Has your cat ever licked your nose while you were cuddling? Do they also perhaps slightly nibble your nose and then lick it?
In cat world, licking each other is a sign of affection. Mother cats groom their kittens from the day they are born, teaching them how to groom themselves. This action also helps strengthen the bond between cats.
If your cat licks your nose, it simply means you are now their family, and they are demonstrating their affection. While the sandpaper-like texture of their tongue might feel a bit strange, it certainly isn’t completely unpleasant.
Here is the cat logic behind nose licking:
They Are Bonding With You
Licking is a way for cats to bond. Mothers and kittens do it, siblings do it, adopted brothers and sisters do it. Not only does licking provide that feeling of closeness, it’s also a cat’s way to transfer some of their smell onto each other. This marks them as friends. When a cat licks your nose, it’s trying to bond with you.
They Are Expressing Love
Mothers show love to their kittens by licking and grooming them. From an early age, a cat learns that licking equals affection, so they will lick those they love. You naturally fall into this category, and should feel proud that your cat is bonding with you so well.
If you have a kitten who often licks your nose, they are probably trying to connect with you as they did with their mother. If they have recently been weaned (or weaned a bit too early), they may be trying to nurse.
They Are Showing Affection
Cats will also randomly lick your nose just to show you they care. We hug and kiss each other, while cats show emotion via their tongues. A casual nose lick just means they like you and appreciate you.
Note that cats won’t lick the noses of anyone they don’t genuinely like, so you may consider yourself marked as a quality human. Make sure you show some affection to them, and stroke their back or head to reciprocate the emotion.
They Are Stroking You Back
If your cat starts licking your nose while you are stroking them, they are simply stroking you back.
Two cats that live together, whether they share the same parents or not, will often lick and groom each other as a form of bonding. As a human, you express the same feelings by cuddling. Your cat will cuddle back with their tongue, and assume you feel just like they do when someone licks them.
They Are Marking You As Their Territory
Since licking also transfers scent, cats will use it to mark their territories.
Mother cats do it to their kittens, signaling that these little furballs belong to them. Kittens and adult cats will lick you for the same reason. This is especially true if there are other animals in the house, or if you routinely come home smelling of other cats. Your pet will mark you as their own as their way of telling everyone else you are spoken for.
You Have Become Their Family
Being licked on the nose by a cat signals that you have now become a part of their family. You can give yourself a little congratulatory pat on the back. Your cat has indeed chosen you.
They Are Cleaning You
The main purpose of licking in cat world is cleaning. Cats have special tongues that help them get rid of dirt and debris, and will often spend a large portion of their day grooming themselves (or others).
Imagine how strange we must seem to cats. We never lick ourselves, merely stand under running water in the hope we will come out clean. Our cats will thus consider it their job to clean us. Nose licking is just part of it. You may also get finger licks (especially if you have food smell on them), cheek licks, and licks to any part of the body your cat happens to be sleeping or cuddling on.
Not that this means you are actually unclean. Just that you are not clean enough by your cat’s standards.
They Like The Salty Taste
Human noses are naturally sweaty. They probably also smell like all kinds of things we can’t detect, but which will be quite obvious to our cats. This is why they may choose to give us random nose licks: to enjoy the taste and smell we are giving off.
If you’ve recently been cooking or eating, chances are some of this scent is stuck to your nose, so your cat will naturally take the opportunity to sample said meal and test your culinary prowess.
They Want Your Attention
If you are snuggling with your cat but keep looking at the TV or getting distracted by your phone, your cat will lick your nose to get your attention. After all, you should be petting them, not using your fingers to keep fiddling with a screen.
You Are The Leader of the Pack (Sort Of)
Cats are not pack animals like dogs, but they do observe a certain societal hierarchy. By licking your nose, your cat may be telling you that they respect you and consider you to be at the top of said ladder. This can happen more often in households with more than one pet.
They Are Anxious or Stressed
Grooming calms cats down. When they are feeling anxious, they may start to compulsively lick themselves, to the extent of creating bald patches.
Similarly, they may start licking your nose when they are feeling stressed or in pain. It’s their way of letting you know they are upset and are trying to calm down, but also to get your attention and receive some calming cuddles.
You will notice other signs your pet is stressed. Their appetite will change, they will become restless and start vocalizing more often, they will become more jumpy. A calm, serene nose lick does not immediately warrant concern. In fact, it is very rarely a sign of stress. Unless there have been any major changes in your life and habits that could have caused an onset of anxiety, your cat is just being affectionate.
They Are Sensing Your Emotions
A cat’s sense of smell is incredibly powerful. They use it to learn a lot about their environment, and can detect the slightest changes that are completely imperceptible to us. For example, cats can tell you are sick simply by the changes in your scent.
When a cat licks your nose, they may be trying to determine how you are feeling. If you are upset and have been crying, cats will tell you are sad by the saltiness of your tears. If you are unwell, they will know. If you are moody, they will know. And they will adapt their behavior to suit your mood and make you feel better.
They Need to Calm (You) Down
If your cat is looking to chill out and calm down, they will find something to groom. It might as well be you.
They will also lick your nose in an effort to calm you down. If they sense you are upset, they may start grooming you to remind you to take a deep breath and let you know they are here to help.
They Want You Awake
If you happen to be sleeping when your cat wants something from you, they will often lick your nose to wake you up. They may also just be checking that you are breathing and feeling fine.
Why Does My Cat Lick And Nibble My Nose?
Cats will lick and nibble your nose to show affection. They may also be cleaning it and getting a little bit too vigorous.
Cats often gently nibble each other while grooming. They will do the same to you, without even considering how it feels and if you find it strange. It’s just what cats do.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Nose In The Morning?
Cats will lick your nose in the morning when they want you to wake up and feed them. They will also do it to get a taste of your early-morning nose.
Some cats are quite crafty and will come up with very creative ways to wake you up. Licking your nose is probably among the most pleasant ones. If you oversleep and they firmly believe it is time to give them breakfast, they will let you know.
Your nose will also taste and smell differently in the morning than it does in the afternoon, so your cat may just be doing a taste-test and checking that you are okay and still in good working order.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Nose When I Sleep?
Cats will lick your nose while you are sleeping either to check if you are still alive, or to wake you up. They may also just be showing you some affection.
Apparently, cats don’t actually know whether we are alive when we are sleeping, and will sometimes have to check. The simplest way to do so is to give us a lick. If we stir, all is fine.
They may of course just be giving you some sleepy love, or looking to wake you up and get you to feed or cuddle them.
Should I Let My Cat Lick My Nose?
You should definitely let your cat lick your nose. It’s a great way to deepen your bond and make them feel a part of the family (and you a part of theirs).
Consider it a sign of affection and love. It may feel a bit weird, with their sandpaper tongue, but you’ll quickly get used to it. Plus, your nose will be extra clean.
If you prevent your cat from licking your nose, or if you keep pushing them away, they will think you don’t like them and they may start to become less and less affectionate. Instead, let them cuddle however they like to, and enjoy it.
Wrapping It Up
When a cat licks your nose, they are just showing you how much they care about you. While it may feel strange and their rough tongue may be slightly awkward on your skin, you’ll soon get used to it and start to enjoy the affection.