Licking, cleaning, and bonding
You might have noticed, cats like licking themselves. In fact, they spend a third of their waking hours grooming. You’ve probably seen a cat with her kittens, licking them to keep them clean, but it’s also a sign of affection. It makes the kittens feel safe. Even in later life a cat will lick itself after a frightening or upsetting experience. Licking reduces tension, helps cats cool down when it’s hot and even lowers their heart rate.
Adult cats lick each other, only if they are related or have a good bond. When you stroke your cat, they will often lick you back, as a show of the affection and bond they have with you. Yes, their tongue can be a little rough, but it’s a small price to pay for your close relationship.