In my lifetime I have had a lot of cats but only a small percentage of them ever licked me. Actually, there were only two males that would lick me so much I had to make them stop or I would have a raw arm or hand. I have had a few females that would give me a few licks now and again but nothing like the boys.
After some research, I find that there are reasons cats lick their family. It is a social bonding habit. It started when they were kittens and their mothers would lick them. She cleaned them when they were born, small, and unable to care for themselves. It also scent marked the kittens so the mother could recognize them. As they grew bigger, mom still made sure they were cleaned on a regular basis, sometimes against their will.
Licking is a comforting, soothing sensation to cats and it almost feels like the gentle stroking of your hands petting them. If a cat licks you, he or she is returning that favor. Cats that live together also lick each other to create a bonding within the group. They sometimes clean areas that are hard to reach like the ears or the top of the head. It can be a sign of affection.
Sometimes they groom themselves when they are stressed in order to feel secure. Our cats also feel when we are stressed and lick us as a form of comfort because they want to calm us down.
They like it when we pet them and they want to return the favor so they lick us back. Remember, to your cat being licked feels good, they don’t know they’re hurting you! A thorough cat licking isn’t always the most comfortable experience… This is because cat tongues have backward-facing hooks that are meant to pull and clean their fur the same way a comb would. When a cat licks you it’s just trying to show some love. They think of us as being friends so they use cat-friendly behaviors to express that. Really, who wouldn’t enjoy being petted and assured of affection?
I have also read that cats lick themselves to get our scent off of them. I have noticed that sometimes when I insist on petting my cat and the cat is not interested, they will walk away and start licking themselves.
Cats are known for keeping themselves very clean. After a meal they will “take a bath” to make sure there is no leftovers on them. They also take a good bath when they are ready to take a nap. I have seen some of my cats sit in the sun and take very long bath baths. It looks like they are really enjoying themselves!
Based on all the information I could gather, some cats will lick you and some won’t. No particular reason for either one. But if your cat does, they are just letting you know that you are a part of their family and want to show you some affection. Consider it a privilege. Just sit back and enjoy it.