Kissing is natural for humans and we take pleasure in it. Our lips are ultra-sensitive to kisses and our bodies release feel-good hormones when we kiss, causing us to associate kissing with feeling loved.
It’s natural to think that our furry companions will like kissing too. But, what’s natural for us is not the same for cats. They may learn to accept this behavior in time, while others stick to their love language.
As cat parents, we are drawn towards our cat’s adorable features as if inviting us to lean in for a kiss. While some don’t think about how their cat would feel when kissed, others wonder if cats understand what the kiss is for.
Do cats love their owners?
Cats are intelligent creatures, but their love language is unique to them. There have been attempts to study the effects of interaction between humans and their furry pals, such as measuring oxytocin levels in cats after bonding with their human companions.
But cats often choose to show their love in private. They are selective about who they love and how they show their affection. Even members of the same household aren’t likely to receive the same level of affection from the family cat. Cats play favorites, too.
How do cats show you that they love you?
Cats should feel dignified and thus be in control of how they give and receive love. If you picked a cat up, grabbed one for a cuddle, or a face-to-face kiss, the cat is likely to bite, scratch, or hiss.
A cat has to know you well enough to allow any form of affection.
Kissing is a higher level of affection that should not be demanded of cats. But cats do adapt and learn the love language of humans too. In the meantime, they may enjoy a stroke on the back or even roll over for a belly rub.
Other ways cats show affection include:
- Brushing against your skin
- Lick, knead or groom you
- Bring back their prey as gifts to you
- Meows and purrs
- Sits on your lap or your head (or your book, keyboard, the list goes on…)
- Head-butts you
How do cats react when kissed?
Cats, like humans, have different personalities. Some strongly protest against kissing. Other cats tolerate a kiss on the head or cheek. Some will do a nose-to-nose with you, or they may lick your nose.
Some train their kittens to be more affectionate by kissing their owners. Cats observe their household. When kissing is a common sight, they may learn to accept kisses. A few even ask for a kiss.
But, be cautious about temperaments. Just like humans are sometimes not in the mood for a kiss, so are cats. They will get aggressive if you burst their bubble.
How do you know if your cat doesn’t like to be kissed?
- Check the tail: If they curl their tail upward while they walk towards you for a kiss, they like it. If you lean in for a kiss and its tail is sweeping from side to side, back off.
- Check the eyes: When you kiss your cat and it closes its eyes or does the “slow blink,” you can be sure your feline friend is taking it all in. Cats can throw you a kiss in the air by blinking or closing their eyes.
- Check the ears: When their ears close halfway and so are their eyes (like with a piercing look), then no, they don’t like it.
- Check the head: Do they rub or press their head against you? Then it’s A-okay to kiss away. But, they duck or try to escape? Nah, try the next feline, buddy.
- Listen to them: Cats can be vocal about their love for you. When you kiss and they purr tenderly, then you know they feel relaxed by your affection. A loud “Noooo” or a hiss, on the other hand, is not the cue you were looking for.
But, I want to kiss my cat…
Kissing your cat is more for personal desire, than for your cat. But, it doesn’t hurt to try. It does take patience as you work on your relationship with your cat. As you bond often, you can try to give a light peck on your cat’s head. Cats don’t often argue when you kiss them on the head.
Kissing cats on the lips
A close bond can make a cat more affectionate to the point of cats kissing humans on the lips. This is a learned behavior like eating in the kitchen and using the litter box in the bathroom. Cats can emulate the behavior of their human companions.
But there are risks when you kiss a cat on the mouth, such as:
- Bacteria: While rumor has it that a cat’s mouth is as dirty as a human’s mouth, their preying on rodents expose them to bacteria you wouldn’t want in your mouth.
- Parasites: Some cats eat their litter or wipe their paws exposed to feces and expose you to toxoplasmosis when you kiss on the lips. Such can cause human blindness.
Children, pregnant women, and those with weaker immune systems are more at risk of getting an infection from cat kisses.
Are there any benefits of kissing a cat?
Well, none that science has proven. But, the mere presence of a feline friend and its way of showing affection does have positive health benefits for humans:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Good for mental health
- Promotes bonding
You don’t need cat kisses to get these benefits. Cats kissing their owners are treated like a bonus, a rare occurrence that shows intimacy between companions.
Do cats benefit from kissing their owner?
It is important not to force a cat to kiss to avoid causing stress. When a cat tries to avoid kisses, it is best to respect its wishes. Otherwise, there should be no harm done to cats when their cat parents kiss them.
Cats will show their love back by purring, licking, or kissing back. They won’t smack or pucker up, but they will try to imitate kissing if they see you do it at home.
Cats don’t mind a kiss on the head or cheek once you’ve grown a strong bond with them. The more sociable a cat’s personality is, the more likely it will learn to kiss as a way to show affection.
Otherwise, it is not like a cat to kiss its human companion. Cats have plenty of ways to show they love you and can even be jealous and possessive.
But cats will avoid you, be vocal, or aggressive when they don’t like to be kissed. Who kisses them, where you kiss, and how well you know each other all determine whether a cat will like a kiss or not.