A lot of people think cats can be stand-off “ish” and don’t show affection. But it just isn’t true. “Cats show their affection in a number of beautiful ways,” says Karen van Haaften, senior manager, behaviour and welfare, BC SPCA. “You just need to know what to look for and create an environment where they are comfortable doing so.”
If you are a new cat guardian or just wondering what your cat really thinks of you, these are some of the ways your cat shows you that they love you. Van Haaften adds that you shouldn’t try to “force” your cat to be affectionate. It is definitely a case of letting them make the first move. Not all cats behave in the same manner and a lot depends on how much socialization they received at a young age.
8 Signs your cat loves you
A curved tail
Your cat’s tail is straight up with a curve at the end. Your cat’s tail shows a huge range of emotions. When a cat’s tail is straight up with a curve at the end, you know that your cat is “happy to see you” and is approaching with love, or at least affection, in their heart. If they wrap their tail around you when they are at your feet that is another good sign. On the other end of the mood spectrum, if your cat’s tail is quickly switching side to side, it might be a good time to give them their space.
Your cat is nibbling or lightly biting you. This is thought to be a behaviour that cats learn as kittens from their mother who will nibble them when they are being groomed. If you are petting your cat, and they grab your hand with their paws and give you a “little” bite that is often a sign that they want you to keep petting them and don’t want you to stop.
Your cat is kneading on you, also known as “making biscuits”. You may have seen your cat knead a blanket, the top of your couch or another soft object. That rhythmic pushing down and pulling up of your cat’s paws is instinctive and starts when cats are kittens trying to stimulate their mother’s milk production. If the cat is kneading on you, especially when they are being pet and purring, they are returning your affection.
Your cat slowly blinks at you. It might look like they are dozing, but if your cat is looking right at you and slowly blinking, this is a sign of their affection for you. Why? It shows that they trust you and they do not see you as a threat. If you want to communicate your love for them, slowly blink back.
Your cat brings you “gifts”. If a cat brings you a toy it shows that your cat is thinking about you and wants to share what it has with you.
Your cat is always close to you. A cat’s desire to be close to you and spend time with you is a big indication of their love, affection and trust, especially if they sleep with you. “Cats are at their most vulnerable when they are asleep, so if they are sleeping with you it means they trust you,” says van Haaften. “Cats will also show their love and affection by staying close to their guardians when they are sick, upset or just not feeling their best.”
Your cat bumps their head into yours. A cat rubbing their head against yours is one of the biggest signs of affection they can give you. “It is a signal to everyone that they care about you and it is also a way for them to mark you with their scent,” says van Haaften.
Your cat licks you. Grooming is not the only reason a cat will lick another cat, another pet or you. It is also a way for them to mix scents and create a social bond. If your cat licks you they are saying they care about you.