Despite having a reputation for being aloof, cats are very loving creatures.
They generally give out a lot of hints to show their sweet, innocent love, although this might differ from how dogs show affection.
Cats aren’t as jolly and goofy as dogs, but it doesn’t make them any less loving. Cats are just more discerning and sometimes discriminating, but they can be endlessly devoted to their owners.
Here are 7 surprising and unique ways cats show affection.
1. Staring and blinking
Your cat’s expressive, kitty eyes may mean a lot more than you know.
When you notice your cat staring at you with her big, alluring eyes and a slow majestic blink, you might have disregarded it as just the usual cat curiosity. In actuality, it means your feline friend is contented and sincerely enjoying your company.
Often referred to as kitty kiss, slow blinking by a cat—a trance-like, eyes-almost-closed look—is a good sign. Cats do this when they are contented whether they are alone, with other cats, or with you, as told by Dr. Shelby Neely to PetMD.
Now you know that your cat blinking at you means she’s communicating affection. Maybe next time, try returning the sweet gesture.
2. Licking you
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.
When he licks you, he’s showing he loves you. Dr. Megan Maxwell tells PetMD, “Social grooming by licking is an important affectionate behavior in cats and licking can be a sign of affection between cats and between a cat and a human.” Oddly enough, they’re also trying to groom you, like how their mothers cleaned them as kittens.
What’s more, licking is also your cat’s method of marking his territory. When he licks you, you are his territory, in an affectionate way. Though it may seem a bit selfish, your cat uses pheromones to mark you as his own beloved human, discouraging a potential third party.
Next time your cat licks you, consider yourself lucky. You are graced by his special and unique love. However, unless you want a mouthful of fur, it isn’t a very good idea to return the licking gesture.
3. Kneading you
If your cat is kneading you like dough, consider yourself privileged. But do you know why they knead?
Cats start to “make biscuits” shortly after birth. Kittens do this to their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow. Even as adults, cats can continue to knead instinctively.
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 she’s feeling your affection and showing her contentment.
It can also mean your cat is feeling anxious and you’re her anxiety-absorber. Like licking, kneading you also means your cat is marking you as her own, using her paws’ scent from the sweat glands.
To sum up, kneading is your cat’s own way of showing her pure love. She’s not trying to slowly tenderize you to eat for later.
4. Scratching things
Sharpening their claws isn’t always the reason why cats scratch on things. More often than not, cats scratch on areas most important to them, often associated with their owners.
When you notice your cat scratching in places where you two mostly hang out, it means your cat loves you and that place so much that he needs to preserve and “protect” that place. That particular place grew on your cat’s heart and he marked it as his territory, warning other cats to back off.
As per animal behavior consultant Pam Johnson-Bennett, “The marks left on an object when the cat rakes its claws vertically create a visual sign for others who pass by. In an outdoor setting, these visual markers are important because they show approaching cats that they’re entering an area where another cat has been in or is currently residing. This advance warning system can reduce the number of actual physical confrontations cats may otherwise have.”
The next time you catch your cat scratching on the foot of your bed, try not to interrupt him. Most probably, he’s just trying to cherish a memory of you.
5. Nipping you
Also known as “love bites”, your cat’s gentle little nips are indications of overexcitement or when she feels a strong sense of bonding.
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 its love bite isn’t always pleasant for you.”
Basically, your devoted cat is just trying to show her affection in a playful way, clueless about your inferior, soft skin.
6. Bringing you “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. But though stomach-turning, this is a cat’s natural hunting instinct and your talented kitty just wants to share the reward of his labors with you. With a proud look on his face, this is his way of taking care of you – you, the giant bald cat who’s clueless about hunting.
In the wild outdoors, all cats large and small are carnivorous predators. As cubs and kittens, their mothers bring them dead prey to teach them how to eat it. Later on, their mothers bring them half-dead animals for the kittens to do the deed themselves. This trait is still instinctive in domestic cats, who think of their owners as helpless, incapable hunters.
The next time you receive a “gift” from your cat, remember this is his way of showing affection and it’s better to accept and reward this well-intentioned act.
You may have heard your cat purr before but may not know why they purr. If you’ve heard your cat purr while snuggling on the bed, while she’s contently sleeping on your lap or when you’re giving her belly rubs, then this is good news – your cat loves you.
Purring is your cat’s signal of her positive feelings for you. Whether your cat is purring while you’re giving belly rubs or while she’s soundly sleeping by your side, it’s a sign of relaxation and contentment. It also means your cat feels safe and secure.
Now that you’re more aware of these 7 signs of affection, you can better appreciate how your cat is communicating with you and deepen the bond you share.