While cats may appear self-centered and fickle, they can be extremely affectionate and loyal to those they care about. Cats express their affection for you in various ways, such as head ‘bunting,’ kneading, and slow blinks.
They moon you
When cats love you, they will stick their little booties in your face. The meaning is both repulsive and endearing. Emily Parker of Catological said, “This is especially true if your cat is performing the elevator butt pose (lowered chest and raised rear end with tail up high).”
She continued, “In this position, your furball has put herself in a vulnerable position and is allowing you to smell her … if you wish. The act of smelling is a form of communication for cats and this is her way of saying ‘Let’s talk.’”
They reveal their bellies.
The elusive belly reveal. According to Melanie Deisz of Meowtel, a cat-sitting service, “Some cats will show you their belly, which means they trust you. But oftentimes it could be a very tempting trap so approach bellies with caution!”
Even if they’re showing their big ol’ bellies to you, some cats don’t like getting belly “scritches.” I know; it’s perplexing and appears to be sending mixed signals. But, take Deisz’s advice, and you’ll be scratch-free in no time!
Their tails are ‘emotional barometers’
Take a look at your cat’s tail if you’re ever unsure how they’re feeling. Your cat could be expressing annoyance, happiness, fear, or other emotions based on the shape it’s taking and how it’s moving. A wagging tail, for example, usually indicates that they are annoyed or angry.
A tucked tail between their legs, just like a dog’s, could indicate that they’re scared. However, when it comes to loving behaviors, a cat wrapping its tail around its human legs indicates affection. An upright tail with a slight curve at the end can also be used to tell a love story (get it?)
Their tails vibrate
Karen Reese, the animal behavior manager at Operation Kindness, says, “Cats that love you will put their tail straight up in the air with a hook on the end (like a candy cane).” She continued, “They may vibrate their tail when they see you indicating their excitement.”
Remember how I mentioned that cats’ tails are “emotional barometers”? This is an excellent illustration of the various cat tail behaviors that indicate a cat’s mood. According to a report published in Catological in April 2019, tail vibrations are not the same as tail wagging. Usually, tail wags indicate that they are angry.
They give you ‘gifts.’
According to Emily Parker of Catological, “outdoor cats may bring their owners clothes, shoes, sponges, leaves, flowers, and pretty much anything they can find and transport.” In addition, an outdoor cat may occasionally bring you a small dead animal as a gift. So naturally, your cat will be perplexed if you get angry with them because they interpret it as bringing you a present.
It’s best to keep your cat indoors if you’re worried about vermin. (It’s also safer for the cats!) “Indoor cats may pick things out of the laundry or stuffed animals from around the house and bring them to you,” says Parker. “Just remember … it’s the thought that counts.”
They bite you — but it’s not what you think!
If your initial reaction is, “Wait, what?” Is biting a sign of love? We can’t say we blame you. It may seem unlikely that an animal bite would be affectionate, but you’d be surprised. “If your cat is giving you small bites, they may actually be saying that they love you,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM. “The bites are usually more playful and do not hurt.”
That is a bite of hatred, not a bite of love, if your cat is biting you HARD and doing other behaviors that indicate anger, such as hissing, ears back, growling, and so on. If your cat is enraged, step back!
They puff out their tummies
As for this point, I’m not entirely certain, but my cat does this while making her vibrating tail move. Dr. Ochoa told me, “I have seen them do this when they are marking their territory.” She continued, “I would think that (she) is marking you as (hers).”
I reason that when you combine a vibrating tail with a puffy tummy, you get a happy, loving cat. So why would she “mark me as her territory” if she is not in love with me? Right?
They blink slowly at you
A cat’s way of saying “I love you” is to stare deeply into your eyes and blink slowly. It may appear strange, but it’s a genuine act of cat kindness. “Cats take blink-less stares as a challenge whereas slow blinks is a sign of affection,” says Melanie Deisz of Meowtel, a cat-sitting service.
She went on, “If you want to tell a particularly difficult cat that you can be trusted, try slow blinking. Sometimes it works! Other times, they’ll turn around and walk away.” Don’t worry if the slow blinks don’t work. It can take some time for cats to get used to you.
Cats will sometimes throw themselves down at your feet and start rocking and rolling when they are happy to see you! According to Amy Shojai of The Spruce Pets, they’re having a tantrum when kids do this. But it’s all about love when cats do this.
Shojai writes, “This is a loving greeting and means they want your attention, especially if they show you their belly.” In the previous paragraph, we discussed how that elusive belly reveal could be a sign of affection. If you’re trying to pet the belly, however, proceed with caution.
They scratch areas associated with you
Scratching serves various purposes for cats, including removing the dead outer layers of their claws, stretching their bodies and feet, and visually and olfactorily marking their territory. Therefore, pay attention to where your cat scratches, keeping this last point in mind.
They may be leaving visual and scented marks of ownership on areas associated with you if they scratch in those areas. These scratches on the couch prove that you are THEIR human, not YOUR cat. Isn’t it interesting how cats’ love is changing the script on us?
They headbutt you (aka ‘head bunt’)
“Head butting” is a common way that cats show affection to their owners. Animal behaviorists call this behavior “head bunting.” According to Dawn LaFontaine of retailer Cat in the Box, “head bunting refers to a range of behaviors that includes anything from a gentle pressing of the cat’s head against yours, to a rough ‘bonk.’”
LaFontaine stated, “There are temporal glands on a cat’s head and these are what are being deployed in a head bunt.” She added, “The scent glands secrete a fatty substance that can be transferred from the cat to other objects, cats, and people, and when a cat is head bunting, she is transferring her scent to you.”
They lick you
Layla Morgan Wilde, cat expert and founder of Cat Wisdom 101, says, “It’s the height of love or at least acceptance to groom their human by licking, nibbling skin, hair or their caregiver’s clothing,” She added, “This spreads a familiar group scent making the human part of the kitty tribe.”
Cats spend a significant portion of their days grooming themselves with their sandpaper-like tongues. So you should be grateful that your cat wants to include you in this sacred ceremony.
They play with you
Cats enjoy doing things for fun, just like we do when watching TV or practicing our hobbies. Playing is at the top of their priority list. What makes it even better for them is that they can play with a friend (e.g., YOU or another beloved human).
Shojai, in The Spruce Pets, wrote, “Some cats may actually control the interaction by moving just out of reach so you are forced to come to them and start playing.” That’s just plain devious. So fluffy appears to be a little smarter than you thought, huh?
They follow you
Laura Moss of Mother Nature Network writes, “If your feline friend follows you from room to room, jumps onto tables and counters to be near you, and always seems to be right where you step, she clearly enjoys your company.”
They’re more likely to be underfoot as feeding time approaches. So that’s why Fluffy follows you into the bathroom every time! They want to be by your side at all times, even when you’re on the porcelain throne at your most vulnerable.
They hug you — with their tails
Cat’s tails are emotional barometers, so this is relevant. The firm force that is frequently used to help cats maintain their balance can indicate approval and ownership. When a cat brushes up against a human and wraps its tail around them, this is how it is expressed.
Cats do this move to tell the world, “Yes, this is my human,” says an article on PetMD. So as I was taking my cat to the vet for her annual checkup, I was jealous to see her wrap her tail around the vet’s leg because that article that I had just read mentioned something similar to my own cat.
They spread out
If your pet is relaxed and happy in your presence, he or she may stretch out and lounge all day! This is undeniably reassuring. If a cat doesn’t feel safe and secure around you, he or she may hide or hiss until you leave.
Reading a book about radical feminist theory on my bed while my cat, Zoe, stretches out next to me is one of my favorite pastimes. My presence, as well as my pro-woman selection of literature, must reassure her. (At Meowingtons University, she majored in critical gender studies.)
They knead you
The concept of “kneading” may appear strange to feline-unaware people. This is when cats rhythmically push their paws into blankets, pillows, other cats, and even YOU. You’ve probably done this before when making bread.
According to a PetMD article, “If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back.” Unfortunately, humans may experience pain as a result of this adorable behavior. Place a blanket between you and your cat’s claws to avoid scratches.
They sleep next to you
Cats sleep 12 to 16 hours per day, in case you hadn’t noticed. “Since they are most vulnerable while sleeping,” writes Shojai in The Spruce Pets, “the place your cat chooses to snooze must be a secure and trusted location.”
It’s possible that sleeping by their human’s side will provide them with the safe and secure environment they seek! Consider this: You’re a big, warm, cuddly buddy for your kitty to lean on. They may sleep on your lap while watching movies or on your bed while you get some beauty rest.
They ‘talk’ to you
Cats communicate with humans by meowing. Cats, in particular, enjoy giving you a little thrill. In Cole and Marmalade, Modi Ramos writes that a trill is “a sound that a cat makes when they are content, and it often is used as their ‘greeting’ to the humans that they admire.”
It sounds like a chirping sound to me, and it’s adorable. Cats, it’s been said, don’t really meow at other cats. Instead, they’ll save other sounds for their feline friends, such as hissing if they don’t get along…
They rub their cheeks on you
Cats express their affection by “dancing cheek to cheek,” or rubbing their cheeks against yours. In Catster, Marilyn Krieger writes, “Kitties have scent glands on their cheeks that produce pheromones.” She added, “In addition to showing their favorite people trust and affection, felines mark ownership through the behavior and mingle their scents with those they are attached to.”
Head bunting, also known as head butting, is similar behavior. Finally, you can invite cats to be friends by holding out an index finger or a hand for them to sniff. Accepting cats may rub their cheeks on your hand to show their gratitude.
They hang out with you
Marilyn Krieger in Catster writes, “Felines like being around those they feel an affinity for. Your special kitty might be relaxing near you or napping on your lap,” She continued, “She might position herself so that she touches you — her back may be against your leg or she reaches out and pats you with a paw.”
No matter how underwhelming your cat’s love might be, they’ll always want to be around you. Pawing or sitting next to you may be their only intention. They want to be around people with whom they have a strong bond, such as YOU or another family member who may look after them.
They sit on you
A cat may sit on you for two reasons: to rest and/or spend time in a place that gives the cat a sense of security and well-being. Cats also like to sit on laps because of the warmth they provide. They like to sleep for 12-16 hours, and the ideal amount of beauty rest is nappy and warm.
According to a post on Cat Facts for Kids, “Like most … busy pe(ople) you also perhaps stay out of your home … most of the time. Wh(en) you finally get back to your house, your furry buddy likes to adore you, by sitting on you or sleeping on your lap.”
They sleep on your clothes
According to an article in Pets4Homes, “cats find comfort and familiarity in scents that they associate with their territory, and things that they like and that makes them happy. This includes, of course, the scent of you as their person, and clothes that you have worn will be imbued with your own distinct scent.”
Place a piece of your clothing on the cat bed if you want a cat to use the $50 cat bed you bought for them (but never used). (Make sure it’s one you don’t mind being covered in cat hair!) The kitty in question may climb into that cat bed!
They rub against your legs
This is similar to the behavior described above, in which cats hug humans with their tails. In addition, cats are known for rubbing their cheeks on humans and bunting humans to show affection. Cats also rub against their owners’ legs to express their affection.
Dr. Karen Becker writes in Healthy Pets via Mercola.com, “rubbing against another creature is how cats show affection. If your kitty rubs up against your leg … he’s putting his scent on you as a way of claiming you as his own.”
They greet you when you get home
Melanie Deisz of Meowtel says, “The easiest way to know that your cat loves you is if they’re excited to see you after you’ve been out of the house — meaning minutes or hours. Cats show their excitement by chatting with/at/towards you upon your arrival.”
While you might expect this is simply a dog’s behavior, it is, in fact, a feline greeting as well. Your cat is telling you that they’re ecstatic to see you because you’re the only person they have in the whole wide world.
Purring is a sign of happiness, and you don’t have to be a cat expert to recognize it. Shojai writes in The Spruce Pets, “You’ll often hear this rumbling, vibrating noise while you are petting your cat. Purrs can also mean your cat is upset but it’s not as common.”
You’ve never heard a cat purr, have you? In that case, it sounds like a small engine that drives the whole cat all over the place with excitement. But, unfortunately, those purrs that Shojai mentioned are upset purrs rather than happy purrs.
Pee around the house
It can be aggravating to return home to find your cat peeing all over the house. After all, cat urine doesn’t have an enjoyable odor. So this is your little cat’s way of declaring its home, as disgusting as it is.
Cats mark their territory by urinating in an area, creating a line demarcating their territory, so other cats know not to cross that line. Behavior opposite to this means your cat feels safe here and is unlikely to try to escape.
Stay near you when you’re sick
It may be that your cat loves you, and they stay around when you’re sick because of that. When you’re sick, you are especially vulnerable to the flu. When they’re sick, cats prefer to be near their owners.
They can detect illness much faster than you can. So cats showing up near you during your sick days shows that they care about you and are trying to help you in any way they can – even if it’s just a cuddle to warm you up.
Rub their paws against your hands
As we’ve all learned, Cats enjoy leaving scents around the house, particularly with their scent glands and pee. Gently rubbing their paws against your hands is another affectionate way of marking their scent.
Like their scent gland and urine, a cat’s paws have glands that secrete a distinct scent. When cats do that, it’s the cutest thing ever, and it can also be very relaxing for some people. Rubbing their paws isn’t exactly strange, but it is the purest expression of love for their owner or someone they care about.
They make gurgling sounds
A high-pitched voice, also known as gurgling, is possessed by some cats. Another cute way to show they care is to make this sound. If your cat has never done this before, or if you’re a new cat owner, you might find this strange. It may take some time for the cat to warm up to you and allow you to hear their side of the story.
This tone is slightly different than the standard meowing tone and indicates that your cat is excited. If your cat frequently gurgles, this is a sign that you are providing proper care and keeping them happy.
Stays near you when you have guests over
Cats can be egotistical at times, but they also have a jealous streak. This is especially true when there are new people present, such as when you have guests over. If you have visitors, your cat will usually stick close to you, act as a bodyguard, and keep an eye on them.
Your kitty’s cute protective side comes out in this situation. It’s a peculiar but endearing way of expressing their affection for you. When your cat refuses to leave your sight when you’re sitting with new people, it’ll be annoying at first, but you’ll get used to it. Soon, you’ll be able to boast to your guests that a four-legged fur animal loves you more than any other human.
Gets jealous around new cats
Prepare yourself for some extra stubbornness – or affection – from your more senior resident feline if you plan to pet another cat in your house. Cats are prone to jealousy when you introduce new people to the household, but they can also be envious of other cats or pets to whom you may show affection.
Your cat will become more attached to you and will most likely act like a spoiled brat in front of the new pet. Even if your cat is discreet in how they do it, this is the most obvious sign of jealousy. Jealousy-based behaviors are the most visible sign that they adore you and despise seeing you share your time and affection with other animals. When you think about it, it’s both funny and cute.
They jump around
Cats love jumping from great heights and running as fast as they can in loops, and this is the subject of some of the most popular YouTube videos ever. You might be concerned that these behaviors are potentially dangerous for your cat, but don’t be concerned if your cat does this frequently in front of you.
They are flaunting their skills. They want you to see how swift and balanced they are so that you can admire their agility. When a cat specifically seeks praise for this behavior from you, they clearly adore you and desire your approval. The more affirmation you give them for this, the more likely they will repeat it so you can see their talent.
They spy on you through the window
You may discover your cat spying on you through the window just before you leave the house. And when you return, they may still be in the same position. While this may seem creepy, it is actually a way for your cat to keep an eye on you and ensure your safety.
When your cat behaves in this manner, you can rest assured that they adore you and want to keep you safe at all times. After all, it would break them if they lost their favorite human – and who will feed and cuddle them if you disappear?
They hang around you when they’re sick, too
Cats, like humans, have sick days. When they’re feeling under the weather, they usually gravitate toward a familiar face. However, when a cat is ill, perhaps more than ever, it will be extra clingy. This demonstrates how they derive comfort from you and trust that you are the best person to help them when they are vulnerable.
They are aware that you care for them and hope that you will help them overcome an illness and intervene if things deteriorate. In many ways, it’s the ultimate expression of trust that you’ll look out for their best interests.
Play with your cat
Cats spend a lot of their day lounging in the sun. Nonetheless… According to a post on Vetstreet, “that doesn’t mean cats don’t need or enjoy playing games with their owners. Cats enjoy being mentally and physically stimulated, and they enjoy spending time with their owners playing.”
Cats are incredibly inquisitive creatures. They’re not “acting out” when they get into your bags or rip up toilet paper; they’re bored and trying to be mentally stimulated. So play with your cat to reduce the chances of your entire toilet paper supply being shredded.
Slow blink back!
In Fetch by WebMD, Adriane Bishko writes, “By blinking slowly at your cat, you are communicating that you are aware of its presence and pose no threat.Try returning the gesture the next time your cat blinks at you.”
This could be particularly useful when attempting to befriend a fearful cat. You’re attempting to convey to them that you “come in peace” by blinking at them. If that doesn’t work, my friend, leave that scaredy-cat alone.
Let them sleep next to you
Many people allow their pets to sleep in their beds with them; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated in a 2011 report that less than 60% of people in the United States share their bed with a furry companion.
Though this will make your cat very happy (sleeping with humans makes cats feel safe, secure, and warm), there is a risk of diseases spreading to humans, according to the CDC report. “Zoonotic diseases,” in particular.
Pet your cat
Some cats adore being pet and will purr happily if you do so. In a blog post for Hill’s, Christine O’Brien writes, “Many cats, despite the common and persistent myth that they are aloof, welcome affection from their people.”
O’Brien continues, “In fact, petting and holding your cat helps build a loving relationship between the two of you.” However, some cats prefer their privacy and only receive minimal petting, while others, such as feral cats, dislike it entirely.