Cats enjoy licking other cats and their owners, but there’s probably one spot you’d rather they didn’t lick—your eye. Some cats have a habit of licking the eyelid or eye, which is a sensitive area, but do you know why?
Here are six possible reasons your cat may lick your eye area and what you can do about it.
The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Licks Your Eye
1. Your Cat Is Seeking Attention
Cats quickly learn that licking gets attention, and few things are harder to ignore than a rough tongue near your eye. You’ve likely rewarded this behavior by engaging with your cat in the past. Even if you scold or push your cat away, it’s still a reward. Sometimes, negative attention is better than no attention.
2. Your Cat Is Identifying You as Family
Cats mark objects with their scent. This is one of the reasons that mother cats lick their kittens to create a shared group smell. Your cat may be licking to transfer their scent, and the eyelid is the most appealing place.
3. Your Cat Is Attracted to the Salt
Our eyes secrete salt in our tears, and most cats enjoy a salty taste. Whether your eyes are tearing, you’ve been crying, or you’re a little sweaty, there’s probably a salty residue near your eye that’s attractive to your cat.
4. Your Cat Is Interested in the Twitch
If your cat licks your eyes while you’re sleeping, it could be because of the involuntary eye movements and twitches that happen when you’re in a deep sleep. Cats are natural hunters and endlessly curious, so movements like this get their attention.
5. Your Cat Is Trying to Keep You Clean
Cats groom themselves by licking. Mother cats will lick their kittens to help them stay clean, including around the eyes, to prevent eye infections. Your cat may simply be extending this behavior to you to help you stay clean.
6. Your Cat Is Anxious
Your cat could be anxious, which leads to compulsive licking. Typically, anxious or compulsive licking will be more than just your eye, so pay attention if your cat seems to lick themselves, objects, or your body and seems unable to control the behavior.
Is It Dangerous If a Cat Licks Your Eye?
Your cat licking your eye could be more than just weird or uncomfortable. Our eyes are sensitive and can get infections or injuries if a cat transfers bacteria or progresses to “love bites” that can damage the delicate skin around the eye or your eyeball itself.
Remember, your cat’s tongue has been on many surfaces, including counters, floors, their food dish, insects—the list goes on. Though it’s a sweet gesture, there’s a lot of bacteria or parasites that you wouldn’t want near your eye. If your cat licks your eye, redirect them with playtime or cuddles to discourage the behavior.
Your cat licking your eye may seem like a sweet behavior, and it is, but there are some dangers to be aware of. Repeated licking of such delicate areas could lead to redness or irritation on your skin, but there’s also a risk of an eye infection caused by your cat’s saliva. It’s best to discourage your cat from licking your eye and focus on more appropriate displays of affection.