serious health concerns for your cat and damage to their surroundings.

To help soothe your furry friend when they’re feeling anxious or nervous, there are several things you can do. Creating a safe and comfortable space for them, establishing a routine, providing mental and physical stimulation through playtime and interactive toys, using calming pheromones if necessary – these are all effective ways to help ease your cat’s stress.

Remember that understanding your cat’s behavior is key to building a strong bond with them and ensuring their overall well-being. By recognizing the signs of nervousness in your cat and taking steps to address them, you’ll be able to create a happier and healthier environment for both you and your feline companion.