Why does my Maine Coon lick me? … If this question has been preying on your mind and you’re worried something might be wrong with your feline friend, rest assured that in almost all cases licking is completely normal. In general Maine Coon licking is considered to be a sign of affection and love, however, there are a few other factors to watch out for that might help explain this cat-like behaviour.
Whilst the majority of Maine Coons lick their owners as a sign of affection and love, others may lick because they are stressed. Licking helps calm cats, by reducing their anxiety and tension. Maine Coons weaned too early will also lick their owners fingers. Excessive Maine Coon grooming is a sign your cat is distressed.
If you notice your Maine Coon licking your hands, arms or legs more often than normal, check the table below to determine the root cause.
10 Reasons Why Your Maine Coon Licks You
Maine Coon cats lick their owners for a variety of reasons. Whilst the usual interpretation of this behaviour is considered to be down to a Maine Coon being affectionate towards their owner, there are a few other reasons that may account for this common cat behaviour.
The table below highlights the top ten reasons why Maine Coons lick their owners:
|Affection||Maine Coons are very affectionate towards their owners|
|Preening||Cats like to groom their owners|
|Enjoyment||Some cats love the sensation of licking|
|Attention||Trying to get your attention|
|Marking Territory||Cats often scent their owners, marking their owner as their territory|
|Taste||Many cats like to taste the food residue left on your hands, and even enjoy licking it away!|
|Dominance||Licking can be a sign of dominance|
|Stress Relief||Grooming an owner can de-stress a cat. A cat might also be trying to calm and de-stress their owner|
|Socialisation / Bonding||Licking is a technique Maine Coon cats use to bond with their owners|
|Weaned Too Early||If a kitten has been weaned too early, it may lick or suckle on an owners fingers|
Why Does My Maine Coon Lick Me?
As you have seen, there’s more to Maine Coon licking than most owners might initially assume. Whilst most licking is considered positive, owners still need to watch out for signals that their cat is not happy, as their Maine Coons licks might no longer be a sign of affection and love, but instead indicate feelings of stress and anxiety.
1. Sign Of Affection
The most commonly accepted reason explaining why Maine Coons lick their owners, is because these large cats are being affectionate. Therefore, if you find your Maine Coon licking your hands or arms, do not push them away in the hope they will stop. Instead, embrace your large cats love for you, since licking is their way of communicating their deep levels of affection.
Maine Coon cats love to lick and groom their owners whilst they are being stroked, since they regard grooming as a two way process. Although you might not appreciate the sensation of their rough ‘sandpaper-like’ tongue on sensitive areas of your skin (for instance the inner side of your wrists), your Maine Coon is not intentionally trying to harm or hurt you. Instead, they are outwardly showing their love for you in this very intimate behaviour. They do not understand that the papillae on their tongues, (which is formed by backward facing hooks of keratin) can actually be discomforting on human skin.
The Maine Coon cat breed are well known for being affectionate. Whilst they may show signs of affection towards all family members though, they tend to reserve licking for the individuals that they share the closest bonds with. This is usually their primary carer i.e. the owner that feeds and brushes them. If your Maine Coon licks your hand therefore, this is a clear indication of the strong bond held between owner and cat.
If you own a male Maine Coon, they are likely to show more affection towards you, than their female counterparts. This is simply because the male of the species has a more outgoing affectionate personality, whereas the female tends to be more reserved, independent and ‘cat-like’ in their nature.
2. Is Your Maine Coon Preening You?
Maine Coons are extremely clean felines that invest copious amounts of time self-grooming. Their instinct to clean themselves is rooted not only in their desire to be clean, but also the result of their mother having repeatedly licked them clean from birth, until three weeks old. It is believed that mother cats regularly clean their kittens, to reinforce their family and social bonds (source). A Maine Coon will therefore instinctively lick their owner, since licking is a behavioural trait learnt whilst they were kittens, and reinforces their bond with their owner.
If your Maine Coon considers you part of their family, they will be keen to bond with you by keeping your body as clean as theirs. Therefore, do not be surprised when your beloved Maine Coon starts preening you. Licking in this scenario is basically your cat maintaining your hygiene levels (try not to be insulted by this!). This is an instinctive trait that all cats have, which also arises from allooming, whereby cats regularly groom the other members of their ‘pack’ or ‘family’.
If you have ever watched your cat preening themselves, you will have likely noticed that they always start by cleaning their faces first, before moving onto their legs, body and tail. This behaviour is no different for a Maine Coon licking their owner, so don’t be shocked when your cat always tries to begin the grooming process by licking your face first.
3. Maine Coons Enjoy Licking!
Whilst every cat is different, with their own unique personality and behavioural traits, it’s not uncommon to find a Maine Coon that is obsessed with licking their owners hands. Although the majority of owners automatically put this form of cat behaviour down to their Maine Coon being overly affectionate, the more simplistic reason that is often overlooked is simply that your Maine Coon just enjoys licking your hands.
Licking is thought to release tensions within a cat, therefore it is not surprising that your feline friend likes to groom you as often as you permit. It is literally beneficial for them!
4. Your Maine Coon Is After Some Attention
The Maine Coon cat breed might have a reputation for being clever felines, however, this intelligence does not stretch to being able to talk (in a human language, anyhow!). Therefore, one of the common ways a Maine Coon will try to gain their owners undivided attention, is by licking them.
Licking in this scenario is basically your Maine Coons way of asking their human to spend time with them. Therefore, if you have a spare five minutes, why not give your Maine Coon a big cuddle, stroke, and lots of affection. These sociable gentle giants will really appreciate being the focus of your attention.
5. Your Cat Is Marking Their Territory
Cats are very territorial creatures, and the Maine Coon is no different in this respect. Therefore, if your Maine Coon starts rubbing themselves up against your legs repeatedly, like they are likely scenting you with their pheromones. Licking your body is also a sign that the Maine Coon is marking their territory, and when I say ‘territory’, I literally do mean YOU!
The premise of this theory is that Maine Coons saliva and scent glands are full of pheromones, that can be transferred from their bodies onto their owners via licking. Cats that lick their owners are therefore affectionately marking the individual with their scent, so that other cats know the individual is theirs. Other cats are able to smell these pheromone markers, and can immediately identify which individuals are ‘owned’ by other cats, and which aren’t.
6. You Taste So Good!
If you don’t wash your hands after eating, then you might find that your Maine Coon enjoys licking your hands because you taste good! This is because food residues remain on your hands, and your Maine Coon likes tasting the flavor. Owners that do not enjoy being licked, should ensure they wash their hands thoroughly after eating.
Alternatively, you might just be the proud owner of a quirky Maine Coon cat that enjoys tasting the varying lotions, or soap that you put on your hands.
7. Is Your Maine Coon Exerting Dominance?
The Maine Coon cat is lovingly referred to as the ‘dog of the cat world’ since they display behavioural traits more commonly associated with dogs e.g. they happily follow you around your home. Dogs have a ‘pack mentality’ whereby one dog is always regarded as the leader a.k.a. the alpha dog. This dog is considered dominant by all other members of a family, though many believe this pack leader is subject to change depending upon the situation.
Despite being a completely different species, the Maine Coon cat breed is thought to follow this ‘pack mentality’ too. Therefore if your Maine Coon starts licking you it might be an indication that your cat deems you to be the leader of the family pack.
Alternatively, other cat specialists claim that a Maine Coon licking their owner is a way of the cat trying to exert their dominance over their owners. This theory is based upon cat allogrooming, which is clearly visible when multiple cats live within the same household. In allogrooming, the dominant cat is thought to lick the less dominant cats within a home, as a way of exerting their dominance over them.
8. A Method Of Destressing
When a Maine Coon cat starts licking their owner, it might be because they are feeling anxious, tense, or stressed. Licking is considered to be beneficial for your cat since it releases endorphins within their bodies that are effective at calming their anxiety and stress.
Too much licking, leading to thinning, or even bald patches of fur on their bodies, however, should not be ignored, since these are clear signs that your cat is unhappy. In scenarios such as this, pay particular attention to a cats surroundings, considering if there have been any recent changes within your home that might be caused your cat to feel stressed i.e. a house move.
Other factors that cause a Maine Coon to lick their owner due to stress:
- Strained relationship between multiple cats living within same household.
- New pet introduced into household
- Dietary changes
- Separation anxiety due to lack of human attention
On the flip side, a Maine Coon might not be licking their owner for their own personal benefit at all. Instead, the Maine Coon might be adorning you with affectionate licks since they sense a negative change in your mood. The act of licking could therefore be your cats way of trying to calm and destress you! Your highly intelligent feline might also have sensed that you feel unwell, and is therefore trying to comfort you.
9. Is Your Maine Coon Being Sociable?
Maine Coon cats are considered to be extremely sociable felines, particularly the males. They love spending time with their human family, and cannot help but be affectionate towards their key owners, through the practise of licking.
Therefore, if your Maine Coon is licking you it is worth considering whether they are doing this to be friendly, and sociable. Alternatively, they might be licking an owner to reaffirm their special bond with you.
10. Was Your Maine Coon Weaned Too Early?
If you have considered all of the reasons listed above, but are still wondering why does my Maine Coon lick me, another possibility to consider is that cat was weaned too early. This is easily identified in Maine Coons that like to suckle on blankets, or their owners fingers.
Premature weaning in Maine Coon kittens is unadvisable, and is thought to stunt the growth rate of this particular cat breed. Breeders should therefore ensure that Maine Coon kittens up to 8 weeks old only drink milk from their mother, or an alternative nursing cat. It is imperative that Maine Coon kittens are never be weaned onto kitten food too early, since early weaning is thought to negatively affect a kittens health. Click here to review my article on the ‘Top 7 Maine Coon health issues‘.
How To Stop Cat Licking You
Not everyone is a huge fan of being licked by their cats, whether the cat is trying to be loving or not. Cats might be known for their super clean tendencies, however, it’s when you have wet cat salvia on your skin, it’s not exactly pleasant. Instead, it’s more likely that you feel compelled to clean the saliva off you, no matter how many good bacteria are meant to be in it!
Alternatively, you might actually love your Maine Coon licking you, but, you are unfortunately allergic to the cat saliva. Too much licking can therefore cause a reaction in your skin that you wish to avoid, since it leaves your skin itchy, and red.
If this sounds familiar, try one of the following methods to stop your Maine Coon licking you as much:
- Carefully remove your hand if they start to lick you, and offer your Maine Coon one of these cat toys to play with.
- Calmly say ‘no’, whilst removing your hand at the same time.
- If you have a close bond with your pet, you will quickly learn to spot times when you Maine Coon is about to start licking you. Be prepared to distract your cats attention, with their favourite choice.
Never spray your cat with water if they start licking you, as this might damage the relationship between you and your cat. They also will not understand that you do not enjoy being licked by a simple squirt of water in the face. Would you?! .. Even a small squirt of water in your cats face will likely stress your gentle Maine Coon, and they will become anxious and stressed when cuddling you.
I hope my article on ‘Why does my Maine Coon lick me?’ has answered your question, or at least helped my readers to adequately determine the possible causes of Maine Coon licking.
Owners should expect to be licked repeatedly if they spend large amounts of time with their cat, or give their Maine Coon plenty of cuddles. Whilst you may not wish to be groomed in return, grooming is a sign that you are part of your Maine Coons family. They are simply trying to keep you clean, and show their love for you.
In general, a Maine Coon licking their owner is usually a positive experience. However, if there has been a lot of changes within your household setup, never assume the Maine Coon licks are purely related to affection. Instead, consider carefully whether your treasured feline companion might be exhibiting signs of stress or anxiety. If they are, you owe it to your Maine Coon to work hard to remove the offending issues, where possible.
Why Does My Cat Lick My Hair After I Just Showered?
Maine Coons are known for loving all forms of water, therefore, if your cat tries to lick your wet hair after you exit the shower, they might simply be playing. Alternatively, they might just be trying to groom you as a sign of affection and love. Click here to read more about the Maine Coon cats obsession with water.
Why Does Maine Coon Lick My Face Whilst I Am Sleeping
This is most likely to be because your Maine Coon is grooming their ‘pack’ or ‘family’. Alternatively, if it is nearing the time that you usually feed your cat, they might trying to get your attention as they wish to be fed!