Who could not resist the charms of their pet cats? Once they put their paws on our laps or even snuggle against us, our hearts will always swell a bit due to the fuzzy feelings they give us. Of course, we will hug them back and also let them kiss us. But should you let your cat lick your face?
There is still a divide when it comes to letting your cat lick your face. Scientists have found that there are dangers and benefits of doing so. But, to get the benefits, your cat needs to meet certain conditions. So to be on the safe side, it is best to prevent your cat from licking your face.
This might be bad news for those who love to let their cats lick their faces. You do not have anything to worry about because we are going to discuss the pros and cons of letting your cat lick your face. At the same time, we will talk about why your cat does that in the first place.
Is it to give you some much deserved loving? Are they planning to eat you someday? Kidding aside, keep on reading to know more about this licking behavior.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Face?
You should be happy when your cat licks you because it means that they trust you and feel safe with you. The same thing goes when they groom their fellow cats as it is a sign of social bonding and respect.
For your cat, you are a true member of the family and she is reinforcing this idea by cleaning you, just like how her mother cleaned her when she was a kitten. Sweet stuff, right?
On the other hand, your cat may also be licking your face as a sign of anxiety. One possible condition is feline hyperesthesia, this is when they compulsively lick you and their bodies in order to comfort themselves.
However bad that may sound, they are still licking you since they are seeking some sort of relief from the stress that they are feeling.
Should I Let My Cat Lick My Face: The Benefits And Dangers
Let us now take a look at the pros and cons of letting your cat lick your face. For those who love to let their buddies give them kisses, this is where you can find hope!
Advantages of Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face
1. Wound Protection
There are researchers in the Netherlands that were successful in identifying the chemical that is present in cat saliva which is called histatins. In turn, this chemical helps speed up the healing of wounds. This is done by promoting the migration and the spread of new skin cells.
Therefore, if you have a wound on your face, besides putting medical creams on it, your cat's saliva will help your wound to heal. This chemical is also responsible for healing your cat's wounds and pretty much explains why they lick their own wounds.
Also, a doctor from the London School of Medicine, Dr. Nigel Benjamin, found out that once your cat's saliva comes into contact with your skin, it produces nitric oxide.
This helps in containing bacterial growth and also acts as a barrier to the wound, which will lessen the chances of infections.
More than that, the researchers from the University of Florida where able to isolate a protein from cat saliva and it is called “Nerve Growth Factor.” This protein is responsible for at least halving the time it takes for wounds to heal.
2. Building Trust
As mentioned earlier, your cat licks you because he trusts you. Therefore, if you let him lick your face, it is a sign that you are honored for him to groom you. In turn, he will also feel that you trust him.
This is special for those new cat owners who gets licked by their cats for the first time. This means that he or she is slowly opening up to you. Rejecting their act of affection via licking your face, might make them that you do not like them.
Disadvantages Of Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face
1. Health Risks
Surely, there are a number of parasites and bacteria that live in your cat's saliva. Obviously, when they lick your face, those will be transferred to you.
There are bacteria called “Pasteurella” which is housed in the mouth of your cat and this can cause lymph nodes and sometimes severe infections. Another one is “bartonella henselae” that causes cat scratch fever and can also affect humans.
These bacteria may cause infections to your face. However, no infections from these bacteria that are of the deadly kind have been reported. However, bacteria like “campylobacter,” “clostridia,” “E. coli,” and “salmonella” can cause serious intestinal diseases in humans.
There are also cats that have single-celled parasites or parasitic worms. When passed on to humans via licking, this can cause skin problems, blindness, brain disorders, and intestinal disease.
Even if you have the most conscientious cat when it comes to cleaning herself, you are not 100% sure what her tongue and mouth came into contact with. She might have licked her anus before licking your face, which makes the transfer of feces to your face possible.
At the same time, when your cat goes outdoors, she might have eaten foreign things that also contain harmful substances. This may lead you to develop fungal infections on your face.
Safeguards When It Comes To Letting Your Cat Lick Your Face
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of letting your cat lick your face, the decision is ultimately yours. If you plan to let your cat lick your face, here are some things you can do in order to make sure that you and your cat go about it safely.
- Always wash your face with an antibacterial wash or soap after your cat licks your face. You can also use facial wipes that are anti-bacterial.
- Make sure that you are following the schedule of your cat's deworming programs.
- Undergo annual fecal examinations and use anti-parasite treatments
- Be on top of treating their ticks and fleas
- Make sure that you properly dispose of their poop
- Always clean the paws and mouth of your cat immediately after they go outside
- Feed a proper diet which is a mix of cooked, canned or dry food
How Do I Prevent My Cat From Licking My Face?
You do not want to outright reject your cat when he wants to lick your face. Doing so will make him feel inadequate and he will not understand your reasons for doing so.
Therefore, you can follow these tips if you still want to establish a strong bond with your cat, but also preventing him from licking your face.
Distract Your Cat
Paying attention to the movement of your cat is key here. If your cat is beside you while you are watching a movie, make sure that you also get to keep an eye on him when he springs into action to go lick your face.
It is handy to have his favorite toy near you so that when he goes to lick your face, you can distract him by dangling the toy near his face. If he is not a fan of toys and still wants to lick your face, you can distract him with your hands.
You can playfully wave your hands in front of his face and he will think that you want to play with him, instead of preventing him from licking you. Further, you can distract him by going in for s snuggle before letting him reach your face.
Positive Reinforcement Training
This solution will be great in the long run as your cat will know that licking your face is a big no-no. This will make him understand that you are not letting him lick your face not because you do want to bond with him.
Further, you also do not have to worry about your cat surprising you with a lick.
What you can do is to establish that the “getting near your face” is a no-go zone. When your cat lies peacefully beside you without going near your face, always reward him with a treat or an affectionate pet or hug. He will eventually understand that he should not go near your face.
Why does it hurt when my cat licks me? Your cat's tongue feels rough because it is covered in papillae which is the same material that is present in their claws. This helps them take off meat from bones and also helps in grooming themselves to remove dirt and fur.
Can I lick my cat? No, you should never lick your cat. They will feel confused if you do this as your saliva has proteins and chemicals which are different from their saliva. Also, they will not appreciate it as you will mess up their fur.