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Cat Licking Displacement Activity

Photo and words: PoC.

Cat Licking has many functions (grooming for one) including as a displacement activity. What is a displacement activity?

When I am talking and under pressure I tend to lick my lips (they go red as a consequence - this doesn't happen that often thankfully). When I am not sure what to do, for example when I am making a post to this website, I scratch my head. These are classic displacement activities. They are activities designed to relieve the discomfort of being unsure.

When you see your cat lick her lips (mine licks her upper lip and nose, exactly as in the picture above), it is a sign that she is slightly agitated because she is in a mild state of conflict torn between attraction and repulsion.

Apparently the big cats do the same thing, but I would advise testing this. Sometimes when I talk to my cat she licks her lips as described. It seems that she wants to understand me but can't until I make exactly the right kind of sounds and motions at which point she stops and does as asked. This is normally to get off the bed, get into the kitchen for some prawns. Other times when a cat is unsure of what is happening and when events might be harmful to her she might lick her nose while deciding what to do.

Sometimes cat licking can be abnormal. Click here to read about that.

Cat Licking Displacement Activity to Cat Facts


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