How To Tell If Your Cat Loves You


This article was written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski. Updated by Dr Belinda Stancombe

Cats can be confusing creatures. Their psychology and behaviour are immensely different from that of humans and dogs. Worse still, not every cat acts the same and they all seem to be born with a distinct personality.

If it feels like your cat doesn't necessarily love you, but more tolerates you, you wouldn't be alone in feeling this.

The key with cats is to try and understand their unique psychology and way of communicating, rather than expect them to act like a human or a dog. Your cat is probably showing you plenty of signs that they adore you, but you might just not be able to recognise them!

With such a confusing way of communicating, there are a few sure ways to tell if your cat does in fact love you.

1. They Show You Their Belly

Rolling over in front of you or sleeping with their belly exposed, means that your cat trusts you.

Animals in the wild do not sleep on their backs, as this puts them in an exposed position, with their soft belly exposed and feet in the air, they are vulnerable to attack. Cats that choose to sleep on their backs feel very safe and comfortable with their surroundings. Exposing their belly to you, shows that they trust you completely and feel safe and secure in your presence.

2. They Knead On You

Kneading is when a cat presses and flexes their paws into a soft surface - which is often you! This is an instinct carried over from kittenhood, where kittens knead on their mother's belly to encourage milk let down.

Many cats will continue this behaviour as adults, as a sign of affection and contentment. Kneading is considered by some to be the ultimate display of love.

Unfortunately, sometimes kneading can be painful for us and the happier your cat is, the harder they will tend to press! If your cat is causing pain when kneading, try clipping their nails and providing plenty of cat scratchers to reduce sharp tip! If you are still having an issue with sharp nails, then attaching Kitty Caps may be a good option. Alternatively, next time your cats wants to knead, simply slip a pillow or blanket on your lap so they can knead to their hearts content without causing any pain.

3. They Bring You 'Presents'

It might seem like an odd way to show affection, but the act of presenting owners with a dead animal or insect is actually your cats way of telling you they love you.

Cats are natural hunters. Even the most well fed domesticated cat has a hard time resisting the thrill of the chase. When presenting you with their prey they are in fact treating you like family and helping provide for you. Some cats may present their owners with inedible gifts such as leaves or a toy, with the same motivation.

So, if your cat does bring you a 'present', no matter how gross, try to give them praise and return the love with a pat. After all, it's never nice to feel that a loved one doesn't like your gift!

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4. They Give You Love Bites

When a cat mouths or gives 'love bites', it is a sign of affection. Kittens mouth one another as a sign of love, but it doesn't hurt them due to their thicker feline skin. When a cat mouths or bites out of affection they are not trying to hurt you and simply don't understand that our skin isn't as thick as theirs - for all we know, they might think it's pleasant to us!

However, only gentle mouthing or biting is a sign of affection. If your cat is breaking the skin, they may be playing too rough or getting annoyed at you.

Keep in mind that many people will flinch or pull their hand away quickly when they feel their cat's teeth. Because a cat's natural instinct is to catch something that is trying to escape their clutches, instinct can kick in and they will grab your hand and bite down harder.

5. They Bunt Their Face Onto You

When cats rub their face onto you, they are marking you with pheromones to claim you as their own. It might seem possessive but think about it - they wouldn't want to own something they didn't love!

Not only is the bunting a pleasant form of affection for us to receive, but it is also a physiological stress release for cats.

Synthetic pheromone products such as Feliway work to release these scents into your cats home to help them feel calm and relaxed.

6. Purring

Perhaps the most well-known sign of affection, the act of purring is often compared to a human smiling. Purring in cats is usually associated with happiness and contentment but can also occur when a cat is sick or in pain as a means of self-soothing.

Cats get an endorphin release when they purr, which makes them feel good and can soothe them if they are in pain. Mother cats are known to purr when giving birth, as it is believed it helps to relieve the pain.

When a cat purrs while around you, you can usually assume they are 'smiling' because they are content and feeling emotions of happiness and love.

It may seem intimidating at times, but when cats stare into your eyes, they are trying to tell you that they trust and love you. If they follow this up with a slow blink, then you are in luck! They are saying that they feel comfortable and safe with you.

A slow blink is just like getting a kiss from your cat. Try doing this back to your cat next time, to let them know you feel the same way!

8. They Talk To You

Cats don't tend to meow at each other; this is a behaviour they have developed just for interacting with humans. Cats will meow for many reasons including to ask for things (such as dinner or to be let outside), to tell us something is wrong or simply to say hello. Cats don't tend to meow at unfamiliar humans and instead save this behaviour for those humans they trust and feel close to.

Always remember to make the effort to talk to your cat. Cats are extremely responsive to vocal noise and form closer relationships with people who interact with them vocally. They can even become depressed if they think they are being ignored. This sets them apart from dogs, who often bond more with a quiet, calm leader.

9. They Follow You Around

Does your cat follow you from room to room? There are many reasons that cats will follow owners around such as curiosity, boredom or hunger. In most cases though, cats just want to spend time with their owners and so will follow them around, even if they don't sit close to them.

There are certain breeds of cat which are considered to be 'velcro cats' and want to be by their owners side, such as the Ragdoll, Maine Coon, Bengal and Siamese, more so than other domesticated breeds.

Further Reading

Flea, Tick and Worming Guide For Cats

Why Do Cats Purr?

Looking After Your Senior Cat

Dental Care For Cats

9 Best Indoor Cat Toys

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