- Cats have a reputation for being difficult to read but there are several ways they can show their affection.
- Grooming behaviors such as licking the hair or ears signals that a cat trusts that person.
- Subtle signs like a slow blink also signal a cat’s love for a human.
- Visit INSIDER’s home page for more stories.
With their inscrutable faces and reputation for acting indifferent to their human keepers, cats can be difficult to read.
Sure, they might not show their love with wagging tails and slobbery kisses like dogs. But that’s because felines have their own ways of communicating their affection.
Here are a few behaviors that show a cat really likes you.
1. Your cat headbutts you out of love.
If a human rammed their head into your side, you probably wouldn’t consider it a token of affection. For cats, however, headbutting is a sign of love.
“Butting is a cat’s communication method of showing affection for others. By rubbing this body part against one of yours, she is identifying you as one of her friends,” pet behavior researcher Gayle Hickman writes on Petful.
Additionally, a cat might use head bunting to mark their territory. Felines have scent glands on their chins, cheeks, forehead, and lips. By rubbing its face on you, your cat is spreading a unique scent on you and marking you as a buddy.
2. Its tail is always twitching at the tip or curled around your leg.
A cat’s tail reveals a lot about its mood. Though a bushy tail, upright hair, and arched back is a signal that a cat feels threatened, an erect and swishy tail can mean that it feels confident and happy in your presence, according to WebMD.
A tail curled around your leg or arm is also a sign of friendship and affection.
3. It shows you its tummy.
There are few things cuter than a fluffy cat belly, and getting to see one means that you’ve earned that cat’s trust.
Cats usually show their bellies voluntarily to creatures that they trust. According to WebMD, it shows that they feel safe and are comfortable being vulnerable. If your cat stretches out on the floor beside you and rolls around, you can bet its feeling affectionate.
That said, cats may also expose their tummies as a submissive or defensive act when they feel cornered. If you don’t know the cat well (e.g. it’s a stray or an acquaintance’s pet), be wary of trying to stroke their belly, as this may cause the cat to take a swipe at you.
4. Purring means your cat is happy in your presence.
As you might have suspected, purring is a good indication that your cat likes having you around.
In fact, Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager for Cats Protection, tells Cosmopolitan that cats reserve their purrs exclusively for humans they adore. They don’t purr for other cats, except their own kittens.
5. Your cat brings you “gifts.”
Though they might not be the sort of things you’d put on your wishlist, your cat may bring you gifts – like dead mice, frogs, bugs, or trash – because they feel at home with you.
“Many people think that these ‘gifts’ are for the owner, but cats actually bring them home to where they feel secure. It’s a sign that they feel safe with you,” Trevorrow explains to Cosmopolitan.
6. Your cat nibbles you a lot.
- Flickr/Evan Bench
One less common sign of a cat’s fondness is habitual nibbling or soft biting.
According to Care2, a cat will sometimes deliver a gentle, tickling bite to those it loves. This is definitely distinguishable from a real bite, as one hurts and the other doesn’t. If your cat is using you as a chew toy, it could be a sign that you guys are best buddies.
7. It gurgles all the time.
- Flickr/Jennifer C.
Though it might sound strange to people who don’t own cats, some felines make a distinctive high-pitched gurgling or “chatting” sounds when they’re feeling friendly and sociable, according to WebMD.
These sounds are distinct from the typical meowing sound and might be made by a chat that’s in a particularly cheerful or excited mood. If your cat is a gurgler, you’re probably keeping them in good spirits.
8. It follows you around constantly.
If your feline insists on hopping into bed with you, sneaking into the bathroom when you’re showering, and watching you eat, you’re probably a big interest of theirs.
Being followed around even when it’s close to mealtime is also a big indicator that you’re popular with your feline, according to Cosmopolitan.
9. Your cat licks your hair or ears.
You probably know that some animals groom each other as displays of care and affection, and cats are no different.
Grooming behaviors such as licking a human’s hair or ears signals that a cat trusts that human and considers it a close companion, according to Care2. It’s a sign of friendship and shows that your furry friend cares about you.
10. Your cat kneads you with its paws.
Kittens knead their mother to stimulate milk flow, but adult cats also use kneading as a way to cozy up to their keepers.
“This behavior has a habit of sticking around as a source of comfort and relaxation, and it may even be a sign of affection and bonding with you. A cat may exhibit this behavior because it sees you as its mother, authority figure or it’s the cat’s way of saying, ‘I trust you,'” writes pet behavior researcher Gayle Hickman on Petful.
Scent glands in the paws are also activated by kneading, so your cat may also be trying to mark you as its own.
11. It blinks at you slowly.
Cat owners are probably familiar with the trance-like gaze felines can sometimes deliver. Turns out, they may actually be trying to communicate their affection.
“Slowly blinking at you is a sign of pure love, and it’s often even referred to as a ‘kitty kiss.’ When other cats are around, you may see your cat slow blinking a lot. This is to let the other cats know that everything is cool,” Hickman reports on Petful.