The Hidden Reason Why Kissing Your Cat on the Head Makes Them Purr


Kissing your cat on the head is a common way for cat owners to show affection to their feline friends. It allows you to get up close to your cat and deliver a sweet smooch right to the top of their head. Many cat owners find it enjoyable to plant little kisses on their cat’s head as a part of their regular cuddle and playtime routine. Cats often seem to appreciate this sign of affection as well. However, as with any interaction with animals, kissing your cat does come with some potential risks that cat owners should be aware of. This article provides an overview of the benefits, risks, safety precautions, and proper technique for kissing your cat on the head so you can share affection with your feline friend while keeping health and safety top of mind.

Benefits of Kissing Your Cat on the Head

Kissing your cat on the head is a great way to show affection and strengthen your bond. When cats feel loved, they may slowly blink their eyes at you, which is their version of giving a kiss back (Catārama, n.d.). Giving your cat a kiss helps reinforce positive associations through affectionate touch. Your cat will come to see you as a source of comfort and security.

Kissing is a social grooming behavior that mimics how cats strengthen connections with each other. By kissing your cat, you are speaking their language and engaging in species-appropriate bonding. Cats have scent glands on their head, so kissing them there may mingles your scents in a way cats understand (Vetwest Veterinary Clinics, n.d.). This can make your cat feel more bonded and attached to you.

Overall, kissing your cat on the head is a sweet way to build trust and rapport. As long as some basic precautions are taken, it can benefit the relationship between you and your feline friend.


While kissing your cat on the head is generally safe, there are some risks to be aware of:

Bites and Scratches – Cats may view a kiss on the head as threatening and respond by biting or scratching. This is especially true for cats who are not used to being kissed or more skittish personalities. Bites and scratches can lead to infections. Be cautious and watch your cat’s body language before attempting a kiss.

Startling Your Cat – Sudden kisses could startle your cat, especially if they are sleeping or not expecting it. This surprise could lead to bites or scratches as well. Try to approach slowly before kissing and look for signs your cat is receptive.

According to Pet Care Rx, one disease that can potentially be transmitted by kissing your cat on the head is Corynebacterium ulcerans. However, the risks are low if you avoid kissing near your cat’s mouth, nose, or eyes where bacteria are more prominent.

When to Avoid

While kissing your cat on the head is generally safe, there are some situations where you’ll want to avoid doing so. As with humans, it’s best not to disturb a cat while they are sleeping or eating.

Cats sleep over 15 hours a day on average. Their sleep is essential for maintaining good health and wellbeing. If your cat is napping or sleeping deeply, it’s best not to wake them just for a kiss. Let sleeping cats lie.

Mealtimes are another occasion to avoid kissing your cat’s head. Cats can view mealtime as an important daily ritual and don’t like to be interrupted. Kissing while they are eating could cause stress that disrupts their routine. It’s better to wait until your cat has finished their meal before showing affection.

You should also use caution around unfamiliar cats. Kissing a cat you don’t know well could provoke an aggressive reaction, such as biting or scratching. It’s smarter to build trust with a new cat first before attempting a kiss. Let the cat warm up to you at their own pace.

By avoiding kissing when a cat is sleeping, eating, or still unfamiliar with you, you can prevent stressing your feline friend. Pay attention to their comfort levels. The right time for a head kiss will show itself.

How to Do It Safely

Kissing your cat’s head can be done safely if you take some precautions. Here are some tips for safely showing affection to your feline friend:

Make slow movements when approaching your cat to kiss their head. Cats can be startled by fast movements, so move slowly and let them see you coming. Speak softly to help reassure them.

Let your cat initiate contact and sniff you before kissing their head. This allows them to become comfortable with your presence first.

Use treats to positively reinforce the behavior and help your cat associate head kisses with something enjoyable. Give treats during and after kissing your cat’s head.

Avoid kissing near sensitive areas like their eyes, ears, and mouth. Stick to the top or side of their head to be safe.

Pay attention to your cat’s body language. If they pull away, seem tense or agitated, take that as a sign to stop.

Start slow, especially with shy or skittish cats. Build up positive associations over multiple interactions before kissing their head directly.

Different Cat Personalities

Cats have unique personalities, so some may enjoy kisses while others prefer less affection. Shy cats in particular tend to prefer minimal handling and affection. Kissing a shy cat on the head before it’s comfortable with you can cause stress. According to veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, shy cats need time to warm up to physical affection at their own pace.

On the other hand, social cats that crave attention usually appreciate and solicit kisses and cuddles. As veterinarian Dr. Christy Corp-Minamiji states, “For those felines that do enjoy snuggling and physical affection, a kiss on the head is often appreciated.” Pay attention to your cat’s body language – if they initiate head bumps or rubs, they are likely open to a kiss on the head as an affectionate greeting.


Kittens are very fragile creatures, so pet owners need to exercise extra care and gentleness when kissing them on the head. A kitten’s bones don’t fully form and harden until it reaches 6-12 months old1. Their skulls and necks are extremely delicate during the first year of life. Kittens also haven’t built up much immunity yet, so they’re more prone to get sick if exposed to bacteria or viruses from a human’s mouth and hands.

It’s best to closely supervise young kittens when kissing them. Gently press your lips to the top of their head without applying any pressure. Make sure to not grab them or restrict their movements, which could potentially harm their fragile bones and joints. Go slowly and gauge their reaction – if the kitten seems distressed, stop immediately. Allow them to walk away freely. With patience and care, kittens may come to appreciate and seek out affection as they grow.

Elderly Cats

Elderly cats can be more fragile so you need to be gentle when kissing them on the head. Their bones become brittle so avoid putting too much pressure. Elderly cats also may develop health issues like arthritis that could make kissing painful if you touch a tender spot. Check with your vet if your elderly cat displays signs of pain when you try to kiss their head.

However, elderly cats still benefit from affection. Gentle kisses on the head show your bond is just as strong as when they were younger. Some elderly cats may lean into kisses or head bumps to ask for more. Pay attention to your cat’s reactions and avoid areas that seem sensitive.

Kissing your elderly cat’s head is generally safe if done gently. Just monitor their health issues and reactions. With care, it can still be an effective way to bond with your aging pet.

Other Affection Options

While most cats do enjoy and even crave affection from their owners, kissing may not be every cat’s preferred way of receiving love. Luckily, there are many other ways to show your cat affection that it may enjoy more.

One great alternative is chin scratches. Most cats love having their chin gently scratched and will lift their head up asking for more. The chin contains scent glands, so scratching here leaves your scent on your cat, helping create that special bond. Start off with light scratches and see how your cat responds. Increase pressure if your cat clearly enjoys it. Avoid scratching too hard or for too long to prevent irritation.

You can also give your cat cheek rubs. Gently rub the sides of your cat’s face in a circular motion with your fingers. Focus on the areas around your cat’s whiskers. Your cat may lean into your hand or start purring to show its satisfaction. Let your cat guide you to how much pressure and the exact location it likes rubbed.

These focused areas of physical affection can allow you and your cat to share a tender moment of connection. Pay attention to your cat’s reactions to discover its unique likes and dislikes when it comes to showing affection.


In summary, kissing your cat on the head can be a way to bond with your feline companion if done properly. Most cats enjoy gentle kisses as long as you avoid sensitive areas like their whiskers or ears. Pay attention to your cat’s reaction so you’ll know if they like kisses or would prefer a different display of affection. Limit kisses to a few at a time and try rubbing cheeks instead. Kittens and elderly cats may be overwhelmed by too much stimulation. Ultimately, every cat has unique preferences so get to know what your pet likes. Show your kitty you care through safe kisses, pets, playtime, and proper care.

Here are some final tips for kissing your cat on the head:

  • Start with a few gentle kisses and see how they react
  • Rub cheeks instead of kissing if they seem unsure
  • Never force kisses if they pull away
  • Avoid areas like ears, whiskers, and mouth
  • Watch for signs of overstimulation like swishing tail
  • Kittens and elderly cats may prefer gentler affection
  • Make kissing just one part of a loving relationship
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