What’s Behind Sandpaper Kisses?

You have seen me talk about giving my human sandpaper kisses.  Now, some of you may say it is because he is a sweet human to take care of a diabetic cat like me.  But remember, diabetic cats need to avoid sugar, so that’s not the reason.

A Cat Like Bagheera the Diabetic Cat Loving His HumanThere is something behind cats licking humans, though.  It is a sign that we like the human we are licking and that we feel very comfortable around them.

So what’s behind these sandpaper kisses?  Well, a nice article in Catster lays it out.  There are seven things that you humans with cats should know:

  • Licking by cats is a method of social bonding.  Kittens like to lick each other, and adult cats who are not related but like each other groom each other as well.  Jacey and I like each other, so we lick each other.  She helps me groom the places I can’t reach, and I do the same for her.  You humans are not the only creatures that like to reciprocate.
  • When we lick a human, it means we feel completely safe around them.  Consider it a huge compliment!Bagheera the Diabetic Cat's Tongue Looks Just Like This
  • Wonder why our tongues feel like sandpaper?  It’s because we have barbs that are made out of the same material as our claws.  We use these to groom ourselves, and when we do it for you, we do it to help you stay clean.
  • If you don’t like being licked, distract us.  My human doesn’t mind the sandpaper kisses.  But he is much more tolerant of my behavior than many humans are of their feline’s behavior.  If being licked bothers you, use a toy to distract us.
  • Use interactive play to keep us from wanting to lick you in the first place.  If you play with us, it will strengthen our bond.  Then we won’t feel compelled to lick you to bond with you.
  • Be patient with us if you want us to stop licking you.  Just like anything else, we cats need time to adapt.  When I was first diagnosed as a diabetic cat, I would try to get away from my human when it was time for my blood test.  Now I don’t fuss too much.  The same thing goes for stopping us from licking you.
  • Sometimes licking indicates anxiety.  If we lick ourselves to the point where we start to remove our fur, or lick you to the point where we rub your skin raw, we may be stressed.  Find out why

But the most important thing for you humans to remember is that we will only lick you if we like you.  In fact, even when I was struggling to avoid blood tests as a newly diagnosed diabetic cat, I would lick my human afterwards to show him there were no hard feelings.

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4 Replies to “What’s Behind Sandpaper Kisses?”

  1. Three of my four girls are very “kissy” cats. At 12 years old, Shady still likes to try to nurse on me. Sophie will show affection when she feels like it. Rizzo loves to give kisses to me, and will even give me mouth kisses if I’m not watching out!
    My boys will lick each other from time to time, and Cosmo and his sister Lucy will wash each other. But no interspecies kisses from my boys.

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