Your Maine Coon is licking you, and you are wondering if this is normal behavior in them and what it means?
There's no need to be alarmed; it's perfectly normal for a Maine Coon to lick their humans as a sign of affection and as a way of releasing its tensions.
In fact, with a disposition for licking – a trait that is usually associated with dogs – perhaps it is only apt that Maine Coons are often labeled as the “dogs of the cat world”. To understand why your Maine Coon is generous with their tongue, let us lend a paw and unravel the mystery.
1. It is showing its affection
Maine Coons are friendly felines that love to socialize with people and other creatures. They are rarely aloof and unfriendly unless they were previously immersed in a negative environment.
Even the shy ones tend to reveal their personalities, together with their playful nature and boundless energy, once they start to get comfortable with you.
Chances are, you'd have spent plenty of time interacting with your sweet-natured Maine Coon. As your affection towards your furry friend grows, your Maine Coon would start to develop its fondness of you too. (After all, love goes both ways.)
Typical means in which a cat shows its feelings of devotion towards its favorite humans include rubbing against you, purring, exposing their vulnerable belly and following you around.
As opposed to licking their own fur to groom itself and licking other cats to bond with one another, it's far less common for a cat to lick a human's hair or skin. When your Maine Coon does, however, you get to physically feel just how much it adores you!
If you're wondering why your cat licks you and only you, consider yourself the “chosen one”.
While Maine Coons tend to embrace the whole family, they exhibit stronger affection for the person who cares for them.
Therefore, a Maine Coon might rub itself against the legs of everyone in the family but choose only one particular person to smother with saliva!
To round off this section, it is worth mentioning male Maine Coons are typically more outgoing than female ones. Therefore, if your licker is a male, there are even fewer reasons to be concerned!
2. It is grooming you
Cats that are related or get along well tend to groom each other. There is even a scientific term for this behavior: allogrooming, or social grooming.
This gesture of affection is usually targeted at the head and neck areas, which is where cats typically love to be petted and scratched.
These are also areas that are difficult to clean without a buddy, which somehow makes sense why cats would want a fellow friend to help.
While you might not need help with grooming, your Maine Coon might do it anyway as it considers licking as an activity that enhances bonding.
To put it even more positively, your cat sees you as a close friend or even a family member. It is grooming you – or rather, trying to groom you.
This is very obvious if you are getting tongue caresses on your hair and scalp, but sometimes they could be directed on your skin too. Whether or not you like to be covered in a layer of cat saliva, your Maine Coon certainly has kind intentions.
If that nugget of information isn't cute enough, the licking phenomenon of your feline friends reeks of nurturing or parenting behavior – just as how a mother cat cleans her kittens.
It's even possible that your Maine Coon is trying to teach you how to groom yourself!
3. It is marking its territory
Out in the wild, cats typically lick one another to leave their scent on friends and families. By exchanging licks, cats that are friendly with one another develop a familiar group scent which serves as a means of identification.
As a breed, Maine Coons are known to display dog-like loyalty to their owners.
When you are being drizzled in licks, your Maine Coon is showing its loyalty by drawing its territory and claiming you as an ally or part of its family.
By doing so, your cat will be signaling to other cats that you “belong” to them, so don't be surprised if other cats are more reserved towards you.
4. It is releasing its tensions
While all the aforementioned points lean on a positive note, sometimes this trait is a cause for concern. A Maine Coon might exhibit licking behaviors as a response to stress or anxiety.
The activity of licking releases endorphins, allowing cats to unwind and calm themselves. While it is normal for cats to lick themselves (and you), some go as for as to cause themselves thinning hair and bald patches.
Therefore, while your Main Coon might be licking you for a dose of comfort, you should be on high alert if it is accompanied by a tense posture.
If you suspect that your cat's penchant for licking is caused by stress, try to pinpoint the source and alleviate or eliminate it.
If your Maine Coon lives in a multi-cat household, observe its relationship with other cats to see if there are problems. If it is caused by separation anxiety, ask the missing person to call home on a loudspeaker to talk to your Maine Coon, as silly as that sounds!
You can also inject more playtime or even cuddle time into your cat's daily routine if they enjoy such interactions.
Maine Coons are known to enjoying playing with water, so why not fill up a bathtub? Also, keep in mind that Maine Coons require room for exercise, so you might want to set up cat trees, towers and perches to expand its play area.
If all else fails, approach a veterinarian to seek their advice and possibly obtain anti-anxiety drugs for your cat. The same goes if the licking tendencies appeared suddenly, as it could be a symptom of underlying medical problems such as hyperthyroidism.
5. It is trying to comfort you
Yes, your Maine Coon might lick you to achieve a peaceful state, but don't think these cats are selfish creatures. It's also possible that your furry friend is, in fact, trying to release your tension too! Remember, Maine Coons are extremely intelligent – so much so that these gentle giants can even be trained!
Such smart cats are often attuned to your moods after getting familiar with your personality and your routines.
Some Maine Coons would greet their owners enthusiastically at the door when they come home. It's not a stretch to believe that these sensitive cats are aware when you're sick or anxious, and then try to help by licking you.
After all, if licking comforts them, it should comfort you too, right?
Some Maine Coons even do that on purpose if they feel that their human does not feel well. This shows how incredibly intelligent Maine Coons are. Read this article to learn more about their intelligence.
6. It was weaned too early
The final reason why your Maine Coon might be licking you is that it was weaned prematurely before eight weeks of age. Along with excessive suckling on blankets and pillows, this is one of the responses that prematurely weaned cats exhibit, even later in adulthood.
If your Maine Coon is still a kitten in need of milk, ensure that it gets some from a nursing cat or a replacement formula until they are ready to be introduced to kitten food.
Do not attempt to wean a kitten too early as it would put the feline at a higher risk of illnesses and stunted growth. If your Maine Coon is already an adult, well, its infantile licking behavior is a habit you can attempt to change.
How do I stop my Maine Coon from licking me?
Perhaps you want your cat to stop licking you because you are grossed out by your Maine Coon's overt (and overly wet) display of love. Or perhaps the barbs on your cat's tongue hurt your skin. Either way, there are several ways you can try to stop it.
Observe your cat so that you can detect in advance when it is about to lick you. Just as its posture hints the start of a bout of licking, distract it with an interactive toy.
A play session will boost a cat's confidence and is a fantastic alternative to a licking session. (Tip: A Maine Coon enjoys playing fetch with small balls or toys.) Alternatively, wedge an acceptable item for it to lick between you and your Maine Coon.
You can also discourage the feline by giving it a harmless spritz of water or by putting it in another room to show that you do not want to be licked. Being the smart creatures they are, your Maine Coon will eventually get the hint!
What's most important for you is to be patient and not frighten your cat by yelling or pushing it away. You will need to keep the special bond intact in order to formulate a healthy solution to the licking problem. All the best!