Wondering how cats show affection? We’ve put together a quick list of all the wonderful ways in which cats show us that they love us!
Experienced cat owners can easily tell what their cat’s body language and gestures mean. They know when Kitty is angry, hungry, sad, or happy, and they can tell when he or she is doting all over them, sending a crystal clear message of love. However, if you’re new to cats, you may be wondering what the exact telltale signs that your cat loves you are? We asked our experienced cat owners on the forums what they thought and put together a comprehensive list based on what they told us.
Before we begin, a couple of things to keep in mind –
1. Different cats have different personalities. Some are extroverts, openly showing their feelings and needs. Others are shy and sometimes even timid. They can be just as loving, and they need their owners just as much, but they may have a harder time expressing that. If that’s the case with your cat, please read this article: 10 Tips For Living With A Shy Cat.
2. It takes time to create a loving relationship. If you’ve only recently adopted a cat, you may need to give him or her more time to learn how to fully open up and trust you enough to show her/his feelings. Take a moment to read this article: How To Help A New Cat Adjust To Your Home.
And now, without further ado.
- 1. Purring at you
- 2. Approaching you for interaction
- 3. Wanting to be in your lap
- 4. Headbutting against your hands and face
- 5. Asking to be petted or even lifted
- 6. Squinting eyes when looking at you
- 7. Wanting to share your bed
- 8. Kneading you with their paws
- 9. Moving paws as if kneading
- 10. “Helping” you work and study
- 11. Keeping the tail high up in the air when walking around you
- 12. Chirping at you
- 13. Rubbing against your ankles
- 14. Showing his/her belly
- 15. Licking and grooming you
- 16. Talking by meowing at you
- 17. Yawning and stretching when they see you
- 18. Bringing you gifts
- 19. Sitting by the door when you’re about to go out
- 20. Following you everywhere
- 21. And we mean everywhere. Including the bathroom!
- 22. Giving you love bites
- 23. Nursing you when you’re sick
- Share the love with your cat
1. Purring at you
If your cat purrs while you’re petting or stroking her, that’s a great sign! Purring is one of the best-known ways for cats to show affection. Purring is one of the primary ways in which kittens communicate with the mother cat, and it’s a sign that they feel safe in her presence. Do keep in mind that when cats feel vulnerable or even in pain, they may purr as well.
TCS member @jellycatfish says about her cat Happy: “He often starts to purr loudly when he watches my boyfriend and me from his window spot and his scratching post.”
Did you know some people meditate to the sound of cat purrs? You can click play and keep on reading to that sweet sound!
2. Approaching you for interaction
Cats stay away from what anything that scares them. That includes humans. When working with a feral or traumatized cat, one of the first signs of trust is simply that the cat allows you to come nearer. When the cat approaches you, now that’s a sign of trust and fondness.
TCS member @lovefive says: “Martha makes me happy by coming up to me for fuss.”
3. Wanting to be in your lap
When you’re fortunate enough to have a feline snuggle up to you and take their place in your lap, that means they enjoy the closeness and feel safe in your arms. Not every cat is a lap cat, though. Don’t think Kitty doesn’t love you if they prefer to spend time in the same room as you!
TCS member @Losna says about her cat Sinbad: “He jumps up to sit with me and snuggle when I sit down.”
4. Headbutting against your hands and face
Cats have special glands on their face and neck that secrete an odorless substance called pheromones. When rubbing against your hands, they are, in fact marking you with their pheromones as part of their family. But there’s more to this than chemical signals. Undoubtedly, when a cat rubs against a person, they’re also showing just how much they love their human.
TCS member @caitini says: “Pierre smooshes his face all over me. I only have to stick my hand out and he’s there spreading his face pheromones all over it!”
TCS member @Lyrajean adds: “Aya is definitely an expert head-butter. Sometimes she gives me the “stealth” or “drive-by” head butts.”
5. Asking to be petted or even lifted
As you get to know your cat, you’ll soon know when they’re asking you to be petted. Some cats do this by meowing. Others may tap you gently on your hand. “Pet me” is a clear sign of a beautiful bond between the two of you.
To be carried around in the arms of a human takes a lot of trust. Most cats prefer to avoid being lifted in the air, so if your kitty wants to be lifted and held, consider yourself very lucky!
TCS member @sarthur2 says: “One of my cats stands fully upright on his back legs and puts his front paws on me to be picked up. Since he’s huge, it’s like a small child wanting to be lifted and held!”
And again, some cats don’t like being held in a human’s arms, though, so please respect your cat’s boundaries.
6. Squinting eyes when looking at you
Slowly shutting their eyes and opening them again is a sign of trust for cats. Try slowly squinting your eyes at Kitty, and she or he will likely return the gesture. You can even do that with a feral cat, at a distance. It feels pretty amazing to be able to “speak Cat” like that!
TCS member @Sirentist says about her cat Isabel: “Often after a few exchanges of blinks she’ll come over to me and let me give her a few pets.”
In a poll on our cat forums, we found out that 88% of TCS members share their bed with cats. Sure, at some level, they could be seeking the warmth and the sense of security, but as anyone who has ever shared a bed with a feline will tell you – they’re there because they love you and want to be near you all the time.
(And if your cat wakes you up at night – check out this article.)
TCS member @jcat said: “Every cat we’ve had has slept in bed with us, from kittenhood to old age.”
TCS member @foxxycat says: “Honeybee sleeps right on top of me. Floey next to me and Pumpkin face next to me.”
8. Kneading you with their paws
Kneading is one of the first behaviors that kittens display. Newborn kittens, blind and deaf, massage the teats as they suckle to promote the production of milk. When your cat is kneading you, they’re saying, “you’re my Meowmy!”.
TCS member @RickR says: “Archie wakes me up each morning at 6am by kneading my back and rubbing his head on my face.”
Read more: Why Do Cats Knead
9. Moving paws as if kneading
It doesn’t have to be actual kneading. Have you ever seen your cat stand or lie down at a distance, looking at you (usually while squinting), purring along and moving their paws gently, as it kneading? That’s a reflection of the same kitten-mother loving behavior again.
TCS member @StefanZ says about his cats: “When you come in and they want to greet you they open and close their paw – it’s sort of a mini version of kneading…”
10. “Helping” you work and study
When you love somebody, you want to be with them. Always and everywhere! And when they’re busy doing something – you want to help out! That goes for curious cats and kittens too.
TCS member @Sirentist says about her cat Isabel: “If I’m working on a project at the table, she’ll often come to deposit herself in the middle of it, or just to one side.”
Take a look at these kitties: Amazing Photos The 31 Most Helpful Cats You’ve Ever Seen
11. Keeping the tail high up in the air when walking around you
You could say this is the feline version of “I’m thrilled to see you!”
TCS member @PHarber-Murphy says: “My favorite is seeing their little tails go up in the air like a flag waving hello whenever I walk through the door. I know they’re thrilled to see me, and I’m thrilled to see them.”
12. Chirping at you
Cats chirp at things they want to be near to. You might find your cat chirping and chattering against the window when they see a bird outside. Granted, that doesn’t exactly mean that they wish to befriend said bird, but the chirp indicates a want – and need – to get closer. And when directed at their owner, it’s a sign of love.
TCS member @Columbine says: “Asha runs towards me chirping like crazy when I get home!”
13. Rubbing against your ankles
We mentioned head butting earlier, and now it’s time to list the “stand up version” of the same behavior. This is a common expression of love with cats that may not feel comfortable being picked up. Show love back, talk to your cat, and reach down to pet them when they’re rubbing against your ankles.
TCS member @Losna says: “Sinbad comes running to me to rub around my ankles.”
14. Showing his/her belly
The abdomen is a vulnerable area in a cat’s body. When they roll back to show you that adorable belly, it means they fully trust you. Some cats may even feel comfortable with letting their beloved human pet and scratch the belly. If that’s the case with your kitty, consider yourself lucky! Many other cats will expose their belly but respond with biting and scratching should you reach out and try to touch that velvety tummy.
TCS member @Banana Queen says her cats like “Rolling onto their backs for a tummy rub when I approach.”
15. Licking and grooming you
Mutual grooming is a sign of cats feeling very close to one another. Licking each other, they strengthen the bond and become closer. Some people even believe that when we pet our cats, we’re creating an effect similar to a huge tongue over their bodies. Which may remind a cat of how the mother cat used to lick them when they were kittens.
When a cat reciprocates to your petting by licking your hand, that’s a sign of affection.
TCS member @MServant says : “Mouse likes licking my face or hair esp while I’m stroking him so it’s almost like mutual grooming. Mouse likes to tidy up my eyebrows that way.”
16. Talking by meowing at you
Some cats are more talkative than others, but most will at least occasionally meow at their owner. Studies show that over time, most owners learn how to interpret the various “cat words.” Being able to communicate is a clear sign of an excellent loving bond!
TCS member @Jalindal says: “Mackerel responds at the spots in the conversation you’d expect her to, and with the tone that you’d expect, as well.”
17. Yawning and stretching when they see you
Cats yawn and stretch when they wake up from a nap. If this is what you see them doing when you enter the room, that usually means they’ve woke to greet you. Because they love you, you know.
TCS member @StefanZ says: “My resident cats Muskis and Vagis often yawn and stretch when I enter the room they are in. I guess it means they feel comfortable and friendly with me, and are telling me that. They also often greet each other this way.”
18. Bringing you gifts
Cats that are allowed outdoors sometimes bring their humans gifts in the form of prey (alive or dead). Some cats bring their owners toys, and a select few even learn how to play fetch!
19. Sitting by the door when you’re about to go out
Most cats take the main entrance very seriously. It’s that magical portal where their beloved human sometimes disappears. No wonder they like hanging around there when it’s about to happen. Just make sure that your cat never makes a dash for it to follow you through.
TCS member @Plan says about his Buddy : “He’s literally parking himself by the front door when I leave the house, and staying there until I come back. I’ve had people over and when I’ve run out quickly, like to grab something from the store, they’ve told me Bud stays by the door the whole time instead of just hearing me approaching and coming to the door.”
20. Following you everywhere
Some people think only dogs follow their owners around. Well, some cats are just like that. They’ll follow their human from room to room, always checking to see what’s going on.
TCS member @Columbine says: “Asha runs towards me chirping like crazy when I get home. She wants to be with me everywhere.”
21. And we mean everywhere. Including the bathroom!
You could try keeping Kitty out when you go into the bathroom. Good luck with listening to their urgent calls and dealing with claw marks on your door *wink* Or you could just do what most of us do – and let them inside to share the moment.
TCS member @stephanietx says about her cat Emmie: “She follows me to the bathroom and lays on the floor between my feet.”
22. Giving you love bites
Gentle bites without drawing blood or showing any signs of aggression are known as “love bites.” And some cats regularly apply them as a sign of love and affection.
TCS member @RickR says about his cat Lucy: “She likes to pull one or more of my fingers into her mouth and gently lick and nibble.”
23. Nursing you when you’re sick
We’re wrapping up the list with this exceptional way in which cats show us love and kindness when we need it the most. Cat owners who are bedridden – even for a few hours – often see how their cats come around them, sharing closeness and pampering them with purrs. Now, that’s true love!
TCS member @StefanZ says: “When you get sick with something, maybe rheumatism or a cold, you may notice the cat lying with you, giving you warmth and comfort.”
And don’t worry if your cat doesn’t show each and every one of these 23 signs. Not all do. Cats – just like people – are individuals with their unique ways of showing love.
Enjoy that special bond, and don’t forget to reciprocate by taking good care of your feline friend and showing them just how much you love them!
Leave us a comment to let us know in which way your cat shows you that they love you!