Skip to Content

Why is my cat smelling my lips?

Cats have a strong sense of smell and use it to gather information about their environment. When a cat smells your lips, it is likely trying to get more information about you. There are a few common reasons why a cat might be interested in the scent of your lips and mouth.

Gathering Information About You

A cat’s sense of smell is very important to them. Their sense of smell is 14 times stronger than humans. When your cat smells your lips, they are gathering information about your identity, what you have been eating, and even your emotional state. Your lips and mouth have very unique scents.

Cats have an organ called the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ. This organ is located on the roof of their mouth behind their teeth. It detects pheromones and other chemical cues that provide a wealth of information to your cat. When your cat touches its nose to your lips, it is transferring scent molecules to this special organ.

Some of the information your cat may gather from smelling your lips includes:

  • Your unique scent that identifies you
  • What you’ve been eating recently
  • Chemicals that indicate your mood
  • Scents from your grooming habits

Gathering all this information helps your cat feel connected to you and safe in your home environment. Smelling your lips is a way for it to keep updating itself on you and your activities.

Affection and Bonding

Another reason your cat may smell your lips is as a gesture of affection. Cats use scent as a way to identify and build bonds with things they like. Your unique lip scent helps your cat recognize you as someone it cares about.

When your cat presses its nose to your lips, it may be trying to leave its own scent there and mix it with yours. This mingling of scents is a way cats claim things and show affection. Your cat is picking up your scent and adding its own to show you belong to each other.

Some other signs your cat may smell your lips as a sign of affection include:

  • Purring while sniffing you
  • Gently rubbing its face on you
  • Slow blinking eyes
  • A relaxed or curled body posture

If your cat smells your lips and then moves on, it is likely just gathering information. But if your cat lingers, rubs, purrs, and seems calm and content, it is probably a sign of affection and bonding.

Interest in Food or Cosmetics

Your lips and mouth often have traces of food, drinks, and cosmetics on them. Your cat’s powerful sense of smell can easily pick up these scents. If you have recently eaten, drank something, or applied lipstick or chapstick, your cat may be interested in smelling the aroma left behind.

Cats use their sense of smell to evaluate things that might be food or edible. If your cat has an interest in human food or cosmetics, it may be tempted to sniff your lips to explore any intriguing smells. This is especially true for cats that have a habit of stealing human food when they can.

If your cat tries to lick or even nibble your lips, it likely wants to taste whatever it is smelling. Make sure not to indulge this behavior, as human food and cosmetics can be harmful if consumed by cats. Redirect your cat’s attention with an appropriate toy or treat when it gets too interested in your lip scents.

Dental or Mouth Problems

In some cases, persistent lip smelling may be a sign your cat is detecting an issue inside your mouth. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell, and can sometimes pick up on dental disease, infections, and other health problems.

Some signs your cat may be smelling a dental or mouth issue include:

  • Focusing on one particular spot
  • Sniffing persistently or intently
  • Nose wrinkled or posture showing distaste

If your cat reacts this way, get your mouth checked by a dentist. Cats can sometimes smell an abscess, gum disease, or issues like oral cancer very early. Pay attention to your cat’s signals. Dental disease can also cause cats to drool excessively or paw at their mouth.

How to Discourage This Behavior

Most of the time, letting your cat casually smell your lips is harmless. But excessive lip smelling or licking can be bothersome. Here are some tips to discourage the behavior:

  • Gently push your cat away and say “no” when it tries to smell your lips.
  • Redirect by offering a toy or treat to distract your cat.
  • Avoid wearing cosmetics and fragrances that seem to attract your cat.
  • Clean your lips so they don’t smell like food.
  • Use aversives like a loud noise or pressurized air to startle your cat away.
  • Trim your cat’s nails so it can’t grasp your face.
  • Shut your cat out of the room if it compulsively tries to smell you.

With consistent redirection and “no” signals, your cat will learn your lips are not to be smelled. But do pay attention in case excessive sniffing behavior is a sign of a dental issue.

Key Takeaways

Some main reasons cats may smell human lips include:

  • Gathering information about identity, food, and moods
  • Showing affection and bonding
  • Interest in food, drinks, or cosmetics on the lips
  • Detecting dental problems or mouth infections

This lip smelling behavior is mostly natural cat curiosity. Make sure to clean your lips so they don’t smell tasty. Gently discourage your cat from excessive sniffing. But do pay attention just in case it is reacting to a dental health issue it can smell. With some training and redirection, you can curb annoying lip smelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cat touch its nose to my lips?

Your cat is likely touching its nose to your lips to pick up scents. This transfers scent molecules to your cat’s vomeronasal organ so it can gather information. Cats may do this to recognize your identity, check for food smells, or as a sign of affection.

Is it bad for cats to smell human mouths?

Occasional lip and mouth smelling is harmless. But you should try to discourage excessive sniffing or licking, as human saliva and any food or cosmetics can be unhealthy if ingested by cats. Redirect your cat if it becomes too obsessed.

What does it mean when my cat presses its nose to my face?

Nose-to-face contact is a friendly cat greeting. Your cat is gathering your scent, marking you with its own scent, and showing affection. Slow blinks, purring, and rubbing typically accompany this gesture. It means your cat feels safe and connected with you.

Why does my cat lick my lips?

Licking your lips is a bit more invasive than just smelling. Your cat may lick if it is very attracted to a food or cosmetic scent. It is trying to taste it. Make sure to stop this behavior and not let your cat ingest anything.

Should I be worried if my cat keeps smelling my mouth?

Frequent or insistent smelling focused on one spot may indicate a dental health issue or infection. See your dentist if your cat fixates on smelling one particular tooth or area. Cats can sometimes detect problems before humans can.


It’s natural for cats to be attracted to the scent of human lips. Through smelling, cats gather information, show affection, and explore interesting smells. While occasional lip smelling is fine, discourage excessive sniffing or licking. Pay attention to any obsessive smelling, as your cat may be detecting a dental issue it considers worrisome. With training and dental care, you can have a happy cat without a nose constantly in your face.