Why Does My Cat Like Licking My Armpits?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

So you were laying down on your bed with your arms up.

And your cat came and started licking your armpits.

Your pet does it every time she gets the chance.

But why does it likes to lick your stinky, sweaty armpits?

The simplest answer is that your cat is grooming you. This means that your cat is comfortable with you. Your cat is grooming you the way she would groom kittens by cleaning the smelly bits. Cats also like it because your sweat tastes like salt and cats like that taste.

But are there any health risks? Are there any other reasons for your cat to lick your armpits? Read on below to know more about this strange behavior.

Armpits and Cats

Here are all the possible reasons for your cat to lick your armpits:

1. Sweat

When humans sweat, they release a fair amount of salt. And for some reason, cats like the taste of that salt.

The sweat of our armpit is full of fats and proteins which cats like. Cats like the smell of your sweat because of these fats and proteins. I know this is kind of disgusting, but that’s how it is with cats.

Joan Morris, the pets and wildlife columnist for “Bay Area News Group” wrote:

“If a cat is licking under your arm, it could be seeking the salt that exudes from our bodies in the form of sweat”, and, “Cats can have a strong desire for salt.”

2. Scent

This might be hard for you to hear but your cat might not like the smell of your armpits. So she is trying to cover your scent with hers.

Don’t worry though, the reason is not necessarily that you smell bad, as your cat might just be applying their scent to you. This is because, from an early age of about 5 to 6 months, cats like to mark their territory.

3. Grooming

A recent study shows that cats consider their owners as other cats. So they are grooming us like their own by licking the armpits.

This means that the cat is relaxed and comfortable around you. And it considers you as a companion.

Here is a video to help you understand grooming:

4. Remembrance

If the cat in question is a kitten or was taken away from her mother too early, then your pet might be just nursing under your armpits. This makes it remember its mother, and how it used to feel cosy under her as cats often carry on many behaviours from their kittenhood into their adulthood.

Your armpits probably smell and feel similar to your pet. And it gives them a feeling of safety and comfort. This might be just a way of cuddling for your cat.

So are there any health risks? Do your armpits smell that bad to make your pet sick?

Keep reading!

Health Risks

Firstly, take a sigh of relief. Because your armpits do not smell too bad for your cat to cause it to become sick. It just likes to do so because of all the reasons described above.

But there might be a problem if you have applied deodorant.

Deodorants have got some toxic substances which might result in health issues for your pet. It might cause itching. So keep your cat away from you if you have applied too much deodorant.

As for your cat liking the taste of salt, that salt is not bad for your pet to lick. It’s normal for cats to crave the taste of salt.

And do not worry as it necessarily does not mean that your cat is mineral deficient.

How to Stop Your Cat from Licking Your Armpits

Even though there’s nothing wrong about it, this behaviour is no doubt, kind of creepy. Your cat would seem like it’s badly groomed if a guest or friend sees it licking your armpits.

And if you take your cat away from your armpits but it still insists, then there are some ways to stop this insisting.

Whenever you feel like your cat is coming closer to your armpits to lick them, or has already started licking the armpit, then consider doing the following:

  • Stop your pet from licking your armpits before it starts doing so. This way, it will know that you do not like it to do this and so it will get used to not doing it again and again.
  • Start playing with your pet whenever you feel like it’s going to lick your armpits.
  • You can distract your pet by a toy for things that your pet likes. This will work when your pet is already licking your armpits. Distraction is the best way to stop your cat from doing this.
  • Applying a deodorant that has got a citrus-like smell might discourage your cat to stop licking your armpits, as cats dislike the taste or smell of citrus.

Why Does Your Cat Likes to Lick Other Parts like Nose

If your cat licks you in places other than just your armpits, then there might be some reasons for it to do so.

1. Licking Your Nose

Again, licking of nostrils is kind of the same as the licking of armpits because cats lick both these places as they crave salt.

And yes, your nose has also got some salty particles, just like your armpits.

2. Strengthen Bond

Cats can lick you just to be friendly. This behavior helps the bond to grow stronger. It’s the way of strengthening the bond and showing affection in the same way in which you display towards your pet by petting.

3. Leaving Scent

Cats lick you to leave their scent. They especially do this after you take a bath.

Cats depend on their nose and mark you as your own by leaving scent. This scent is important for your cat to identify you.

4. Habit From Kittenhood

Cats may lick you and purr close to your skin. This is because the cat has the habit that it carried to its adulthood, which is nursing with its mother when it was a kitten.

This is also an identification that your cat feels safe and secure around you.

5. Anxiety

Your pet might lick you to comfort itself from anxiety. Cats can also experience stress. And licking you might relieve it from the stress a bit.

And especially if you see the posture as a bit tense and the licking continues for an extended period, then it means that your cat is in an attempt to self-soothe.

But cats can overstress too. If you see the following signs in your cat, then consider talking to a vet:

  • Areas of thinning hair.
  • Bald spots.
  • Dullness.

Watch the following video to understand the reasons for your cat to lick you:

Related Questions

Why does my cat always lick my toes?

Some cats tend to lick when they rub on you. So it may be just that they are rubbing on your feet because your feet are easily accessible. Some cats are attracted to shoes; it may be they are particularly attracted to your feet as a result.

Why does my cat lick my sweaty clothes?

There are a lot of salts in sweat, which cats may crave if their diet is wrong or your area is very hot. There could be something interesting in the deodorant or antiperspirant you wear.

Why does my cat bite me and lick me afterwards?

This just means that your cat is showing you affection. If your cat bites then licks you, this could simply be part of the grooming habit it has developed, and the equivalent of simply licking you to get you clean. Cats do sometimes gently bite to show affection as a love bite of sorts.

Why does my cat lick my hair?

A lot of cats lick their owner’s hair. This strange behavior to humans can be easily explained: Cats groom the head area of their “preferred peers”. Grooming is hence simply a sign of affection.

Conclusion

Cats are just innocent pets and they have their own ways to show their love for you. If you do not like this habit of your cat to lick your armpits, then you may stop it.

But I think that letting your pet show you some love is nothing but fair. And it’s not like your cat’s going to tell everyone about how bad you smell! So might as well just let them be.

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