Kittens tend to interact with their owners the same way they interact with other cats. Licking, which owners frequently refer to as kissing, is a common cat behavior that can be caused by a number of factors. In most cases, kissing is a sign of affection.
Kitten mothers display affection by licking and grooming their kittens. Kittens frequently adopt this behavior with their owners. If your kitten is healthy and there is no food on your hands, it's very likely she's kissing you to show affection.
Kittens lick and knead their mother's belly to signal that they want to nurse. If kittens are weaned too early, they might do the same thing to other kittens and to humans. If your kitten is very young, she could be licking you because she's hungry. Consult your veterinarian if your kitten was weaned very early. She might need supplemental formula.
Scent and Taste
Cats have a very strong sense of smell, and they frequently investigate unusual smells by licking the source. Your cat might lick you simply because she thinks your skin tastes good, because she's hungry, or because she's trying to detect the cause of a new smell. Kittens are especially likely to lick their owners when those people return home after being away for several hours.
Because kittens lick their mothers, they sometimes lick others when they are feeling submissive. If you've just yelled at your kitten, she might lick you to try to appease you. Many kittens continue licking well into adulthood, and highly submissive cats tend to lick more frequently. Rarely, this submissive behavior can become compulsive. If your cat licks herself or others constantly, she might be trying to alleviate anxiety. Consult your veterinarian.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Cats Who Suckle and Lick People
- What is My Cat Thinking?; Gwen Bailey
- Understanding Cat Behavior; Roger K. Tabor
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.