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Do Cats Feel Love or Affection? Exploring Cat Emotions

tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We look at our pets like they are members of the family. And we wonder, do they feel love for us? How do they know we love them? With cats, we often do not know what they are thinking!

We have science, psychology, and behaviorists to try to answer some of these questions. So, “Do cats feel love and affection?” Science says, yes, cats do feel love and affection, and this article will go over how they show it.

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Signs of Affection

two white cats rub faces on the grass, positive associations, bonding
Image Credit: Oleg Shishkunov, Shutterstock

Cats show each other affection by raising their tail and kinking the tip. This is a typical show of affection from a cat. Next time you come home from work, look at your feline’s tail. If he comes to greet you with his tail in position, he is showing his love for you. He is happy you are at home.

The next time you get annoyed at the cat for being on the counter, remember this. He is trying to get closer to you. He wants to show his affection for you by rubbing your face or head bunting you. When a cat feels affection for you, they want to claim you.  Leaving their pheromones on your skin lets other cats know that you are “their person.”

Kneading or “making muffins” is a show of a cat’s affection. If your cat is kneading on you, he is showing acceptance of your love and comfort.

Cats communicate with humans using mews, purrs, and chirps. If a cat feels love and safety in your company, he may mew, chirp or purr to accept your love. You are special to him, and he wants to express this to you. Cats love attention but only from people they love and trust. If that isn’t love, we don’t know what is!

A cat will show affection toward you by climbing in your bed with you or cuddling on your lap. A cat will only expose his belly to people he truly trusts. Belly exposure is a risk for cats. If he is willing to be vulnerable with you, he trusts and loves you!

Cats will also show friendship and affection by grooming their humans. The slow blink is another sign of love. Your cat is staring at you, he appears content. He is slowly batting his eyes at you. It is his way of saying, “I’m in awe of you.”

If you are on the throne and all you see is your cat’s tail moving the curtain. He thinks you don’t see him. He is playing something similar to hide and seek. A sure sign that he enjoys being with you and wants to play. He loves your attention.

For cats, bonding is experienced at an early age. Adult cats that like affection are usually socialized when they are kittens. In some instances, the act of affection and closeness to humans may be genetic. He is attentive when you are sick. That must be love.

Cat welcomes his owner at home
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Bonding

There are two things you can do to help your cat bond with you.

  • Your cat needs personal space to feel secure. Cats feel safe if they can choose who and when to interact with family and guests. Like humans, cats should have a private, out-of-the-way place for their litter box. They may not be comfortable with loud noises, children, or other pets interrupting their business.
  • Trust is key. If you feed, care for, and play with your cat, he will love you. When a cat senses that you are caring for them, cleaning the litter box, or giving them water, they want to love you.

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Conclusion

It all comes down to this, love feels good. Do you feel good when you are with your cat? When you are interacting with your pet, do you feel love and affection? Does it appear that your feline feels it too? If so, isn’t that all that matters?


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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