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Why Do Cats Lick You When You Scratch Their Back?

Why Do Cats Lick You When You Scratch Their Back?

Everyone loves to keep a pet in their home. Some people prefer cats whereas others prefer dogs. However, cat owners often express curious behaviors that their pets show. Cat owners often notice that their cat licks them when they scratch their back. If you’re one of these individuals, you might ask why cats lick you when you scratch their backs. There could be various reasons for that.

The most common reason is that cats express it as a sign of feeling secure and peaceful. You may also notice that they snuggle or lick your hands when they feel loved and secure too. These behaviors are signs that they feel comfortable around you. However, in rare cases, your cat might be licking you because it doesn’t like scratching. Let’s get into more details here.

Why Do Cats Lick When You Scratch Their Back? 

Cats are peaceful and loveable animals. They love being petted gently by the humans around them. They often react in different ways whenever you pet them. Usually, they start licking. But this licking could have different reasons, and pet parents get confused most of the time. Worry no more; here are some reasons to help you get away from this confusion.

  • Your Cat Wants More Petting

Most of the time, cats lick you when you scratch their back. They often do it as a gesture to show that they want more petting from you. You might have noticed that your cat gives you head bumps and even try to bop you with a paw. This signifies that your cat feels comfortable and doesn’t want you to stop scratching its back. Moreover, some cats go a little crazy due to the excitement. Well, it’s normal behavior for the cats. It’s how they express themselves.

Cat standing on tomatoes
  • A Way of Showing Gratitude

The way your cat licks when you scratch him could also be a sign of gratitude. Your cat tries to tell you how grateful he is to have you around him. He tries to give you back the same love and affection you give him. 

  • Cats Exhibit Mutual Grooming Behavior

Cats have a natural behavior of grooming each other. It’s a common behavior among cats. You may have seen that cats who are friends often lick each other’s fur. They play and rest with each other as well. So, they associate your petting with getting groomed by another cat. This is why they either lick themselves or the air.

  • Cats Love Fussing

Cats have a natural behavior of licking their fur and even their owner. They also lick you or bump you gently to show their love. Cats love physical contact with you, whether it’s with their head, chin, back, or even the base of the tail.

Some cats even enjoy being petted on their head. They ask for more when you stop petting them. However, this behavior is not typical in all cats. Some of them love to stay in their space without being interrupted by anyone.

Fluffy three-colored cat
  • Licking as a Sign of Respect

Pets often do different things to show off respect to their owners. Cats do it most gently and cutely. You might have noticed that cats lick their kittens to show their love. They do the same thing with their owners. Your cat licks you when you scratch their back. This can also be a sign to show off their respect for you.

  • Your Cat Thinks You Are Yummy

You might find this reason a bit weird, but it’s different for cats. Sometimes, cats lick your skin when you pet them. This could be because of some sauce left on your hand or something else from your kitchen. This could sometimes happen due to the salty sweating on your arms.

Whether it’s some sauce or your sweat, ultimately, it’s the way your cat shows that you are conveniently accessible to them, and it’s comfortable.

  • Your Cat Is Asking You to Stop Petting

It’s not always that your cat likes your scratching its back. Sometimes, cats ask you to stop petting them most gently. They either meow or licks your hand. However, some cats get incredibly uncomfortable with a human touch and start biting.

This is not always the case. Some cats don’t like petting some specific areas, such as their tail and head. Petting your cat in these areas can trigger them, and they might scratch you with their paws or even bite you. Therefore, you should avoid rubbing such regions.

  • Your Cat Might Have an Itch 

Cats continuously groom themselves. You may have seen that they always lick their fur and keep it clean. But, they can’t reach some areas of their body, such as the back and bottom of the tail.

Whenever a cat gets an itch, it scratches itself either with the help of its paw or tongue. Cats often lick your hand as a ‘thank you’ gesture when you rub them in areas they can’t reach. If your cat licks you or meows at you, it’s probably trying to show you the love in return for your help.

  • Cat Has a Skin Problem 

Your cat might have a skin issue or have itchy skin. There is also a possibility that they have fleas or mites. So, whenever you pet him, he might feel uncomfortable due to itchy skin. Be careful if your cat has such an issue, as your cat might bite you due to extremely uncomfortable conditions.

It would help if you took him to the vet before it worsens. The doctors may recommend some medicine to help your cat get rid of such a condition.

Itchy skin can result from various factors, including parasites, infections, and allergies. Vet doctors often take samples to examine for any illness. They may ask to try a 3- to 4-week antibiotic course.

  • Excessive Licking Is a Sign of Emotional Issue

Just like us humans, animals also suffer through emotional issues. Mental health issues are studied in cats too. Sometimes, excessive licking of cats is referred to as an emotional issue, including frustration and less social interaction either with humans or other cats. 

Any excessive licking directed towards you, any other person, or even any random object at home can signify such an issue. Observing this behavior in your cat should prompt a trip to the veterinarian. The doctors will do all the necessary tests to check for any issues. Upon finding any emotional issues, they might recommend you a professional doctor for animal behavior.

Small cute kitten

What to Do if Your Cat Licks Himself When You Pet Him?

Cats licking themselves when petted by a human often signifies a skin disease. A skin problem may be causing your cat to lick himself when you rub him in a particular area. In such a case, visiting a vet is necessary. The doctors will examine your cat to make further confirmations.

Sometimes you may notice that the cat only licks you when you pet a specific area. This usually happens when he can’t groom himself in that area. So, consider grooming him regularly within that particular area. This would build a great bond between you and your cat. It’s best to leave your cat alone if it reacts to your touch. Be careful with such behavior of cats as it could bite you or even scrape you.

How to Keep Your Cat’s Fur Clean & Shiny?

Constant self-licking will give a healthy cat a softer, shinier, and cleaner fur coat. Proper nutrition and grooming are the best ways to keep your cat healthy. Nutrition usually depends on the cat food that you are using. Always look for the best cat food that is available in the market. Never compromise on the health of your pet.

Here are some tips to keep your cat’s fur clean and shiny:

  • Brush his fur regularly. Also, don’t forget the grooming cat’s fur, which may include trimming his hair.
  • Bath your cat regularly. Using high-quality shampoo will give the best results for a healthier and shinier fur coat.
  • Take care of your cat’s diet. Several cat food brands in the market offer high-quality grade food for better and healthier fur for your cat.


So, now we know why cats lick you when you scratch their back. We covered all the possible reasons, including that sometimes cats feel comfortable due to your scratch. However, they also feel uncomfortable when going through a skin infection or emotional issues.

We also discussed what you should do in such conditions. When your cat licks due to your petting, then most probably it’s feeling comfortable and secure. Licking is the gesture your cat uses to thank you. However, this is not always the same case. Sometimes it is the gesture in which your cat gently asks you to stop petting.