Whether you’ve got one of the
smartest cat breeds in the world or decided to adopt an unidentifiable stray, there are a few things you can count on.
Your cat will be curious about every noise and smell, right up until the moment it’s time for several hours of napping. You cat will race madly from room to room like he’s being chased by rampaging ghost dogs. Your cat will never let you forget that it’s dinnertime.
A question that’s harder to answer is this. Does my cat love me?
After all, how would you know? It’s not like they can just say it.
As it turns out, there’s almost no end to how cats show love. They’re just subtle about most of the ways they express that emotion. You simply need to know what to look for in their behavior.
To help you answer the lingering question of “Does my cat love me?” we’ve assembled 7 signs that you’re your cat’s favorite.
Let’s jump in!
Purring is quite possibly the most famous noise cats make behind the meow. You’ve heard it while petting your feline companion as he lounged on your lap.
Purring is the hallmark expression of affection that cats offer. It’s a sign of contentment and pleasure. If you’ve been wondering, “Does my cat love me?” purring is a solid indicator that he does.
Like most things with cats, purring is more complex than it appears on the surface. Cats will sometimes purr because they’re hungry. If it’s near feeding time, those purrs may be less about affection than an attempt to get you to hurry up.
Some cats will purr because something makes them anxious. A cat that doesn’t like loud noises might hunker down and purr during a nearby fireworks display. If your cat finds change stressful, he might do the same when you rearrange all the furniture in your living room.
There isn’t a clear reason for why cats purr during moments of anxiety. One possible explanation is that it helps your cat soothe himself.
Another possibility is that your cat has been injured in some way. There’s some evidence that vibrations from purring actually aid in healing. It’s good for bone and muscle repairs, as well as healing up wounds.
So when you’re deciding if your cat’s purr means affection, take a cue from the situation. If your cat is relaxed, it’s not feeding time, and there’s no obvious stress from the environment, it’s probably love.
2. Bringing You Toys or Dead “Gifts”
Long before cats decided it was
easier to get humans to feed them, they were consummate hunters. Everything from rodents and birds to lizards and insects is fair game to your purring friends.
While hunting is something cats need to learn, they tend to pick it up pretty quickly. You see it when kittens and grown cats chase, bat at, and pounce on those little plush toys that litter cat-friendly homes.
What about when your cat drops a toy or dead rodent at your feet or leaves one in your bed? It may be annoying or even disgusting, but you shouldn’t punish your cat for the behavior.
It’s another way for your cat to show affection. You should read that as a signal the cat considers you as part of her family. It’s a firm “yes” to the question of “Does my cat love me?”
An alternate theory about cats bringing you toys or dead animals is also an affirmative to “Does my cat love me?” It is, however, a more parental expression of her love. That theory suggests that bringing you a toy or a mostly-dead animal is similar to bringing prey for a kitten to practice hunting.
Your cat thinks you can’t hunt and is worried you won’t survive. She’s trying to make it easy for you to hone your hunting skills. If you cat didn’t love you, she wouldn’t bother with such gestures.
3. Kitty Kisses
Do you pay much attention to your cat’s eyes? You should, because your cat may be answering “Does my cat love me?” by giving you his version of a kiss.
The cat kiss, sometimes called a slow blink, involves your cat making firm eye contact with you. Then, your cat will slowly blink at you once or twice.
It may not seem like much, but your cat is showing an astonishing amount of trust in you. After all, closing his eyes means your cat won’t see it coming if you do something aggressive.
Giving you cat kisses is another way your cat says “yes” to “Does my cat love me?” They need to feel so comfortable and safe in your presence that they expect you won’t hurt them.
If your cat does give you a cat kiss, take advantage of the opportunity to build on that affection. Make firm eye contact and slowly blink back.
It might feel a little silly to you. Since your cat doesn’t pose any serious threat to you, you’re not taking any safety risk. Your cat doesn’t know that, so it reads as a similar display of trust on your part.
Plus, it’s an easy way to tell your cat that you love them and in a language that they can understand. If you can get your cat to look at you for long enough, you can even initiate the cat kiss.
Kneading with their paws isn’t a universal trait among cats. It’s a common one for cats of all ages, which means the odds are good that your feline friend does it.
Similar to purring, kneading means different things in different contexts. To help you distinguish what it means, let’s look at where kneading originates.
Kneading goes all the way back to when kittens are nursing. They knead at their mother to encourage her to make more milk.
You’d think the behavior would stop once they stop nursing, but it hangs on throughout adulthood. You’ll often see your cat kneading at a soft blanket or cat bed before lying down. This behavior is similar to one exhibited by wild cats, who do the same thing to soft grasses.
Cats also knead as part of their stretching routine. You’ve probably seen your cat with her hindquarters up and her front legs stretched out as she kneads a scratch pad. If you’re less fortunate, your cat does that to your carpets.
Kneading is a positive “yes!” to the question of “Does my cat love me?” especially if she’s sitting on your lap when it happens. That kneading shows pleasure and affection.
It can also hurt you quite a bit. As your cat grows happier, she’ll knead more enthusiastically and sink her claws into your skin.
You’ve only got two options for managing that kneading, other than making your cat get down. You can suffer through it or try to put something thick under her front paws. If she’s being enthusiastic with kneading, try to think of it as her way of answering your question of “Does my cat love me?”
Cats lick themselves and their kittens for grooming purposes. Licking can also serve as a soothing or self-calming action.
When a cat turns to licking you, though, how should you read it? Is she saying that you’re not grooming well enough?
It’s possible she does think you’re under-grooming. Mother cats are responsible for teaching kittens how to groom themselves. If your cat sees you as some kind of giant kitten, she may be trying to teach you proper cat ways.
There are a couple other explanations.
Licking is one way that cats mark their territory. It’s a friendly way for your cat to tell other cats that she owns you or that you’re already part of a cat family.
The other explanation is affection. Cats lick one another to express their affection. As part of her cat family, your cat wants to do the same to you.
If your cat makes a habit of licking you, you don’t even need to ask, “Does my cat love me?” The answer is already “yes.”
If your cat wanders up and licks you for no reason, she might also be looking to get you to pet her. It’s your basic love-for-love quid pro quo.
6. Does My Cat Love Me? Does She Show You Her Belly?
As a predator animal, your cat is going to be well aware of when she’s in a vulnerable position. There are few positions more vulnerable for your cat than being sprawled on a bed or couch with her belly exposed.
Like with the cat kiss, your cat needs to feel extremely comfortable and secure to show you her belly. It’s a way for her to express deep trust in your good intentions. It’s one of the most extreme ways your cat can say “yes” to “Does my cat love me?”
If your cat is especially affectionate and exposes her belly to you, she might want you to rub it. Be aware that this is tricky ground.
If you’ve never rubbed your cat’s belly before, you’ll want to be ready to pull your hand back very fast. You might get scratched or bit if she wasn’t looking for a tummy rub. Listen to see if she’s purring.
When in doubt, don’t try to rub any cat’s belly. You can always scratch around her ears or neck to be friendly.
You do need to be mindful of the situation and other cues your cat is sending. In some cases, a cat will expose his belly when he feels threatened and cornered. This isn’t a sign of submission.
Your cat is preparing to use all of his claws and teeth against the perceived threat. Odds are good you’ll know this when you see it. Your cat will probably be making unhappy or threatening noises at you.
Basically, an exposed belly and hissing means back off.
7. Rubbing Against You
Picture this. You’re standing in the kitchen and waiting for the microwave to finish turning something frozen into some edible. You feel something bump against your calf.
You look down and find your cat sitting next to your foot and staring up at you. Once the cat sees you seeing him, he bumps and rubs his face against your leg again.
This odd, head butting behavior is called bunting and virtually all cats do it. In fact, they learn it from their mothers as kittens. It’s a fundamental social behavior for cats of all breeds.
It serves a lot of functions, but does it answer the important “Does my cat love me?” question. If it’s your own cat, the answer is almost “yes.”
When your cat bunts you, it’s an open sign of demand or “affection”. It’s a way of signaling that you’re an important part of your cat’s social group. It’s also another way for your cat to deposit the pheromones that mark you as his property.
If a cat you don’t know bunts you, the intention may be to get some food, attention or affection from you. The more likely purpose is to discover information.
The bunting behavior gives a cat the opportunity find out if you’ve come into contact with other animals recently. If the cat smells a dog on you, for example, he may keep his distance.
Parting Thoughts on Feline Love
It’s pretty easy to tell when some animals love you. Dogs wag their tails, bark, and jump around in excitement. Cats aren’t quite so easy.
You can’t just walk through the door and immediately answer the question, “Does my cat love me?” Cats are more reserved. That doesn’t mean the question can’t be answered.
Finding the answer to “Does my cat love me?” means paying more attention. Cats send out loads of signals that they love you, but you have to be ready to discern those signals.
They give you cat kisses and bring you toys. They purr and lick. They knead your leg or rub up against it and show you their bellies.
The signs are all there to read if you’re willing to watch for them.
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