Cats are independent and tend to be more aloof than dogs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. In two of our previous blogs, we told you how to spot the 10 signs show your dog loves you, so what about your household’s other four-legged friend?
Cats express affection differently. Some show it by not biting, while others show it by nipping your hand when you’re playing. They’re harder to figure out than dogs: they don’t wag their tail or jump on your legs when you walk through the door. In this blog, we’re going to teach you how to spot behaviors that shows your cat loves you.
1. Headbutting you
When a cat willingly rubs its face against you, it isn’t just scratching itself. A cat’s scent glands are in its paws, mouths and cheeks. By rubbing against you, a cat is, essentially, marking you as its own property.
Headbutting is also a form of communication cats do to show affection for others, says pet behavior researcher Gayle Hickman. By rubbing their head against you, a cat is showing you that they consider you to be a friend.
If your cat uses its paws to push into your sweater or jeans, it isn’t trying to destroy your clothing or hurt you with its claws.
Kneading, making biscuits, or pawing at you; whatever you call it, the rhythmic moving of your cat’s front paws against you is the earliest form of affection a cat learns, along with grooming. Nursing kittens knead their mother’s belly to stimulate the flow of milk. If your cat kneads against you, it is the ultimate sign of affection, comfort and trust. It means they see you as their mother, or, at least, part of the family.
Cats learn how to groom at a very young age – their mother teaches them while they are nursing and it’s more than a hygienic routine. Grooming is how cats show love to other animals. Grooming also comforts your cat and allows them to leave their scent on you.
Pam Johnson-Bennett, an author of feline behavior guides, says that if your cat is grooming you, it means they see you as their favorite feline friend. You shouldn’t be grossed out by their sandpaper tongue, but instead cherish the compliment.
Cats don’t meow at other cats. They will yowl as a way to warn other felines, but meowing is saved exclusively for humans. Your cat can meow at you for many reasons, including begging for food or attention, asking to be let inside or outside, or greet you, according to the ASPCA.
Chances are, if your cat is vocal around you, it means they rely on you to take care of them and trust you to get it done. Sometimes, cats will just want to talk to you too.
5. A Tail’s Tale
Just like how your dog’s tail is a way to read its emotions, your cat’s tail has a lot to say. If your cat greets you with a tail shaped like a question mark, they are happy to see you. National Geographic says a straight up tail with a hooked tip is a friendly greeting and your cat’s way of telling the room “I approve of you.”
If your cat’s tail is in a low or neutral position, that means your cat is relaxed around you.
6. Leaving You Gifts
Cats are natural hunters and they recognize that you are not. Live Science says if your feline leaves you “gifts” of dead mice or birds, they could be trying to teach you how to hunt and fend for yourself in the wild. This habit is especially prevalent in females. This is her instinctive role of being a mother and a teacher.
Don’t chastise your pet too harshly for this behavior – it’s their way of taking care of you and making sure you have food to eat.
Indoor cats can show this behavior with toys too. If your cat ever leaves discarded toys outside of your door at night, it’s a mix of them wanting your attention and of them presenting you with the labor of their “hunt.”
7. The Slow Blink
Known also as the “cat kiss,” a slow blink is one of your cat’s most telling ways of showing affection. If they are staring at you and slowing closes and reopens their eyes, it means they love you.
Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, encourages people to slow blink back at their cats to let them know that you love them too. This strengthens your bond with your pet, as you are using a language they understand. If they respond to your slow blink with a kiss of their own, you’ll know they love you too.
8. Nighttime Cuddles
Sometimes, cats don’t want you to know how much they care about you. Other times, you’re just asleep when they’re awake. Cats are the most active between dusk and dawn and sleep for 15 hours a day, on average. They enjoy coming into your room (or breaking into your room) at night to check on you, make sure you’re still there and to enjoy quiet and warm cuddles while taking in your familiar scent.
9. Sulks After Long Trips
If your cat sulks after you’re away for a long time and doesn’t let you pet them, they are expressing their displeasure at you being gone, not you being back! They missed you and were lonely without you. Some cats express this with excitement, while others sulk just out of arm’s reach.
Cats are creatures of habit, meaning it’s a habit for them to see you at home or to greet you after you’re done with work. You not being there throws off their whole routine. And when you leave, it becomes a habit to them to not have you there.
If they are sulking upon your return, but are staying in the same room as you, they are showing their dependence and displeasure of the sudden change in one move. Don’t worry, your cat will start acting like its old self again in no time. Just be sure to give your kitty the space it wants, while still letting it know you care.
10. Being In The Same Room
If your cat doesn’t like strangers and hides whenever someone they don’t know is in their space, but is out and lounging around the room with you, it shows a level of comfort and affection that is exclusive to you. If this is the case, it shows that your cat values your company.
If they are always out of arm’s reach and refuse to come over or meow if you try to pet them, that is not a sign of disdain. Not all cats are lap cats. Some cats are more independent than others just prefer to enjoy your company in silence and at a distance. Modern Cat calls these pets “Nearby Cats,” as they love to be just out of reach while still being in the same room. Just because they are reserved doesn’t mean they love you any less.
Cats are harder animals to read than dogs, but if you know what to look for, you can tell how your cat truly feels about you. Their signs of affection can be as little as them following you around the house or as big as them cuddling up on your lap and purring.
Show them you love them back by making sure they are healthy and giving them the longest and most comfortable life possible. We know your cat may not appreciate a trip to the vet while it’s happening, but getting it feeling like its best self is the greatest showing of love you can give. Contact us at Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson to set up your annual checkup to ensure kitty is happy and healthy.