A man holding a cat over his shoulder.

How Do Cats Show Affection Towards Humans?

Cats are a popular choice of pet animals, but some people who don’t own a cat often wonder why people bother caring for an animal that “clearly” isn’t interested in them. Oftentimes new cat owners also think their cat doesn’t like them at all, whereas the reality of the situation is completely different. We’re here to quash this misconception once and for all and give our feline partners the love and praise they deserve.

The thing about cats is that they are reclusive by nature. Unlike dogs who always desire to be playing with their owners, or even some birds that act all huffy when you interact with them and they’re in a bad mood but eventually come around, cats don’t really ever shower their owners with large doses of affection. There are outliers of course; some cats out there can’t be separated from their owners for two minutes. But most cats are very subtle in betraying any hint of emotion or affection.

Purring Means a Lot!

Purring Means a Lot!

Newer cat owners might think purring doesn’t mean much, but it really does. Cats don’t just purr if they’re happy or content; they also purr when they feel safe around you and trust you. A cat trusting you is actually a very strong sign of its affection towards you. So if you hear your cat purring like a motorboat when you stroke it or pet its head, know that it enjoys it and loves it, even if it doesn’t show it.

Kneading and Tummy Exposure Are Also Signs

Kneading and Tummy Exposure Are Also Signs

Cats, ones that feel super content with their surroundings and their owners, often partake in kneading. Kneading is when a cat appears to be “massaging” a soft item. It can be a blanket, a pillow, the bed, or even your leg. This is an act that newborn kittens do on their mother’s stomach when they need to drink milk, and if your cat is doing this around you it is one of the strongest indicators of your cat being extremely comfortable around you and thus being affectionate as well.

And another positive sign is if your cat feels comfortable laying with its stomach exposed towards you. For cats, the small domestic variants as well as the big cats found in the wild, the stomach is their weakest point on their body. A cat only exposes its stomach when it feels completely and absolutely at ease. Every posture a cat takes on during hunting or fighting is angled so that its stomach is hidden away. So if your cat feels comfortable enough around you, it will have no problem laying down in a manner that its stomach is exposed.

Grooming You Is a Very Affectionate Act

Grooming You Is a Very Affectionate Act

Till now we’ve discussed signs that mean your cat is comfortable around you, but not really how cats actually show their affection. The above few points were necessary however, because for a cat to be comfortable around you is its own way of showing affection due to the reclusive and hesitant nature of cats.

For a completely affectionate showing however, keep an eye out for your cat grooming you. Grooming in cats mostly revolves around licking each other, as this allows them to clean each other in places that their own tongue cannot reach. However, it is also one of the primary ways cats show affection. Mother cats lick their newborn kittens, and this act continues in to adulthood as a means of showing their love and desire to protect. So if your cat regularly licks you, most likely your hand or arm when you reach out to pet it, it means that your cat really loves you and cares for you.

Cuddling and Bumping Their Heads or Noses

Cuddling and Bumping Their Heads or Noses

It isn’t difficult to find a cat owner that says their cat never cuddles with them, and that doesn’t mean their cat doesn’t like them. All cats are different, so there are always cats who dislike cuddling due to a heightened awareness of their personal space and a strong desire to keep it void. However, if your cat occasionally cuddles up next to you, or just bumps their nose or forehead into you, you can rejoice in that fact that not only does your cat love you, but also that it just showed its affection for you in a way many cat owners rarely get to experience.

Love Bites Are Another Way of Showing Affection

Love Bites Are Another Way of Showing Affection

Have you ever reached out to pet your cat only to have it grab your hand in its paws and gently bite your fingers? To the uninformed, this might seem like a hostile act and they might suddenly recoil their arm in fear of a serious bite mark. But this is actually a form of showing affection for cats. Named love bites, these little nibbles on your fingers or arms are never too strong, and are in fact just your cat lovingly biting you to show its love for you.

Blinking or Winking Slowly and Bringing You “Food”

Much like the nibbling being named love bites, the act of a cat very slowly blinking or winking in your direction is often called a cat’s way of blowing kisses towards you. If your cat is the type that rarely cuddles with you, if ever, then make sure to be on the lookout for these flying kisses; as they might be more your cat’s style of showing affection as they require less physical contact.

On the other hand, if your cat often brings you small dead animals that it caught or hunted outdoors, you can know for a fact that your cat loves you a lot. This act of bringing you dead prey is your cat’s protective instincts kicking in and it looking out for your dietary needs. Cats only ever share their prey with those they consider to be especially close to, and bringing you a dead mouse is the most caring thing your cat could do for you. Though we’re not sure how it’ll feel if you throw away the poor animal’s corpse in front of it.

Come Home to Pee? Cute! Sorta…

Yes, yes, we know cleaning up after your cat is never fun. But try to look for a pattern here and you might just notice something that melts your heart. Does your cat use its litter when you are home, but pee around the house when you’re out? If so, that doesn’t mean your cat is taking advantage of you being away and just making a mess for fun. Cats pee to mark their boundaries, and if you come back to a house full of puddles of urine everywhere, it means that your cat missed you so much it marked its boundaries hoping you would come back after smelling its urine. Adorable, in a gross sort of way.

Curved Tails and Weird Sounds

It’s common knowledge that a dog wags its tail when it is happy or excited, whilst a cat swishes its tail when it is angry or uncomfortable. It is also common knowledge that a cat’s tail being erect means it is happy or at least comfortable and content with its surroundings. But if you ever notice that your cat walks towards you with its tail high up but the end of the tail slightly curved to one side, know that it means your cat is signaling it is not a threat to you and sees you as a friend.

In addition, cats meowing or making other less expected noises when in your vicinity is also a way of showing affection. Meowing is actually something cats evolved to do purely for to seek human attention, and it alone can signal affection from a cat towards a human. But other sounds like chirping, mewing, the already discussed purring, and trills are all ways cats show their affection and comfort around humans.

Conclusion

Hopefully these signs of affection were enough to quell the misconception of cats being cold once and for all. Your cat loves you. Really, it does. All you have to do is look out for the signs because they can be difficult little critters to read, but we love and adore them all the same. If you’re a new cat owner or are looking to become one, give our post on the importance of toys for a new cat a read to properly arm yourself for the task at hand. For a fun little informative post, we have an article on black cats and how and why they were seen as omens of bad luck.