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Do Cats Understand Kisses? Facts & Considerations

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

lilac burmese cat kissing womans nose

Cats are amazing creature companions for humans. They tend to be independent, so we can still live our lives without sacrificing the relationships that we have with them. They can be super affectionate at times, and they can help keep us warm when we sleep at night. If you’re like most cat parents, you enjoy giving kisses to your kitty as a way to show affection. That said, you might be questioning if your cat understands why you’re kissing them or even what a kiss is.

The answer is no, cats don’t naturally understand kisses like we humans do. However, cats can come to learn that a kiss from their human companion is a form of affection. They won’t show affection by kissing you like you do them, but that doesn’t mean that kisses can’t be part of your interactions. Here’s what else you should know about cats and kisses.

hepper cat paw divider

Many Cats Come to Recognize What Human Kisses Mean

While cats do not understand kisses in the same way that we do, they can learn what a kiss means in their own way. For instance, if you kiss your cat every time you tell them that you love them and follow it up by stroking their fur, they will begin to learn that the kiss is just part of the affection that you’re showing them.

Portrait of a young beautiful woman in a yellow shirt hugging kissing with a gray fluffy cat sitting on the sofa
Image Credit: Olezzo, Shutterstock

Not All Cats Like Kisses

Just because a cat can learn that a kiss from a human companion is a form of affection doesn’t mean they will like getting kissed. Some cats like the kisses, while others don’t care to be kissed under any circumstances. Some cats are indifferent to the interaction, and others will get downright violent. Here are signs of each type of kitty’s reactions to kisses.

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Signs That Your Cat Enjoys Kisses

If your cat happens to enjoy getting kissed by you and other members of the household, they might display signs like:

  • Purring
  • Eyes slowly blinking
  • Leaning toward the kiss
  • Responds with a good head rub
  • Responds with grooming (licking)
Cat being kissed by owner
Image Credit: JensEnemark, Pixabay

Signs That Your Cat Doesn’t Like Kisses

Some cats just don’t like kisses. They may tolerate one here and there, but if they don’t like being kissed, they will likely communicate their feelings with you through the following signs:

  • Trying to avoid the kiss
  • Ears pulled backward
  • Abrupt tail swishing
  • Simply walking away

Signs That Your Cat Is Indifferent to Kisses

Some cats are indifferent to kisses and they’ll let people kiss them all day without much complaint. However, they also won’t respond with gratitude or return affection, as the kisses don’t sway their feelings or thoughts.

Here are signs that a cat is indifferent to your kisses:
  • There is no positive or negative response.
  • There is no noticeable body language response.
  • No interest is shown.

Signs That Kisses Make Your Cat Angry

Some cats can get downright nasty when they are kissed, though some owners associate the anger with a bad day and keep trying to give out those kisses. If your cat gets angry when they are kissed, it’s a good idea to take heed and try a different way of showing your affection.

Signs to look out for include:
owner petting a hissing angry tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

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Final Comments

Cats cannot understand what a kiss is in the way that we do, but they can interpret a kiss as affection based on our actions and feelings as we kiss them. Some cats can appreciate the sentiment, while others downright hate it. Then there are those that are somewhere in between.

The best thing to do is figure out how your cat feels about kisses and act accordingly. If they love kisses, offering them will make you both feel good. But it’s not worth giving kisses to make yourself feel good if it puts a damper on your cat’s day.


Featured Image Credit: Julija Sulkovska, Shutterstock

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