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How Do Cats Show Affection? 14 Ways Cats Show Their Love

cat snuggling with owner

Unlike dogs, who make no secret of their affection, cats prefer to shower their favorite humans with more subtle adoration. To the untrained eye, though, it can appear as though your feline is barely tolerating your presence.

For seasoned cat owners, they know better than to take their cat’s aloofness at face value. We’ve long since learned how cats show their love, whether it’s the obvious love bites or dropping a dead rat on the doorstep.

For new cat owners out there, we put together this list to show you that your cat isn’t being weird or rude but is actually expressing their love.

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The 14 Ways Cats Show Their Love

1. Always Nearby

Cats like their own space, but they’ll never pass up the chance to curl up with you, especially if they know you’re feeling under the weather. They somehow know when you’re not feeling your best or have had an awful day, and they’ll settle in your lap for a good old purring session.

After all, what’s better than cuddling with a warm, fuzzy friend after a long, chaotic week?


2. Belly Showing

Everyone knows that dogs love having their bellies scratched by their family members or the postman who brings them their favorite treats. Cats, on the other hand, tend to get angsty whenever people attempt to rub their stomachs, especially when they don’t know the person.

If your cat rolls over to show their belly or lets you rub their stomach, it’s one of the highest forms of trust. Your cat, after all, is a predator. Revealing their delicate undercarriage means they trust you not to hurt them and they love you enough to leave themselves vulnerable.

cat owner belly rubbing her cat
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

3. Blinking

Cats stare and have an uncanny ability to do so without blinking for long periods. Their attention can be both flattering and a little concerning, simply because it’s impossible to know what your feline is thinking whenever they stare at you.

All cat owners can agree, though, that the slow blinking of a staring feline is their way of saying, “I love you.”


4. Bunting

Another obvious way that cats show their affection is by marking items, people, and other animals with their scent. They have scent glands in their cheeks, paws, and the base of their tail. Bunting you with their head is another way that cats show affection.

It’s also their way of being possessive. By marking you with their scent, they’re announcing to everyone that you’re theirs.

cat sleeping in owner's arms
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

5. Gifts

Not all kitty affection makes much sense to us humans. Their idea of “gifts,” for example, usually ends up being the freshly dead remains of a mouse, rat, or bird that they’ve caught. It’s also their way of repaying you for feeding them all the time.

While your feline is probably proud of their hunting abilities and wants nothing more than to share their skills with you, you’d probably rather receive something more pleasant!


6. Greetings

Many people think that cats don’t care when you come back from work. However, many feline friends will greet their owners at the door when they get back from a day out or even just a walk with the dog.

You might even find that your cat comes to greet you when they return from exploring outside.

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

7. Kneading

Kittens learn to knead their mothers to get milk, and the habit stays with them as they grow as a way to show their contentment. Adult cats will knead owners whom they adore, alternating from left to right paw and back again while purring up a storm.


8. Licking

Cat lover or not, you’re probably familiar with how often cats groom themselves. Grooming their fellow cat housemates and you is their way of bonding with their family members. Even if you don’t have fur, your cat will settle in your lap for their version of a spa treatment.

Compared to the love bites, which can be discomforting if your cat is a little too eager to show their affection — those teeth are sharp! — licking is less painful.

cat licking human fingers
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

9. Love Bites

Biting is often seen as a bad thing, but for a friendly feline, a gentle nibble on your fingers is a form of affection. Without opposable thumbs, cats have limited means of holding things. Their mouths are one of their primary ways of doing so, and nibbling your fingers is just their way of saying, “don’t let go.”


10. Naptime

Cats can be particular about whom they sleep with. If they haven’t warmed up to your new kitten, it’s unlikely that you’ll see them cuddled up together. Sleeping leaves them vulnerable, and they’ll only settle down for a nap when they feel the safest.

Your kitty curling up in your lap or snuggling up to you at night is their way of showing how much they want to be around you.

tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

11. Peeing on things

Your cat’s tendency of peeing in your shoes while you’re out of the house is also a sign of affection. Like their idea of gift-giving, though, this one is more unpleasant than welcome.


12. Purring or Meowing

Where dogs are inclined to bark, cats are more prone to silence unless they’re talking to their human companions. They’ll meow whenever they’re hungry, but they’ll also chirp greetings when they meet you at the door when you get home from work.

Purring is also a sign of their contentment. They’ll curl up on your lap and purr the evening away or soothe your icky cold with their calming vocal vibrations.


13. Tail Language

More than their voices, cats rely on body language to get their messages across. Most of all, their tails tell us a great deal about what they’re feeling. If your cat is agitated, they’ll whip their tail back and forth, while a sleepy kitty might lazily swish it from side to side.

The next time that your cat runs up to you, meowing in greeting, pay attention to their tail. More than likely, you’ll find it pointing straight up with the tip bent over. This display means your cat is happy to see you.

cat rubbing its body the owner
Image Credit: Piqsels

14. Talk to the Tail

Many things that our cats do can seem rude. Turning away to give you a view of their rear end is one of them. Like showing their belly, however, cats only turn their back on people they trust. If you’ve ever watched your feline encounter a strange cat when they’re out and about, you’ll notice that they always face each other.

While it’s easy to believe that your cat is dismissing your presence entirely by turning away, it’s a proclamation of trust. They’re leaving themselves vulnerable, just to prove that they’re happy and comfortable in your presence.divider-cat

Final Thoughts: Cat Affection

Cats might not be as obvious as dogs when it comes to showering their favorite humans with affection, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. They just have subtler ways of announcing their adoration to the world.

The next time that your cat greets you at the door or leaves a freshly caught rat on your bedroom floor, you’ll know that your feline thinks the world of you.


Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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