Why Your Cat Cleans Herself On You

Your cat may love to clean! Cats have an instinctual need to groom themselves and often do so over anything else around them that carries their scent (such as scratching posts).

This includes you if your cat views you as part of “her” territory.

Cats often use humans as a grooming post because they are warm and soft. They also do this when about to be fed or when she wants attention from you.

While our cats typically head down the hallway to groom themselves after a meal, they can often head off to find us before sitting on our laps to clean before wanting some attention.

Read on to discover what makes her clean herself on you and what to do if she won’t stop.

Additionally, we will discuss some behavioral concerns of your cat that you should look for and how to help your cat when you recognize them.

What Makes Your Cat Clean Herself On You

Cats may clean themselves on you because of anything from changes in their surroundings to issues with anxiety.

It is important to look closely at some of the behaviors your cat is exhibiting and figure out what is making them groom themselves excessively.

Cats Clean Themselves Because Of Environmental Changes Or Insecurities

If your cat rubs up against you, then she may want attention or something from the environment around her, such as food or toys.

She may be telling you that some changes in her environment make her uncomfortable, but with time, your cat will get used to any changes.

If your cat cleans you while brushing against you, then she’s probably doing so for one of two reasons: either she wants attention from you, or she needs something such as food or litter box access. Your cat may be trying to tell you that she needs something from you, most commonly access to a clean litter box.

In many cases, if your cat washes on top of places where her scent is strong (near the litter box), then it may also mean that she feels insecure near her litter box and needs a security blanket.

Cats Clean Themselves For General Cleanliness Or Protection

When cats clean themselves by licking parts of their body with their rough tongue, they’re taking care of their fur and skin.

Your cat could be cleaning herself to stay clean, and it may be a coincidence that she is on you.

Cats groom themselves in order to calm down when they get stressed or anxious, but also because it helps them stay clean and healthy.

Cats who feel threatened may also wash themselves in order to mask their scent, so they’re less likely to be attacked by other animals or people. If there is a new pet in the home or a new person in the environment, this may be the reason for excessive cleaning.

Cat’s Can Clean Themselves Because They Sense Your Smell

Cats have evolved over many years to be very sensitive animals who are able to detect even subtle human scents. Sensing your smell or an unfamiliar smell on you may be the reason that your cat is cleaning itself on you.

Some cat owners might not even see their cats grooming themselves regularly, but when cats groom themselves they release a pleasant scent.

The act of licking and cleaning is something that some mammals do to stay clean and maintain their scent.

Cat’s Clean Themselves On You For Comfort

Cat’s will often clean themselves on you for bonding or comfort.

If your cat is particularly clingy, this could be her way of clinging to you while keeping herself clean. If your cat becomes clingy, there are many reasons that may be and ways to remedy that behavior.

Cats are complex animals with very sensitive needs who often try to satisfy them through licks on humans’ faces or hands. If this or other clingy behavior doesn’t bother you, then there may be no reason to try to stop it, as long as your cat is healthy and happy.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Cleans Herself On You?

It’s unnecessary for every cat owner, but some people find it comforting to pet their cats after being groomed. This can be affiliated with food-giving and can encourage the behavior.

If you are uncomfortable with your cat’s licking behavior, be mindful not to be alarmed by it and try not to reward it in any way.

If it becomes too much, you should take the cat in for regular veterinary visits, not just because they’re overdue but so your vet can see if there are any other health concerns like skin problems.

That being said, cat owners who have cats with unusual obsessive behaviors should get their cats checked out by a veterinarian as soon as the issue occurs.

What If Your Cat Keeps Licking You After Trying To Correct Behaviors?

It can be hard to know how cat behavior should translate into human actions, but it’s important not to discourage your cat from coming close or licking you by pulling away or swatting the cat with an open hand.

Cats need love and affection just as much (if not more!) than any other pet!

Like humans, they have their personalities that determine what makes them happy; it could be a particular type of food, a specific kind of touch, or lick you all over!

If your cat likes people-licking so much that she insists on doing it constantly, then there may be a medical problem that needs attention.

Behavioral Signs Of Medical Problems

If your cat continues to groom herself on you and you suspect it could be because of a medical problem, keep an eye out for these specific signs that may point to an issue.

  • Excessive grooming
  • Licking and biting themselves, other cat’s or people’s skin
  • Aggressive behaviors towards humans

If you notice any unusual cat behavior on this list, it may be time to call your veterinarian.

The Humane Society website also suggests that if these types of symptoms aren’t severe enough but persistent, you can try some over-the-counter anti-anxiety medication like Clomicalm, Prozac/Zoloft to help with their obsessive-compulsive disorders.

How To Help Your Cat If She’s Grooming Because Of Anxiety

Your cat might be acting aggressively because she has an anxiety problem and is obsessively grooming herself as a result.

You can try over-the-counter antidepressants if your cat starts grooming excessively out of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Your vet will diagnose any issues and prescribe any medication if the problem is serious.

The Humane Society website suggests that you can help your cat by providing her with some appropriate chew toys which will distract them from the urge to groom compulsively. If your cat’s grooming issue is mild, this may be the only necessary change to fix the problem.

Some cat owners find it helpful to use a plug-in scent for their homes, which can help reduce cat anxiety and stress, therefore reducing compulsive grooming. But if all else fails, you may need to consult with your vet about getting prescription medication to help cat anxiety and reduce obsessive grooming.


Cats will often lick or chew on things in the home with a familiar smell, including humans!

Understanding these instincts can help us find ways of bringing our cats indoors more comfortably while still keeping them well-groomed and happy.

It is essential to clean your cat’s litter box regularly because cats are sensitive animals that groom themselves often. Keeping it fresh and smelling nice can help make this chore more pleasant for both of you!

If cats want attention from you but don’t know how to show it, try giving them an ear scratch or another type of touch.