Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Do cats understand kisses?

For HUMANS kissing is a common way to express affection or greet someone in many cultures around the world. However, in some cultures, kissing was not a regular practice before European colonization. 

In these cultures, kissing was introduced by Europeans and did not have the same significance as it does in other cultures. Kissing can be used to express a wide range of emotions, including love, gratitude, compassion, sympathy, joy, and sorrow.
Your cat understands your kiss as an act of allogrooming from another cat. - MikeB
Your cat understands your kiss as an act of allogrooming from another cat
Your cat understands your kiss as an act of allogrooming from another cat. Image: MikeB

It is an intimate exchange. It is a practice that was created by humans for humans. We don't know the origin. Anyway it is irrelevant. This is about humans.

When we kiss our cat they don't understand the action as a kiss per se. You've probably kissed your cat before during moments when there is emotional warmth between you. Your cat will have learned that the act of kissing is a sign of affection, a bit like stroking their head. 

Cats don't understand kisses per se in the way humans do as a deeply intimate action. But they understand the affection attached to it provided there is affection attached to it! And it has been done often. This teaches your cat what it means.

That's about it on cats understanding human kisses. Except for this afterthought:

Allogrooming versus kissing

Petting your cat and stroking him or her is very close to the human kiss from the cat's standpoint. They interpret is as their mother or a feline associate (friend) grooming them. When a cat grooms another cat (allogrooming) cats understand this as a physical sign of affection. It is bonding.
Allogrooming is almost a feline version of the human kiss. - MikeB
Cat allogrooming
Cat allogrooming. A feline version of the human kiss?! Image in the public domain.

Allogrooming means licking another cat. The tongue is involved as it is in French kissing! You can see the association.

The cat may even understand the human kiss on their head as a allogrooming from another cat. If that was the case, once again they'd regard it as a friendly act which is very similar to a peck on the cheek from a dear friend.

There is a big overlap here between cat allogrooming and human kisses 😎. 

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