If your cat kisses you on the lips, it’s showing you affection. Cats aren’t always fulsome about expressing their feelings. For a cat to show this fondness requires a strong bond between feline and owner.
To imitate human behavior, cats kiss their owners on the lips. Your cat likely saw you kiss your partner, children, or another animal. Also, your cat may be reliving positive memories from being a kitten, or you could have lingering food or the smell of enticing food on your lips.
There are risks to cats kissing you on the lips as their mouths are breeding grounds for bacteria. Learn more about why your cat is kissing you, and decide whether you should engage in this behavior.
Why Does My Cat Kiss My Lips?
All cats express affection for their owners in different ways.
Some cats won’t hesitate to kiss you, while others prefer to keep a safe distance and kiss with their eyes. This process involves watching a human carefully and slowly, deliberately blinking.
Imitation of Human Owners
The most likely explanation is that your cat is imitating human behavior.
Cats are born mimics, so they often learn new skills and behaviors by copying their owners. If you kiss your partner or children, cats will be aware of this behavior and attempt to replicate the action.
It is not just humans that cats imitate, but other animals. If you have a dog, it’ll be more fulsome in its expression of affection, often involving kissing and licking your face.
Also, your cat could be imitating another feline in a multi-cat household. If one cat kisses you, others may attempt to do the same thing. No cat likes to feel that it’s missing out on a special bonding experience. Your cat may be concerned that failing to offer kisses will make you love it less than another cat.
Your cat will notice that kisses seem to please you. It’ll pick up on human emotions, detecting the difference between a smile and a scowl. Cats are less concerned with pleasing humans, but they like to show affection to those who treat them favorably.
Positive Memory Associations
Cats have long memories when it comes to pleasure and pain. If a cat has positive associations with kisses from when it was a kitten, it’ll be keen to relive them. Your cat likely remembers being kissed as a kitten.
Cast your mind back to your cat’s youngest days. Were you prone to picking up your kitten, showering it with kisses, petting, and treats? If so, the cat will want to repeat this from time to time. The difference is that adult and senior cats want to decide when affection is exchanged.
In this instance, your cat will use kisses sparingly, saving up such affection for when it wants attention the most. You may find that your cat attempts to gain your attention in more subtle ways.
Lingering Food Smells
The appetite of a cat is stimulated by scent. If your cat kisses you after you’ve eaten, it’s picking up on appealing smells. If your meal has piqued the cat’s curiosity, it’ll want to investigate the aroma more closely.
The likeliest food to inspire this reaction is meat or fish, as these are the core ingredients of cat food. Some food smells are more appealing than they taste. For example, cats love the smell of certain fruit, such as bananas, even though they can’t taste sweetness.
This habit can be corrected. Brush your teeth and wash your face after eating to neutralize the scent of your meal. If your cat is not picking up on smells, it won’t lick or kiss your face.
A cat attempting to kiss you while you’re eating a meal should be fed at the same time, ideally in a different room, to discourage this behavior.
Grooming is a significant sign of affection in cats. If a cat licks your mouth or face, it’s showing genuine love and affection for you.
If your cat grooms your face, it’s looking after you. When cats have bonded, they care for each other in this way. In its own special way, your cat is informing you that it has your best interests at heart.
Consider whether your cat smells something that you can’t. There’s no scientific evidence that cats can ‘sense’ human illness, but cats groom to hide smells that alert predators to their presence.
Your cat may be expressing dominance. When two felines live together, they’ll fall into a dominant and submissive dynamic. Unlike other animals, dominant cats perform the majority of the grooming.
Is it Safe to Kiss My Cat on the Lips?
There are risks associated with feline kisses. According to the latest scientific research, this behavior should be actively discouraged.
- The Journal of Medical Microbiology found 168 strains of bacteria in the mouths of 36 cats, but not all of these different types of bacteria were considered dangerous.
- Of 43 allergy sufferers profiled in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 37.5% experienced feline saliva reactions.
Also, cats can pass on zoonotic diseases through kissing, such as the following:
- Ringworm (tinea)
- Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)
- Bartonella henselae (cat scratch disease)
- Salmonella (salmonellosis)
Those most at risk include pregnant women, young children, and people with weak immune systems. If you’re immunocompromised, this form of affection should be avoided.
Instead of kissing your cat directly on the lips, give them a quick kiss on the head.
Why Do Cats Lick Their Lips After You Kiss Them?
A cat will instinctually lick its lips to clean and remove any lingering smell or taste. By removing the scent, it’s less at risk from predators. It’s no different from why cats groom their fur or bury their waste.
Cats kiss their owners on the lips to show affection due to curiosity over what you’ve been eating and memory associations from being a kitten. While cats clean themselves regularly, their mouths aren’t clean, so there are safer ways to show affection and bond with your cat.