7 Surprising and Unique Way Cats Show Affection

There’s a common misconception about cats being aloof and hardly caring about the people they live with. This is something most cat owners know isn’t true though!

Cats can be incredibly loyal, affectionate, and sweet pets that show their love in a variety of ways. Although they do not always show these in front of you like dogs do, there are many small cues that cats do that mean they care about you.

In fact, many of these may be something you wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t know how to look out for them. Here are 7 surprising and unique ways cats show affection.

cute affectionate cat

Your cat’s expressive eyes may mean a lot more than you know. One of the most unique behaviors that cats display is the so-called slow blink.

This occurs when cats look at you and slowly and intentionally closes and opens their eyes which you might have regarded as just the usual cat curiosity. In actuality, it means your feline friend is contented and sincerely enjoying your company.

It’s done in a much more languid motion compared to a standard blink, which is merely a physical function to clean and moisten the eyes. A slow blinking cat will also appear soft, with body language indicating relaxation and contentment.

The slow blink is a way of saying “I’m happy and comfortable” and is a display of trust between the cat and person. This is because slow blinking would otherwise leave cats vulnerable as their eyes are, of course, shut which means they know you don’t pose any threat to them.

Behaviorists will often use slow blinking as a way to establish a connection with a frightened cat as it can go both ways. When a person slow blinks back to a cat, they are saying that they don’t mean any harm.

2. Rubbing and Headbutting

When a cat is rubbing their body all around your legs and pushing their faces into you, what they’re actually doing is saying “This is my person!” Cats have an array of scent glands all over their bodies – several on their face including their mouth and cheeks, as well as on their paws, flanks, and tail.

When they rub against you, they’re imparting their smell which lets other cats know that whatever is marked is their area or property. Headbutting – also called bunting – is another way of territorial marking.

Cats have been seen to head bunt with one another as a way to facilitate social bonding or even comfort. So, when they do it to people, it’s for a very similar purpose which is as an affectionate gesture.

When cats rub against you, they are in a happy mood and they are showing that there is a connection between you two.

cat lying on a ladies shoulder

3. Love Bites

Your cat’s gentle little nips are indications of overexcitement or whenever your kitty feels a strong sense of bonding.

Although this particular cat bite may seem like a negative thing at first glance, love bites refer to a particular form of communication. They are a soft nibble that almost always coincides with positive interactions.

They are not defensive and rarely will draw blood, as opposed to an aggressive bite. That is why it’s important to know the difference between these two.

These love bites happen in the context where the cats are happy and relaxed, say, while they are on their owners’ laps. Sometimes cats may start to lick your hand before their teeth come out for a quick chomp.

Many behaviorists believe love bites are reminiscent of the time when a cat received nibbles from their mothers during kittenhood. Thus, it’s a gesture of affection – meaning, they are in the ultimate state of relaxation.s

Why do cats give ‘love bites’? According to Dr. Karen Becker, “Kitties nip each other affectionately and their skin is tougher than ours, so your cat really doesn’t understand that a love bite isn’t always pleasant for you.”

Basically, your devoted cat is just trying to show his/her affection in a playful way; clueless about your inferior, soft skin.

Kneading with cat paws

4. Meowing

A surprising fact about cats is that they only meow at people. Although kittens do meow at their mothers, once they grow into adulthood, this communication becomes reserved only for us.

Between and among cats, they have a different repertoire of verbal and non-verbal communication – including yowls and trills.

There are a number of reasons why cats meow at people and they have something to do with priming us for what they want. In general, it means that they want something – whether to be let in or out of a space or room, to ask for food or to solicit attention. Some cats even seem to meow simply as a way to greet their humans!

Some cats can be quite vocal in their requests for attention. These cats love social contact and can be quite chatty when a person plays with or pets them. This would seem to suggest that meowing is a form of social bonding and perhaps, reinforces positive feelings for the animal in these contexts.

5. Kneading

If your cat is kneading you like dough, consider yourself privileged. But do you know why they knead?

Kneading is a very common behavior seen in cats of all ages and is one way to show their appreciation. It’s generally believed that kneading is likely an unconscious, instinctual behaviorreminiscent of the times when they were just kittens and had to knead in order to stimulate milk production from their mother’s mammary glands.

The truth is, cats pressing their paws to their owners, usually to the legs, is their way of saying ‘I love you’. When your cat kneads on you, it means your furball is feeling your affection and thus, showing contentment.

It can also mean that you’re the anxiety-absorber whenever your cat is feeling anxious. Just like licking, kneading you also means marking you as his/her own using paws’ scent from your cat’s sweat glands.

To sum up, kneading is cats’ way of showing their pure love. They’re not trying to slowly tenderize you to eat for later.

6. Grooming

You might’ve been grossed out by your furry friend’s tendency to lick you with that warm, wet, sandpapery tongue. However, this weird habit is actually your cat’s way of showing affection.

Cats, of course, spend a lot of time grooming themselves and they will also groom each other; either as kittens with their littermates or as adults who live together. Mother cats also will teach their kittens how to groom by licking them clean when they are just born.

Cats have also been observed to display this allogrooming behavior to their people. This grooming communicates love and also reinforces the social bond between the pet cats and their owners.

What’s more, licking is also your cat’s method of marking territory. Though it may seem a bit selfish, cats use pheromones to mark you as their own beloved humans; discouraging a potential third party.

Next time your cat licks you, consider yourself lucky. You are graced by your feline’s special and unique love. However, unless you want a mouthful of fur, it isn’t a very good idea to return the licking gesture.

7. Gifts

Waking up in the morning just to see a disgusting rodent or bird carcass right beside your bed may be a bit of a shock. Although stomach-turning, this is cats’ natural hunting instinct and they may just want to share the fruit their labor with you.

This is similar to mother cats bringing prey to their kittens – both to serve as food and to teach them how to hunt. When cats drop off a mouse at the foot of your bed, they may be saying, “I know you can’t hunt, so I got something for you.” This way, the cat is displaying his or her affection by providing for you.

Some cats will also offer their toys and when they do, they may either want to share them with you or solicit playtime.

When bringing prey gifts, behaviorists suggest that this is a way of showing that they care about you. As with many cat behaviors, it again relates to what they experience when they were kittens – just growing up and coming to understand the world.

The next time you receive a “gift” from your cat, remember that this is the feline’s way of showing affection and it’s better to accept it and reward this well-intentioned act.

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