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Why Does My Cat Lick My Armpit? 4 Possible Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

man holding cat

Cats are known for leading the charge of curiosity with their mouths. Much like toddlers, they’ll put almost anything in their mouth at least once. You may find your cat snuggled up into your armpit sometimes. Your cat may even outright lick your armpit. The short answer for why they do that is because they simply like to do it! But there’s a scientific basis for why they like it so much!

Here’s what science has to say.

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The 4 Reasons Your Cat Likes to Lick Your Armpit

1. Nutrition

As strange as it sounds, your armpit sweat is actually somewhat nutritious for cats! Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their wild diet comprises at least 70% animal proteins. Armpit sweat contains higher than average concentrations of fats and proteins. Your cat’s nose is fine-tuned to sniff out traces of animal proteins, and your armpit sweat is no exception.

2. Scent

Assuming your cat loves you, they’ll want to smell you. Your unique scent is going to be very strong in your armpits—that’s why we put deodorant there! And your cat stuffing their face into your armpit might just mean they want to be close to you.

Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

3. Grooming

Grooming is an affectionate action for cats. They will groom other cats that they care deeply for and love, and it’s well known in science that cats view their owners as some big, bipedal cat that’s terrible at doing cat things. So, they groom you—including your armpits—to try and show you how to groom yourself and keep you clean!

4. Suckling

If the cat in question is a young kitten, they may have been removed from their mother too young. Cats removed from their mothers too early may tuck their head into your armpit because it reminds them of suckling from their mother, and it comforts them.

ragdoll cat licking its lips
Image By: klevers, Shutterstock

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Is It Bad or Unhealthy If My Cat Licks My Armpit?

It’s not bad or unhealthy for your cat to lick your armpit. Armpit sweat contains nutrients and it doesn’t indicate that something is wrong if your cat wants to indulge in it.

The cat digestive system is different from humans and can handle a lot of unusual and even outright disgusting input like armpit sweat and earwax. These things are perfectly nutritionally sound for your cat, even if they’re gross in your opinion.

How Can I Stop My Cat From Licking My Armpit?

It’s possible to train your cat to stop licking your armpits. Cats don’t generally learn from punishment. So, refrain from punishing them. However, they do learn from futility. If you consistently stop your cat from licking your armpits, they will eventually stop because it isn’t worth trying when they know it won’t work. It may take some time for the futility to set in, but your cat will learn in due time not to lick your armpits if you continue to enforce your boundaries.

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Final Thoughts

As gross as it may seem to us, smelling and licking your armpits is just a natural part of being a cat. So, you don’t have to worry that there’s something wrong with your cat! If you want your cat to stop, you’ll have to train them not to do it. But if you don’t find it too offensive, there’s nothing wrong with letting your cat continue!

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