Dog Kisses And Cat Purrs: Why Do They Do It, And What Do These Gestures Really Mean?

All good pet owners want three basic things: to keep their dogs and cats happy, healthy, and active. We keep an eye out for any sign that might tell otherwise, and seek out expert advice to get little Fido or Princess back in tip-top shape. Typically, dog kisses or the constant purring of a cat is viewed as a good sign. And generally, that’s the case. But it’s possible your beloved, furry best friend is trying to tell you more.

Let’s start with cats.

Cat Purrs 

Whether you love cats or would prefer to admire them from a distance, the sound of one purring generally elicits thoughts of happiness and contentment. And that’s true! Just like us humans, cats find true pleasure in everyday life, and aren’t ashamed to let it be known. Whether it’s bathing in the sun or cuddling up with their favorite human, cats have their own happy place, and purring is a good sign they’ve found it.

But what else could that soft rumbling be trying to tell us?

Hungry for Food and Attention

Notably, there are two main reasons that cats purr: social interaction and the need to feed. Purring for interaction and food goes all the way back to when your cat was first a newborn kitten. Born blind, kittens would have a difficult time finding their mother for food or attention without some way to alert her when they need attention. This is where purring comes in. You’ve likely already noticed the loud rumbling coming from your cat when you’re stroking their back, but pay attention when it’s feeding time. Odds are, they’ll be purring up a storm!


Think back to a time when nerves and anxiety were simply too much to keep in. How did you try to relieve that stress? Did you sigh, scream, laugh, or cry? A physical release of stress is vital to more than just us humans, and your cat may be purring as a way to calm themselves down. Experts believe that the vibration of the purr helps to soothe a cat’s body, similar to how a baby might be soothed by gently rubbing a hand across their back.

If you’re unsure if your cat’s purring is to relieve anxiety, look at what’s going on around them. Trips to the vet, new animals in their home, or maybe your niece who loves kitties a bit too much might send your cat into an anxious purr.

Here are a few physical signs you can look out for: this type of purr is generally a higher pitch, may be accompanied by panting, a stiff tail, and/or showing teeth.


Similar to purring as an attempt to relieve anxiety, research suggests that the vibration of a cat’s purr has healing effects through their body. This phenomenon is still being studied, but scientists believe there is a consistency in the frequency of a cat’s purr to certain bodily ailments.

Dog Kisses 

Like the purring of a cat, the cute little kisses — or sometimes big, sloppy licks — we get from our dogs may tell us more than we initially think.

It’s in their DNA

Experts say dog kisses go back thousands of years before dogs were domesticated pets. And like a newborn kitten purring for their mother, newborn pups used kisses prior to feeding. Now that we humans have inserted ourselves into a caretaking role for new puppies and old dogs alike, we’re lucky enough to receive plenty of kisses from our beloved pooches.


In the same vein, dogs acting in the caretaker role dote kisses upon their pups, other dogs, and even us! If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see your long-time, furry best friend meet a newborn baby, you’ve likely seen the tender, motherly kisses they dote upon the child. 

The same concept applies to us older humans, too. Has your dog ever offered you free cuddles and kisses when you’re sick or feeling sad? This is your dog’s way of telling you they care for you as much as you do for them!

Paying Respects 

Social cues are vital to a dog’s way of life. Whatever the number of their pack, and whether a pack of dogs or humans, it’s important for dogs to establish a status quo. Ranking is an innate system for dogs, and licking is a way for those “lower” in the pack to pay respects to those sitting a little “higher” in the rankings.

Next time your dog kisses you, try kissing them back. It might surprise you to find how adamant they are to be the ones giving the kisses.

They Know We Like Dog Kisses

It may sound simple, but dogs are smart enough to pick up on how we communicate.The more we smile and praise them as they kiss us, the more they want to lick, and lick, and lick! Positive feedback, whether a simple, “Who’s a good boy?” or an offering of a treat in return for a kiss, dogs are quick to pick up on what makes us happy.

They Want Attention

Just as dogs are eager to receive that praise and affection, they may kiss us when it’s time for some much-needed attention. Think back to a time you were so bored, you just had to poke and nudge your best friend until they paid attention to you. While humans haven’t quite adapted to the need for belly rubs, your dog may be kissing you to get just that!

They Like How We Taste  

The last tidbit we’ll leave off on is this: Your dog might simply like the way you taste! Experts claim the salt in our skin is appealing to our beloved pooches, but maybe you switched lotions or perfumes, or you’ve just had a tasty snack!

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why our cats purr and our dogs kiss us. As loving owners, or concerned pet parents, having an understanding of what our pets are trying to communicate is vital to keeping them happy, healthy, and active. If you have a concern, or are unsure of a certain behavior in your pet, contact the Acoma Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment today!

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