“Why does my cat lick my feet? Doesn’t the smell bother her? Why does she, even though she always runs away, keep coming back and biting my toes?”
It’s an unpleasant experience. You don’t want anyone, not even your cat, to know if your feet are smelly. If your cat keeps licking and biting your feet and toes, it just feels weird.
Those little teeth come very close to breaking skin, and you genuinely don’t want to deal with that.
So, why, in the name of all that is fluffy, does your cat do this? Is there anything you can do to stop your cat from this bizarre conduct?
In this article, we’ll give you some insights. As a cat parent, you find their weird little behaviors a complete mystery. You love that little furball, but this behavior getting on your nerves.
To relieve some of the worry and unease your feelings because of this, you should find out what’s going on. So, take my paw! Let’s go!
7 reasons why cats lick their human’s feet
1. They’re marking their territory
When my cat did this for the first time, I totally freaked out. Why would anyone lick my feet, for crying out loud?!
No matter how hard I tried to hide them away, she always found ways to get to my feet. Nora (my cat) didn’t even stop at socks – she would simply continue licking through them. Which was an awful experience in itself.
What I found out first was this is one of the ways cats mark their territory. Cats are masters at marking what’s theirs with their scent. They’ll either rub their face against you or continue to lick you until you share the same scent.
In my case, my cat licked my feet as a mere need to mark everything she deemed her property. She was doing her best to put her scent on me to let everyone and every cat know I was already taken.
2. They’re being playful
Let me guess, you tend to wiggle your feet a lot and that’s mostly when your cat jumps to bite and lick them? Well, that’s at least how Nora started doing that to me.
Your feet move a lot, and your cat could see that as prey. She sees something wiggling and assumes it’ll run away if not caught. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll bite and scratch you – simply catching your feet is usually enough for her.
Once you feel the prickly tongue of your cat on your toes, your initial reaction is to jump or to move your feet quickly. That’s what’s even more inviting to your cat. She’ll try to catch his prey once more.
I’m not saying you should let your cat continue, I’m just offering an explanation for this odd behavior.
3. They’re stressed
“Why does my cat lick my feet? Is that even normal?!”
Well, it’s definitely strange to us, but it’s not uncommon to them. Many cats develop licking habits from a young age to deal with stress and anxiety.
Yes, cats can have anxiety, too. It can be just as scary and severe as with humans. Anxious cats will search for some sort of comfort and try to regain control over their bodies.
Most of the time, cats will groom themselves, licking their fur and biting their skin in order to regain that control again. However, it’s quite possible that your cat will start licking you to calm itself.
Your smell is giving your cat a sense of stability and safety. As you can imagine, most of our scent is stored in our feet. That’s why they go for the feet first and then look for your chest to feel your heartbeat to calm themselves down.
Has anything happened that may have created a stressful situation for your cat? Have you introduced another cat in the family? Did you have many guests over? Or maybe even a dog?
All of those things can cause your kitty to feel stressed and anxious. Licking your feet may be uncomfortable for you, but it gives your cat a lot of comfort.
4. They’re being affectionate
You’re probably screaming at this point, “Why is my cat licking my feet when there are other ways to be affectionate?!”
Yes, there are other ways for humans to be affectionate. Nonetheless, this is a cat we’re talking about.
Their main way of showing affection is by grooming each other. They can even show this tenderness to humans and other pets. And even to their toys!
It’s their little and cute way of showing familiarity and affection. It just so happens that your feet were around at the time. Otherwise, they’d probably be licking your hand instead.
When you stand in one spot for a long time, you know that your cat will circle you and rub their entire body against you. That’s when they may even start licking you.
It can become rather playful because they’ll think that you’re playing with them when you move your feet around. But initially, it was a sign of genuine love.
5. It’s a grooming thing
There’s a good chance that your kitty is cleaning you up.
We all know cats are extremely clean creatures. They love to take care of their own fur as well as their surroundings. If you see your cat licking your feet, they’re probably just trying to clean you up.
This is especially true if you were just somewhere out, or you’re walking barefoot around the apartment. Your cat can smell the dirt and sweat, which will make it the perfect target for their grooming tendencies.
Your cat doesn’t know that you prefer other methods of cleaning that definitely don’t include an animal’s tongue. So, they simply go for it.
6. You have an interesting smell and taste
“Gross! Why does my cat have to lick my feet? Aren’t they too smelly?!”
Well, your cat probably loves that. If you’ve been sweating a bit, the sodium in the sweat could be interesting to your cat. Even though cats can’t really taste the difference between sweet and salty, they can still sense when something is different.
The smell itself could be inviting to your cat. While it can be bothersome and bizarre to you at times, anything that’s different and unusual sparks their interest.
This doesn’t even have to be the smell of feet and sweat. It could be the scent of your shower gel that attracts your cat to lick your feet with vigor.
7. They want to get your attention
Have you been preoccupied with something that requires most of your attention? Well, that may be exactly why your cat is resorting to such odd behavior.
I eventually realized that whenever my cat would lick my feet, I wasn’t taking enough notice of her. Nora licks my feet, bites my toes, and even scratches me as if to say, “Hey, my turn!”
She just wants to play and have my undivided attention. And when I’m unable to give her that, she just jumps on me or bites me harder.
She’s not trying to be mean, it’s just her way of saying that she wants to play for a while.
Your cat also knows this is the quickest way to grab your attention. And to be honest, that’s still better than having your cat jump on the counter and destroy everything just to have a moment of eye contact with you.
Can you discourage your cat from licking your feet?
“Why does my cat lick my feet?! It’s stressing me out! I want to make it stop!”
You’re going through the same as so many other cat owners in this world. It’s simply not comfortable.
Especially, if your cat gets aggressive at times, it can be so painful that you become wary of your fluffy friend. No one wants to feel like they have to watch their every step so that their cat doesn’t attack their feet.
You can definitely discourage your cat from doing this with a few simple tricks. Hey, I’m not guaranteeing that they’ll work – you know as well as I do that cats are the oddest of the lot!
One thing you can try is to wear socks more often. It may not work, but it will lessen the initial reaction you’ll have.
Other than that, I can recommend rubbing essential oils on your feet. You can even put some lotion on. This is good for treatment, as well as keeping your cat away from your feet.
Try out essential oils that have a citrus scent or even lavender oil. Because these scents are unpleasant to cats, you’ll be freed from the discomfort.