Do Cats Like to Be Kissed? (Kissin’ Kittens)

Updated: August 21, 2023


We humans have established clear methods for expressing affection towards our loved ones. We engage in cuddling, hugging, and kissing with those we hold dear, and this sentiment extends to many individuals who own cats.

Bestowing a gentle kiss on the top of your cat’s head might be a spontaneous gesture, but there are moments when it’s challenging to ascertain if your cat comprehends the intention behind your action. It can be a bit disheartening to withdraw from the kiss only to find your feline companion glaring at you with a scowl!

This leads us to the fundamental query that every cat enthusiast who loves to give kisses must ponder: do cats genuinely enjoy being kissed? And if not, what are some ways approved by feline sensibilities to demonstrate your affection for your cat? Get ready to pucker up, as we’re about to delve into these enigmatic matters with due consideration.

Do Cats Understand Kisses?

Let’s start with the basics: Does your cat truly comprehend the meaning behind your gestures when you shower him with kisses?

Well, this can differ depending on the individual cat, but generally speaking, the answer tends to be negative.

Your cat grasps the notion that when you scratch behind its ears, give a gentle rub to its backside, or stroke its back, these actions are all ways of drawing closer to it. It interprets these moments of petting as displays of affection that strengthen the bond between you two, in addition to providing a pleasurable sensation.

However, when you cap off a session of petting with a kiss on the head, it tends to leave your feline friend a bit perplexed.

Kisses don’t replicate the tactile experience of petting. They feel more like brief, direct pressures rather than the elongated, soothing motions that cats generally prefer.

As a result, your cat doesn’t experience the same physical delight it associates with the fond touch of petting. Since cats themselves don’t use kisses as a means of expressing affection, they lack the context to comprehend that your actions are rooted in love.

Nonetheless, certain cats might eventually make the connection between kisses and affection. This is more likely to occur if your cat boasts a relaxed, affectionate demeanor and if you consistently pair kisses with petting sessions.

Cats Who Don’t Understand Kisses Don’t Enjoy Them

Whether your cat derives pleasure from kisses essentially boils down to whether he comprehends their significance. However, delving into his thoughts isn’t necessary to establish a mutual understanding – he will readily communicate his preferences if he’s not fond of your gestures!

To discern his stance, give your cat a gentle kiss on the head and observe his reaction.

Does he initiate a tail swaying motion, cease his purring, or attempt to distance himself from you? These behaviors are solid cues that he’s not too keen on this form of affection and would rather you desist.

Or does he rise and take a swipe at you, with dilated eyes and his tail bushed up? If that’s the case, it’s not just that he dislikes kisses; he actively despises them and is endeavoring to protect himself from them. In essence, he’s making it abundantly clear that you should put a halt to it!

Conversely, if he derives enjoyment from your kisses, he’ll likely purr, rhythmically knead his paws, and perhaps even lean into the kiss. If these responses occur, it’s a positive indicator that he’s picked up on your unique expression of affection and doesn’t mind the sensation.

And if he truly relishes the kisses, he might even reciprocate with a lick or a gentle headbutt when you withdraw from the kiss!

So How Do Cats Show Affection?

Even though cats don’t engage in kissing as humans do, they possess their own distinct methods of expressing affection. If your cat isn’t receptive to or doesn’t comprehend kisses, consider experimenting with these feline-endorsed techniques for displaying love. In the language of cats, these actions serve as the equivalent of kisses!

Arguably the most akin action to a kiss in the realm of cats is the deliberate slow blink. Executing this maneuver is simple: establish eye contact with your cherished feline, then gradually shut and reopen your eyes.

The act of closing your eyes communicates to your cat that you have faith in their non-aggressive intentions and that they can mirror this trust in you. Should your cat respond in kind, it’s as if you’ve exchanged a heartfelt gesture in their perspective.

A notable advantage of the slow blink is that physical proximity isn’t a requisite. You can be positioned at opposite ends of a room and still convey your affectionate connection to each other through this subtle gesture.

The Headbutt: A Bit of Tough Love

Although we often associate headbutting with playful wrestling or juvenile rough interactions, it’s not exactly a display of affection in those contexts.

Yet, for your feline companion, a gentle headbutt holds the significance of a warm embrace or a tender kiss on the cheek. This endearing gesture can transpire casually during a passing moment or be incorporated into a more prolonged cuddle session, all with the underlying intention of expressing their love for you.

Reciprocating headbutts can pose a challenge, however. Your head is considerably larger than your cat’s, which might make them less at ease with the idea of you headbutting them in return.

The ideal approach is to allow your cat to initiate the headbutting, and simply be open to receiving it when they do. If your cat has a preferred target for headbutting, like your forehead or cheek, present that area to them and await their gentle lean-in to make contact. This way, you can wholeheartedly engage in this feline form of affection.

The Rub: I’ll Make You Mine!

When your cat rubs his head and body against you, he’s engaging in a process of marking you with his distinctive scent. These pheromones function as a form of identification for him among other cats. By leaving his scent on you, he’s essentially broadcasting to the feline world that you are part of his domain.

While this behavior might come across as a tad possessive, it’s important not to overanalyze it. Ultimately, he’s attempting to safeguard your affection and devotion from being swayed by other cats.

Allow him to carry out this ritual of rubbing against you whenever he feels the need to refresh his scent. This unusual yet sentimental gesture represents his way of expressing deep gratitude for your presence in his life.

Do Cats Enjoy Being Kissed?

Kissing your cat might not be as welcomed by them as it is by us. Cats have unique preferences when it comes to physical affection, and not all of them enjoy being kissed. Some cats may tolerate it, while others might find it uncomfortable or even stressful.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Likes Kisses?

Pay attention to your cat’s body language. If they seem relaxed, purring, and nuzzling you, they might be more open to your kisses. However, if they tense up, squirm, or try to move away, it’s a sign that they might not be enjoying the experience.

Why Do Some Cats Dislike Kisses?

Cats are sensitive to their environment and touch. The sensation of a kiss, combined with the close proximity of your face, might be overwhelming for them. Additionally, cats have scent glands on their heads, so direct contact might feel invasive.

Are There Other Ways Cats Prefer to Be Loved?

Absolutely! Cats often appreciate gentle petting, chin scratches, and spending quality time with their owners. Each cat has its own comfort zone, so observe their reactions to different interactions to figure out what they enjoy.

Are There Cats That Do Like Kisses?

Yes, some cats might enjoy gentle, brief kisses from their trusted humans. It’s important to remember that every cat is an individual, and their preferences can vary widely.

How Can You Show Affection Without Kissing?

Many cats respond well to calm and slow interactions. Sitting quietly with your cat, playing with interactive toys, and giving them space to approach you on their terms are great ways to show your love without resorting to kisses.

What Are Some Signs of Cat Affection?

Cats express affection in various ways, such as purring, slow blinking (often referred to as “cat kisses”), kneading with their paws, and rubbing their scent against you. Learning to recognize these signs can help you connect with your feline friend.

What’s the Best Approach to Interacting with Cats?

Always respect your cat’s boundaries. Pay attention to their cues and reactions. If they show signs of discomfort or avoidance, it’s essential to give them space. Over time, you’ll learn how your cat likes to be loved and can tailor your interactions accordingly.


The question of whether cats enjoy being kissed is not a one-size-fits-all answer. While some cats might tolerate or even enjoy kisses from their human companions, many cats have their own distinct preferences when it comes to physical affection. It’s crucial to pay close attention to your cat’s body language and reactions to determine how they truly feel about kisses.

Remember that cats have various ways of showing and receiving affection. Instead of focusing solely on kisses, take the time to understand your cat’s individual preferences. Engaging in gentle petting, interactive play, and allowing them to approach you on their terms are excellent alternatives to kissing.

Respecting your cat’s boundaries and responding to their cues is paramount. If your cat doesn’t seem comfortable with kisses, it’s essential to find other ways to foster a strong bond and demonstrate your love. By being attuned to your cat’s needs and preferences, you can create a meaningful and fulfilling relationship that’s built on mutual trust and understanding.

Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

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