Tip 56 – Cat grooms owner – cat licking
Cats spend a large part of their day grooming themselves. They do it primarily by licking themselves clean. It is an important and necessary part of their daily routine. Cats don’t need to learn how to groom themselves it is an instinctive behaviour that they spend 10% of their waking hours engaging in. Cats groom themselves to keep clean and to remove any dirt, parasites, or animal remains that dirty their fur after hunting. Any cat that suddenly stops grooming should see a vet ASAP.
Sometimes though, cats seem to groom humans. They lick their owner’s skin with a ticklish intensity that may make us squirm. It often occurs when we are lying down or resting. What is happening, does the cat feel or sense that we the owners are dirty and in need of a good cleaning? Actually this type of behaviour has nothing to do with grooming. It is comforting behaviour that is usually found in cats that were separated from their mothers before 12 weeks. This behavior is linked with the cat kneading its paws (paw pressing) on its owner. This is the same behaviour it used to exhibit when it used to suckle at its mother’s teats.
In general and to avoid other possible socialization problems a kitten should remain with its mother and littermates until at least 12 weeks of age. Any breeder willing to sell a kitten before that age is probably not a reputable one.