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How Do Cats Show Affection

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats show affection through hunting, following their owners around, headbutting and pawing, greeting at the door, grooming, kneading, meowing, purring, rolling, showing their bellies, sleeping beside their owners, tail gestures, and slow blinking.
  • Cats consider their owners as part of their colony and mark their scent on them.
  • Cats see their humans as their security blanket and are emotionally attached to them.
  • Showing affection to cats can be done by rewarding them with treats, playing with them, respecting their preferences, enriching their hunting skills, and grooming them.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Highly educated researcher and DVM with extensive experience in Clinical VetMedicine, Veterinary Nano Medicine, and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Saturday 13 May 2023
Last updated on
Saturday 13 May 2023
How Do Cats Show Affection
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Pets are family! So, every fur parent aims to give some love every day to their pets, like how we treat our family members. Dogs and cats reciprocate the love by showing affection. While it’s obvious when dogs show some love, it may be the opposite for cats. So, how do cats show affection? Let’s break down your cat’s low-key gestures of love that you might have missed noticing.  

13 Signs That a Cat Loves You 

Cats are known for being aloof and snobbish. So, it’s quite challenging to decipher when they are showing some love to their owners. Contrary to many who think they love solitude, cats are actually emotionally attached to their humans. According to a study, cats consider their humans as their security blanket. Cats may be moody sometimes, but they love and appreciate their humans.   

If you aren’t familiar with how cats behave, we’re here to guide you on how to tell if a cat likes you. To understand how they show affection, let’s go back to where they first experienced it. Cats felt love and comfort for the first time from their mothers. Signs like kneading, pawing, and grooming is habits they got when they were still kittens. Then, they carried these gestures of love with them through adulthood. Now, they practice these habits with their “human mothers”. 

Other cat ways of showing affection like hunting or marking scents are ingrained naturally in their system. These behaviors are remnants of the kind of life their wild ancestors had to go through a long time ago for survival. Let’s take a look at the specific signs of affection from cats through these little gestures that they do. 

Bringing You “Gifts”

It’s a cat’s instinct to hunt. This is a skill that is hard-wired in their brains because of their predator ancestry. Plus, they have been endowed with the right physical traits for a perfect chase. So, it’s not a surprise that even domesticated cats show off their hunting prowess. Then they share their bounty by offering you their “gift”, may it be a toy, a mouse, or anything they can get a hold of. Such a gesture is a sign that they like you. 

Following You Around

Kitties show affection when they follow you around the house or even outdoors. This is a sign that they like you and trust you. They love to be around you and keep sight of you. Sometimes, they may rub their bodies and weave along your legs while following you. 


When a cat headbutts you with its forehead, it transfers its scent to you. Similarly, it also rubs its cheeks on you, an action called bunting, for the same reason. Marking you with their scent reminds them that you are a colony member. You are family because you share the same scent. 

Greeting You At the Door

A more evident sign that your cats love you is when they greet you at the front door. They express their happiness to see you as you open and walk through the door. Their greetings are usually paired with other gestures, such as meowing or rubbing their bodies on your legs. It’s their way of telling you how you are and that they missed you. 


Cats groom themselves by licking their bodies. Not only do they do this to clean themselves, but also to maintain their scents. Cats determine their friends through familiar scents. So, they groom each other to exchange scents. So, the next time your cat licks your skin, hair, or even nibbles on your clothes, they are letting you know you are their person.


Cats learned to knead using their front paws when they were still kittens. They knead their mother’s breasts for more milk during nursing. Aside from that, this action brings them comfort and contentment after the feed. As an adult, they knead when they are relaxed. They usually knead as you stroke or pet them.  


Cat vocalizations or meows are part of their communication. But, if you noticed, cats don’t just meow to any cat. They only show this gesture of affection to familiar cats at home or to their owners. Pay attention to your cat’s meows. Short or quiet meows express contentment and comfort, especially if you speak to them softly yet happily. Longer meows that sometimes turn into a hiss mean they are done and wouldn’t want to be bothered anymore.


Similar to kneading, pawing is also a sign of affection from cats. It may not be a comfortable gesture from a human standpoint, but it’s your cat’s way of expressing its love for you. Sometimes, it may even escalate to gentle nips and is often perceived as aggression. But, oftentimes, it’s just feline affection.


A signature gesture of a cat showing affection is purring. This is another vocalization done by cats to express pleasure or contentment. You’ll often notice cats purr when you stroke or pet them. They are doing this to tell you not to stop petting them but also to show you some love and appreciation. 


When they’re in good mood, cats often run, bounce, then roll on the ground to get your attention. Not only do they like to bond and play with you, but also express love with this gesture. Sometimes, they even end up showing their belly which is the ultimate sign of trust. 

Showing Their Bellies

Unlike dogs, cats rarely show their bellies. And when they do, this often is not an invitation for a rub either. That is because the belly is one of a cat’s most vulnerable body parts. So, if your cat lies down and shows its belly, it’s the ultimate sign of trust. However, don’t get too flattered and start rubbing its belly, unless this is already your routine. Otherwise, your cat may react negatively with a scratch or bite. 

Sleeping Beside You

Your cat’s choice of staying close to you when they sleep is a sign of trust and security. Sleeping beside you means they assume that you will protect them while they sleep. Or, this may also mean they are ready to protect you as well if something happens. 

Slow Blinking

When cats stare at your eyes and take a longer time to blink, that means they trust you. It’s a way of showing confidence in you. They feel safe around you and they appreciate you. However, if you are a stranger to a cat, never look straight into its eyes as it may perceive it as a challenge. 

Tail Gestures

Cats also show they like you through their tail gestures. An upright tail with a hook or a c-shape right at the tip expresses contentment. A happy cat may even slowly wag its tail. This may also be a sign that you may pet your cat. 

How Do Cats Show Affection: FAQs 

Let’s take a look at the answers to the frequently asked questions about how cats show affection to their owners.

Do cats feel love when you kiss them?

Yes, cats feel love when you kiss them. However, not all cats would appreciate the gesture. Plus, their preference may also depend on their mood. But, cats sense the emotions of their human, so even if your cat dislikes your kiss one time, he still feels the love you have for him. Cats can even mirror the personality of their humans. 

How do cats choose their favorite person?

Cats choose their favorite person based on the length of time they spend with them. Cats who have stayed with their humans since they were kittens create that special bond. A match in personality and quality time are also factors when a cat chooses its favorite person.

How do I tell my cat I love him?

Know how to show affection using your cat’s language by rewarding your cats with treats, providing toys for fun, and spending time for play. Your cat will also appreciate it if you respect its petting preferences and provide it space to do what it wants. Enriching your cat’s hunting skills, staring gently through its eyes, and grooming it is also a way of showing love. 

Why do cats sit and stare at you?

Cats that sit and share eye contact with slow blinking are actually sending a message of love to you. Sometimes, they do this to get your attention and affection. But, if you aren’t close to the cat, staring directly into the eyes may mean aggression. 

Does a cat trust you if it sleeps next to you?

Yes, a cat who sleeps near you feels secure and safe around you. The cat trusts that you can protect him or that he’ll protect you in times of danger. You’re both vulnerable while you sleep, so your cat sees you as an ally to rely on when danger arises. 

Feline behavior may be a little bit harder to decode compared to that of dogs. But that doesn’t mean they love lesser than their usual domestic competitor. Cats show love deeply as any other animal; they have different ways of showing them to you. 

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