If your cat kisses you on the lips, it’s showing affection for you. Cats are not always fulsome about expressing their feelings. For a cat to show this level of fondness requires a strong bond between feline and owner.
By kissing you on the lips, your cat will be imitating human behavior. Your cat will have seen you kiss your partner or children, or another animal licking your face. It may also be grooming you or reliving positive memories from kittenhood. Also, consider if you have lingering food smells and appealing tastes on your lips.
There are certain risks to a cat kissing you on the lips. Cats’ mouths can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Learn more about why your cat is kissing you, and decide whether you are happy with the behavior.
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Why Your Cat Gives Kisses on Lips
All cats express affection in different ways. Some cats will not hesitate to kiss you. Others prefer to keep a safe distance and kiss with their eyes. This means watching a human carefully and slowly, deliberately blinking.
Imitation of Human Owners
The likeliest explanation is that your cat is imitating human behavior. Cats are born mimics. They often learn new skills and behaviors by copying owners. If you kiss your partner or children, cats will replicate the action.
It is not just humans that cats imitate. They also imitate other animals. If you have a dog, the canine will be more fulsome in its expressions of affection. This will often involve kissing and licking your face.
Your cat could also be imitating another feline in a multi-cat household. If one cat kisses you, others may follow. No cat likes to feel it is missing out on a bonding experience. Your cat may be concerned that failing to offer kisses will make you love it less than a rival.
Your cat will notice that kisses please you. Cats pick up on human emotions, detecting the difference between a smile and a scowl. Cats are less concerned with pleasing humans, but they do like to show affection.
Positive Memory Associations
Cats have long memories when it comes to pleasure and pain. If your kitten has positive associations with kisses, it will be keen to relive them. It is likely that your cat 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, adult and senior cats want to choose when affection is exchanged.
In this instance, your cat will use kisses sparingly. It will save up such affection for when it wants attention the most. You may find that your cat attempts to gain your attention in other, subtler ways first.
Lingering Food Smells
The appetite of a cat is stimulated by scent. If your cat kisses you after you’ve eaten, it is picking up on appealing smells. If your meal has piqued the cat’s curiosity, it will want to share the aroma.
The likeliest food to inspire this reaction is meat or fish. These are the core ingredients of cat food. Some food smells are also more appealing than they taste. Cats love the smell of fruit, even though they can’t taste sweetness.
This habit can be broken if it becomes problematic. Brush your teeth and wash your face after eating. This will 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 should be fed at the same time, ideally in a different room.
Grooming is a significant sign of affection. If the lick is to the mouth or face, your cat is showing genuine love and affection for you.
If your cat grooms your face, it is looking after you. When cats have bonded, they look out for each other in this way. In its own way, your cat is informing you that it has your best interests at heart.
Consider whether your cat smells something you do not. There is no scientific evidence that cats can ‘sense’ human illness. Cats groom to hide smells that alert predators to their presence, though. Your cat could be trying to protect you from any harm.
However, your cat may be expressing dominance. When two felines live together, they will fall into a dominant and submissive dynamic. Unlike other animals, dominant cats do 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 discouraged.
- The Journal of Medical Microbiology found 168 strains of bacteria in the mouths of 36 cats. Not all of these bacteria were dangerous.
- Of 43 allergy sufferers profiled in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 37.5% experienced feline saliva reactions.
Cats can also pass on zoonotic diseases through kissing. Examples include:
Cats only kiss their owners on the lips to show affection, due to curiosity over what you’ve been eating, and due to memory associations from being a kitten. While cats are clean animals, their mouths aren’t clean. There may be safer ways to show affection and build your bond.