Cats lick themselves to clean their coats. Their rough tongue removes dirt, loose hair and debris. Saliva has antibacterial properties.
Cats lick to either warm up or cool down. Licking warms cats by increasing blood circulation. It cools by dispersing heat through evaporation.
Licking helps heal wounds by removing infectious agents and dead tissue. Saliva contains enzymes that promote healing.
Cats lick each other while grooming to bond. Mothers lick kittens to comfort them. Cats lick owners to show affection.
Licking releases endorphins that induce feelings of pleasure and relaxation. Many cats lick themselves as a calming, self-soothing behavior.
Licking provides stimulation for bored cats. Excessive licking can indicate anxiety, stress or lack of environmental enrichment.
Licking helps cats swallow loose hair to form fur balls for vomiting up hair they can't digest. Long-haired cats get fur balls more often.