Do Cats Actually Enjoy Kisses? The Truth About Furry Face Smooches


Kissing our furry feline friends is a common sign of affection among cat owners. The act elicits a range of reactions from cats – some lean in for more, while others seem perturbed. So do cats actually like kisses, or are we just projecting our human feelings onto them?

In this article, we’ll explore reasons why cats may enjoy or dislike kisses, provide tips on how to introduce kisses safely, and discuss signs that indicate whether your cat wants a smooch or not. With insight from veterinarians and cat behaviorists, as well as surveys of cat owners’ experiences, we hope to provide a definitive answer to the question: do cats like it when you kiss them?

Reasons Cats May Enjoy Kisses

Cats often enjoy kisses as a way to show affection and bond with their owners. According to a recent study, cats form secure attachments to their owners similarly to dogs. When a cat receives kisses, it reinforces the bond between the cat and their human. Kisses can be a comforting gesture that makes a cat feel loved and secure with their owner.

Cats appreciate the attention and care behind a kiss from their favorite human. It’s a clear sign of affection. Some cats may even kiss their owners back as a reciprocal sign of bonding. While cats express love differently than dogs, they nonetheless can develop deep connections and enjoy affection from their owners.

Signs a Cat Likes Kisses

One of the most obvious signs a cat enjoys kisses and affection is purring. As this article from Purina explains, cats often purr loudly during close contact like petting, stroking, or kisses. The vibration and unique sound is thought to demonstrate happiness and contentment. So if your cat begins purring when you kiss or nuzzle them, it’s a clear indication they like the attention.

Cats may also rub their head against you or lightly headbutt you when being kissed as another positive sign. Head rubbing and bunting spreads the cat’s scent on you and allows cats to mix scents with loved ones. So if your cat headbutts or nuzzles into your face when you kiss them, they are likely marking you with their scent and showing affection in response. Overall, purring and head rubbing are good cues your cat enjoys kisses.

Reasons Cats May Dislike Kisses

Kisses can startle some cats or make them uncomfortable if they don’t understand the gesture. Cats communicate primarily through scent, so kisses don’t hold meaning for them the way they do for humans. The sensation of lips on their fur or skin can be alarming if they haven’t been conditioned to associate kisses with affection.

Some cats may perceive kisses as threatening if they involve direct eye contact or looming over them. Staring and hovering closely over a cat can seem intimidating and provoke a defensive reaction. It’s best to approach cats at their level and let them initiate closer contact.

The sound of kissing near their sensitive ears may also disturb cats. A cat’s hearing range extends beyond a human’s, so the smacking noise can be unpleasant at close range. Cats generally dislike loud sounds, especially near their ears, so kisses too close may agitate them.

Certain cats are simply more sensitive or skittish by nature. Genetics, early life experiences, and underlying health issues can all make a cat more easily frightened. For sensitive cats, kisses may feel invasive rather than affectionate.

Overall, cats that dislike kisses typically do so because the sensation goes against their instincts. Respecting their boundaries and learning more cat-friendly ways to bond can help earn their trust and affection over time.

Signs a Cat Dislikes Kisses

Cats display clear body language when they do not enjoy being kissed. Some common signs that a cat dislikes kisses include:

Hissing – If a cat hisses when you go in for a kiss, this is a clear sign to stop. Hissing indicates fear, anxiety, or aggression. A hissing cat is saying “back off.”

Scratching – A cat may scratch or swipe at you when you attempt to kiss them. This is a defensive behavior meant to create distance and communicate “no.” Scratches signal overstimulation and a need for less physical contact.

Running away – If your cat bolts whenever you go in for a kiss, take the hint. Cats dislike restraint and will flee unwanted touch. Let them come to you on their own terms.

Flattened ears – Ears pressed back against the head suggest an unhappy cat. This body language conveys anger, fear, or feeling threatened during unwanted kisses.

Swishing tail – Agitated tail movement often accompanies ear flattening. It shows irritation at invasion of personal space.

Tense body – A cat who freezes up, tenses muscles, or cowers away is clearly uncomfortable with kissing. Respect their boundaries.

Aggression – Some cats may bite or attack in response to unwanted kisses. This sends a forceful message to stop the unpleasant stimulus.

Vocalizations – Growling, yowling or other distressed vocalizations are a surefire sign a cat dislikes kisses.

While every cat has unique preferences, these signals generally mean “no kisses please!” It’s important to pay close attention and avoid actions that provoke such negative reactions.

Kissing Safety

While kissing your cat can be an affectionate gesture, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind.

Avoid kissing your cat directly on the mouth. A cat’s mouth contains bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Kissing your cat on the lips can potentially transmit diseases like cat scratch fever and toxoplasmosis (1). It’s safer to focus kisses on the top of the head, cheeks or back.

Also be alert for any signs your cat dislikes kisses. Some cats may bite or scratch if they feel threatened by unwanted kisses (2). Pay attention to your cat’s body language and back off if you notice flattened ears, twitching tail, growling or other agitated behavior.

With some caution and care, kissing your feline friend can be a sweet way to bond. Just be mindful of hygiene and your cat’s comfort level to keep the experience positive for both of you.


When to Avoid Kissing

There are some situations when you should avoid kissing your cat, even if they normally enjoy it.

First, avoid kissing if your cat is sick or injured. Cats carry bacteria and viruses that can make humans sick, like salmonella and campylobacter. Kitties with upper respiratory infections or other contagious diseases should not be kissed until they have fully recovered.

Second, use caution with a new cat whose health and vaccination history you don’t know. Stray cats in particular may carry diseases. It’s best to avoid too much face-to-face contact until a vet has examined them.

Finally, skip the kisses if your cat has just eaten, used the litterbox, or been outside and may have dirt or germs on their face. Giving them a quick wipe with a wet cloth first is a good idea.

While kissing carries a small risk, simple precautions can reduce the chances of transmitting sickness between cats and humans.

How to Introduce Kisses

When introducing kisses to a cat, it’s important to go slowly and pay close attention to their body language. Cats that are unfamiliar with kisses may be startled or overwhelmed at first. Start by kissing the top of their head or cheeks briefly while petting them. This combines the kiss with a comforting stroking motion they already enjoy. Gradually work up to longer kisses as the cat seems comfortable.

Watch for signs they are open to kisses, like purring, leaning into you, or rubbing their head on you. If they pull away, flatten their ears back, or seem stiff, take a break from kissing to help them relax. Don’t chase or restrain a cat to kiss them. Let the cat approach you when ready and offer kisses at their pace. With patience and positive reinforcement, many cats learn to enjoy and even initiate kisses from their owners.

Best Ways to Kiss a Cat

When kissing your cat, it’s best to focus on areas like their cheeks, head, and back strokes. Cats often enjoy gentle kisses on their cheeks, under their chin, or on the top of their head. According to Treehugger, many cats appreciate forehead kisses as a bonding gesture. Light kisses on a cat’s head and cheeks can mimic the social grooming cats do with each other.

Kissing the back of a cat while stroking can also be enjoyable for cats. As noted by VOVETS, some cats see kissing as a calming act of care when paired with pets. Slowly running your hand down a cat’s back while delivering soft kisses can be soothing. However, always watch for signs your cat is overstimulated or wants you to stop.

In general, focus kisses on areas cats can easily move away from if unwanted. Avoid kissing sensitive regions like the stomach, legs, tail, or paws which may feel invasive. Keep kisses gentle, read your cat’s signals, and offer affection in ways they enjoy most.


In summary, cats have varying reactions to being kissed. Some cats enjoy kisses and signs of affection, while others may dislike it. When introducing kisses, go slowly and watch for signs that your cat is uncomfortable, like ears back or them pulling away. The safest approaches are gentle kisses on the head or cheeks. Avoid kissing near the mouth, eyes or ears. Stay alert for signs of distress. While kisses can strengthen your bond, respect your cat’s boundaries and preferences. With care and patience, many cats learn to enjoy kisses in moderation.

To recap, gauge your cat’s reaction, start slow, watch for signs of dislike, and find the right balance of affection. With sensitivity to their needs, kisses can be a sweet way to interact with feline friends.

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