Do cats perceive kisses as signs of affection? Do cats like it when you kiss them? And how do we tell if a cat doesn’t want to be kissed?
It is important to remember that cats are very different species with their own methods of communication. Within the parameters of feline body language, kissing and hugging don't exist. If you've just adopted a new cat and kiss or hug them to show affection, they will likely not understand your purpose behind this behavior. Unfortunately, a gesture of affection of this kind might be experienced as an invasion of their living space. How to kiss your cat properly so they know you love them As we've already explained, if you have a newly adopted cat, they will not yet understand your behaviors and can become stressed and confused when you kiss or hug them. With time however, cats may learn to associate kisses as a display of affection. Although felines do enjoy being quite independent, they still like receiving attention and spending time with the people they trust. Once you've bonded with your feline and have established ways to positively communicate with them, your cat may perceive kisses as a warm and friendly gesture and an expression of love. What is a cat kiss? Oftentimes, cats show us their love by kneading us, headbutting us, and lying on their backs and exposing their belly, but they never crane up for a big wet smooch. Sometimes cats lick their people, but it is very different from a kiss. Licking is a trait they carry out from the time they're kittens, and it's motivated by several impulses. Mother cats will often lick their kittens to keep them clean and give them comfort. When your cat licks you, it’s their way of grooming you and showing they care about your wellbeing. It's a sign of love and affection and a great way to bond. Licking is also a way of marking territory. In this case, if your cat is licking you, they’re depositing their scent and trying to ensure that other cats or animals know that you belong to them! Likewise, when your cat rub against your legs, they are actually marking you with their scent to let other cats know you are theirs. When your cat displays these gestures of affection towards you, it’s a sign they are feeling all the love and are reciprocating your affection. How to tell if a cat doesn’t want to be kissed A cat who doesn’t want to be kissed will show their stress by giving you certain signals. Some signs are overt—like biting or hissing at you—but some are more subtlelike when they flatten their ears or flick their tails rapidly. Your cat may even arch their back or swat at you to let you know they want to be left alone. When your cat displays any of these signs, you must stop and move away. Cats are creatures of habit who behave based on experiences and associations. Getting kissed when they don’t want to, is a negative experience for the animal. Too many of those, and your cat will soon associate you with negative feelings, leading to a weakened bond between you and your feline friend. On the other hand, if your cat purrs, raises its tail, leans forward, or blinks slowly and falls asleep when you kiss them, it is a sign that they like your kisses. Showing your cat affection the right way There are many ways to show your cat affection beyond kisses. One way cats show their affection is by looking at someone and slowly closing their eyes and opening them again. You can return this display of affection by getting on their level, meeting their gaze, and slowly blinking back at them. Interactive play is also a great way to bond. Another way to show your pet affection is through vocal cues. Cats have special meows, coos, or trills that they use with humans they are close to. If you imitate their sounds, they will understand it as a display of affection. Perhaps the best way to show your cat affection is to spend quality time together. Do cats understand and enjoy hugs Many cats hate to be hugged. They don't like being held against their will, and especially not in a firm fashion. When you pick up a cat and hug, they may feel trapped and vulnerable and want to find a place to get back to where they feel they are in control of their surroundings. Don’t take it personally—it is just that most cats prefer their own space and to only show us affection on their own terms. Is it okay to kiss or hug your cat? Each cat is unique. Some are more affectionate; some are less affectionate. That doesn't mean they don't love you. It’s just that some need more personal space than others. Instead of hugs and kisses, talk to them in a highpitched voice, look at them with a lovable look, and let them initiate interactions. It is all about understanding your feline, and respecting their space and boundaries.