My cat climbs on my chest when I'm sleeping and licks my face. She does this several times a night. It's not just in the morning and it's not because she's hungry (she still has food when I get up). She's driving me nuts and I can't get a good nights' sleep! Why is she doing this? She's not a very affectionate cat otherwise.
If not a cry for attention, this is most likely a sign of affection. Our rescue cat was immensely grateful when we took him in. Other than cuddling, at night he would curl into me and start grooming my beard.
The fish breath was disgusting, but I appreciated the kind gesture and didn't feel like telling him off for it (your mileage may vary). He eventually stopped when he matured.
The same thing happens between our other two cats (sisters), and occasionally the three of them. It's a sign of affecting that they help groom each other.
If you want it to stop without punishing your cat for it, simply suggest alternate affection. Move your face away, pet the cat and softly nudge her to lie down next to you. If you keep doing this, you're going to get what you want. If the cat doesn't like it, it won't approach you anymore (because it knows you're going to try and force it into a cuddle), if it does like it, then you've successfully redirected it.
This is not an overnight fix as you're trying to retrain a cat's natural reflex. It takes time and consistency.
I have a cat who does this routinely, each night. She will paw at me until I roll only my back so she can sit on my chest and like my nose. If I tolerate it and let it happen, she will eventually lay down on my chest or return to her bed. She is not a very affectionate cat, but asks for affection on a fairly regular schedule. I'm convinced this is one of the times she wants attention.
Make sure you're giving your kitty lots of attention during the day, and play with her a lot, especially when you're getting ready to go to bed. I find this wears my kitty out and she is more likely to sleep through the night (or, at least not bug me).
If your cat licks you maybe she wants something from you like food or attention. Have a scheduled plan of when to feed her and when to play with her. Add time to play and eat when you’re about to go to bed. Also try making her sleep later then she will get up later. The more you play the more she’ll sleep. If not try consulting a vet about this problem when you go for a vaccination or check up.
What I personally observe is, it is the way to show love and affection. That is the reason cat is licking your face (when no one is around). Nothing is bad in this.
Usually the small Kittens do that. Even I have a kitten who usually do this. All I need to do is, I give it some space, and it sleeps with me.
May be it wants something from you. (As you said that there is food and litter etc) but may be some space to sleep with you! Or your massage etc.
Hope this will help you.