Last Updated on: July 20, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Most of us love licks from our cats, but it might not be as welcome when it comes to our feet—toes can be particularly ticklish. But what exactly prompts this behavior? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t a simple one. Your cat might be licking your feet because they taste good, or it feels a little anxious.
Maybe you have a feline in your life that likes to lick your feet, and you’re curious, or you want to stop the funny behavior. Below, we’ll discuss why cats lick their owners’ feet and how to stop it.
Top 6 Reasons Cats Lick Your Feet:
1. It’s Bath Time
You may be familiar with allogrooming, which is social grooming between members of the same species. Cats will groom other cats; while you’re not exactly a cat, you are family. So, it’s not uncommon for your cat to groom you. They will also groom a kitten to teach them how to do it. So, your cat might think it’s doing you a favor!
2. Your Cat Wants Some Attention
When cats relax on the floor near their owners’ feet, some lick their pet parents’ feet to get their attention. Maybe they want to play or are hungry. If the licking stops when you give them your attention, chances are that was what the licking was for.
3. They’re Gathering Information
Cats use their sense of taste and smell to gather information. Your cat can’t ask you about your day, but they can certainly get the answers from your feet, which will be saturated with aromas. Licking your feet after you’ve run around outdoors could be your cat’s way of examining where you’ve traveled. It’s completely normal, and the cat is only getting to know you a little better.
4. It’s How They Know It’s You
The sense of smell is incredibly important in the cat world, and as we’ve mentioned, your feet carry a lot of information on them. There are around 250,000 sweat glands on your feet, so when your cat gets a whiff of your foot, it will know immediately that it’s you. This might make your pet want to lick and cuddle these wonderfully familiar feet because they’re so happy you’re home.
5. Your Cat Is Marking Its Territory
Feet are perfect for marking because they’re low to the ground and tell every other feline that you belong to your cat. If you notice your cat nuzzling you or bumping you with its head, it is also a way to mark you. This behavior is called bunting, and it’s a sign of affection that also places their scent on you. It’s very common in houses with more than one pet, where jealousy can arise.
6. Your Feet Taste Delicious
Your cat might think you taste yummy. Cats will lick a scent they find interesting; your feet might taste salty and smell strong after a workout, but a thorough shower will likely end the licking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does It Sometimes Hurt When Your Cat Licks You?
It can be a little painful when your cat licks you, especially if it’s excessive and in one spot. You might have noticed that your cat’s licks feel like sandpaper, thanks to “papillae,” which are back-facing barbs on their tongues.
These barbs are actually made of the same material as their claws, and they’re perfectly designed to remove debris and dirt from your cat’s coat when it grooms.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Licking Your Feet
If you’d like to stop the foot licking, there are a few things you can try without making your cat feel unappreciated or unwanted. You could remove the temptation entirely by wearing socks or slippers in the house. Distraction is always a good tactic, and if your cat enjoys playtime, pulling out the catnip mouse or teaser can draw its attention away from your feet.
Why Does Your Cat Attack Your Feet?
Sometimes licking can precede a bite, and you might wonder why. If licking hasn’t worked in getting your attention, your cat might turn to more violent ways of getting you to notice them.
Also, feet are the perfect prey and the most accessible appendages for a feline to access. If you’re tapping your foot while listening to a song or working on the computer, the motion may be too tempting for your feline to ignore.
Feet licking might seem strange to a human, but it’s normal for a cat. The reasons behind the licking vary, but generally, your cat is trying to get your attention by using the closest body part. So, the next time you see your cat’s attention turn to your dancing feet, meet them halfway if you don’t like those sandpaper licks!
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Featured Image Credit: Beatriz Vera, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!