Cats. Can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em — right?
A lot of the time they’re loners who want nothing more from you than to be fed. Occasionally, they want just enough attention to give them the opportunity to shred the shit out of your arms. But then there are the times they’re so cuddly, it gives a glimmer of hope that they don’t actually hate your guts.
However, your cat might actually be showing tons affection without you even knowing it — you just have to know the signs.
Cats love their kittens. Cats groom their kittens. If your cat grooms you, you’ve officially been adopted into the cat family.
All that head-butting and rubbing up against you isn’t designed simply to plaster your clean clothes with cat hair. No, it’s actually another way your cat is claiming you as her own by imparting her scent onto your body. Just be grateful your male cat hasn’t sprayed you.
3. “Love bites”
These nibbles aren’t designed to draw blood… at least intentionally. Rather, they hark back to the days when your cat was a wee kitten, playing and nipping at his siblings. It’s an affectionate form of play that’s intended to say, “You’re part of my crew. Let’s have fun.”
4. Peeing on the bed
Hopefully this doesn’t become a habit, but if your cat wets your bed, interpret it not as a defiant slap in the face, but as another way your cat is laying claim to you as his favorite human. It’s certainly not a fun form of affection, but hey, now maybe you’ll be a little less angry the next time it happens. No?
5. She brings you dead “gifts”
There’s nothing like having a dead mouse, bird or insect dropped at your feet. When your cat brings you an offering, it’s really just a sign she wants to share her bounty with you as an esteemed member of her family. Thank her graciously before figuring out how to rid your house of the unfortunate present.
6. Cuddling and purring
Cats purr for lots of reasons, but they save the deep, rumbling purrs for when they’re relaxed and happy. If your cat cuddles up on your chest and lets the purring commence, you can feel fairly confident it’s because your cat loves and trusts you.
7. Belly up
Animals don’t bare their bellies in the wild unless they feel safe. When your cat rolls over and shows you his belly, it’s a sign he’s not worried you’re about to make a meal out of him. That may not seem as significant as a skywritten “I love you,” but when you stop anthropomorphizing your pet, you’ll realize it’s really just as good.
8. Close sleeping
When you consider basic animal instinct, the hours spent sleeping are the most vulnerable hours of the day. It’s important for cats to sleep where they feel safe, so if your cat sleeps on or around you, it’s a surefire sign she doesn’t see you as a threat. And as an extension, your cat loves you.
9. Paw kneading
That lovely kneading of your thighs is really just your cat’s way of trying to get you to produce more milk.
Kittens knead their mama cat while they nurse as a way to stimulate milk production. One theory as to why adult cats knead their humans is that they associate the kneading action with the bygone happiness of nursing. So if your cat is happy and content, he may start kneading you. Weird.
10. Slow blinking
Slow blinking is the equivalent of a kiss in cat terms. It’s not necessarily the blink itself that does it, but the cat’s willingness to stare deep into your eyes as he shares his innermost cat feelings. A long stare, slow blink and long stare prove your cat trusts and loves you. It’s only right that you return the stare.
11. Tail twitch
Like dogs, cats communicate a lot through body language, particularly how they hold or move their tails. If your cat approaches you with her tail upright with a slight twitch at the tip or a question mark-shaped curve that moves from one side to the other, consider this the “happy tail.” Your cat is thrilled to see you.
12. Creepy shadow
Cats are solitary animals, perfectly content to spend their days alone. If your cat voluntarily follows you around, even if it’s at a distance, you can feel confident it’s because she loves you.
Originally published September 2016. Updated April 2017.