Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. August 7, 2018
Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses?

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There are many myths around cats, particularly in how they interact with humans. Many of them are to do with how appropriate they are as companion animals, especially when compared with other domestic animals such as dogs. Perhaps the greatest myth is that dogs are affectionate creatures which express love towards their human guardians, while cats are selfish beings which only see humans as food dispensers. Unless their cat has socialization issues, people with cats in their home know this to be untrue.

Cats can be incredibly affectionate and sociable with their human companions. However, the way they express their affection will depend on the individual cat. Also, feline behavior is continually studied by ethologists, so our understanding of how they communicate is still developing. Many people wonder if cats like hugs and kisses, especially as refusing them might imply they don't have a strong bond. AnimalWised looks into showing affection towards cats to help us understand it better.

You may also be interested in: Do Cats Like to Be Kissed?

Do cats like to be kissed?

Kissing is a very common form of affection between humans. In some cultures it is a standard greeting even with people you don't know well. For many cat owners, kissing is a way they can show their deep love for their feline friend. However, cats do not always see it this way. For them, the movement of a nurturing kiss can seem aggressive.

Feline behavioral experts such as Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman believe cats have a different way to express trust in their owners[1]. While cats will stare at you or another animal with wide eyes when feeling threatened, they do the opposite when they want to convey trust. They lower their eyelids and blink slowly to show they are not threatened. Weitzman goes further to say that if humans return this gesture, they are doing the same to the cat.

However, whether a cat will tolerate a kiss will depend on the individuals involved. Some cats may let a kiss be placed upon them without feeling like their personal space is being invaded. As cats are much smaller than humans, a human coming down to kiss them can seem imposing. A cat may be more likely to receive a kiss when they are already settled close to the person's head. It is also important to remember not to kiss a cat directly on the mouth. Not only will they likely not enjoy it, but it can lead to the spread of diseases.

Do cats like to be hugged?

Cats are domesticated animals and they build up relationships with their owners over time. However, it is possible for the trust in a relationship to be lost. You need to maintain positive behaviors and provide an enriched environment for the cat to be comfortable. There are many behaviors which are not well tolerated by different cats. Some don't mind being picked up, while others will not like it at all. Their bellies are very vulnerable, so few will let themselves be touched in this area. This is usually because these actions make them feel threatened.

When hugging a cat or clasping them tightly, you might be trying to say ‘I love you’, but how they interpret it might be that you are trying to make them vulnerable. Cats do not like to feel restricted and some cats hate to be hugged and kissed for this reason. Instead they like to choose when displays of affection are appropriate. This is why hugging a cat is usually only possible when the cat comes to the human. Even at this point, the ‘hug’ would be a light embrace or having the cat nuzzle close. Cats who do like to be picked up may be held close and this can represent a form of hug.

Throughout any kissing or hugging situation with a cat, it is important to read their body language. If they are not enjoying the interaction, they will usually show it by trying to escape, clawing or biting. If you repeatedly try to force these interactions, they may become wary of you in general and not enjoy spending time with you.

Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses? - Do cats like to be hugged?

How do cats say ‘I love you’?

As stated previously, cats have their own personalities. This means their versions of kissing and hugging will also be particular to them. Some will bite you as a sign of aggression while others might do it in a way which implies they think of you as family. Licking, smelling, purring and playing all usually intimate that they love and trust you. Licking is perhaps the one which most resembles a human kiss. It is likely they love you like family, licking you to groom you and show you are close.

When cats approach you, they often rub their head against you or will even scratch their claws on your trousers. This is a sign of affection, but there is another aspect to it which is interesting. Cats have glands on their face and paws which secrete pheromones. When they rub against you like this they are marking you and signalling to other cats and animals that you belong to them.

Cats will also use their tail to show you how they feel about a situation. If they have their tail up and flicking slightly, it usually indicates they are receptive to your affection. If they flatten their ears, hiss or struggle to get away, then you need to step back and give them space.

Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses? - How do cats say ‘I love you’?

What do cats like?

Cats have their own ways of telling you they love you, but they also have specific ways they like to be shown affection. There are certain areas on a cat they like to be touched more than others. These include on their back, under their chin, behind the ears and on the head. Their bellies and paws are usually forbidden areas as they are too sensitive.

These cats are very curious and they really enjoy watching things. The simple way they look at you might be a sign of close affection. However, they will not like to be stared at directly in the eyes. They often take this as being a sign of threat. In general, they like company and will spend time sitting on your lap or letting you pet them.

If you want to show your cat affection, you need to begin by ensuring their well-being. This means providing adequate nutrition, lots of fresh water and a stress-free environment. When you do this, they will know to trust you more and will be more likely to let you show them affection. Whether this is via a kiss or hug depends on your cat.

Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses? - What do cats like?

If you want to read similar articles to Do Cats Like Hugs and Kisses?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.


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