Cats are notoriously independent creatures. We think this is an evolutionary mechanism of the domesticated cat: train the human to be your servant! Don’t believe us? Next time you interact with your cat, see how often you do things (or avoid doing things) to win her approval…
Last week we shared the 6 Important signs that your dog loves you – proving that dogs’ body language is outward, enthusiastic and gregarious! Cats’ body language? Not so much. Compare the wagging, licking, zooming dog body language with the more subtle ways your cat communicates her love (and approval) of you.
1. Purry furry friend
The one unmistakable sign of a happy, relaxed cat is purring. If your cat is purring like an idling car engine around you, she’s super content and probably in love.
Disclaimer: Purring is also a self-soothing mechanism for a cat. Research on the effects of purring has even suggested that the vibrations can have a healing effect on cats’ injuries and inflammation. Cats purr when they’re stressed and some even purr when they’re hungry. Yes, she probably purrs to show you she loves you, but in this instance, context is important.
2. Telling tails
While a dog’s wagging tail tells us he’s so incredibly happy to see us, a cat’s swishing tail means “Leave me alone – I’m annoyed!” A dog’s upright tail means he’s on guard, but if a cat’s tail is sticking straight up and she’s trotting towards you, it means she’s happy you’re there and she’s coming to tell you exactly that. A tail tip that’s twitching from side to side on an upright tail may fall into the “I love you” category, but if the whole tail is involved in a slow side-to-side motion, it means your cat is still trying to decide what’s what.
Disclaimer: You’ll have to read your cat’s other body language to determine the context of her tall tail tales.
3. Love bites
Animal bites are generally NOT a sign of love, but obviously cats will go and complicate this body language once more. Cat bites – particularly kitten bites – can be a sign of affection.
Disclaimer: A little nibble won’t make you want to tear your hand away from those sharp teeth, but a hard bite with a vocal growl and painful clawing sends a different message altogether!
4. Gifts of love
A common sign that your cat loves you is when she brings you gifts. Oh, how cat owners wish for flowers and for chocolates fetched from the cupboard, but instead, their felines bring them dead animals and other unpleasantness from outside. It’s an obscure sign of love, but since cats are hunting machines and they spend a lot of their time doing it, any fresh prey is a hot commodity. Since your cat chooses to give it to you, it means she truly treasures you.
Disclaimer: What your cat is really doing is showing that she thinks you’re a lousy hunter and, despite this inadequacy, she still wants you to survive and be part of her pack. “I love you. This is how you should hunt. Don’t die – just eat this.”
5. Face my love
Cats’ faces are super sensitive, so when your cat rubs her face against you, she’s telling you she trusts you, feels safe with you and is being genuinely affectionate. The same goes for head butting and any physical contact she makes with her head and face. If she licks and grooms your hands, ears and head, this communicates a similar message – love and acceptance.
Disclaimer: Cats’ faces also contain scent glands, so while your cat is showing affection, she’s also marking her territory and saying, “You’re mine!” In terms of grooming, your cat may well have accepted you as part of her pack, but what she’s really saying is, “In this cat pack, we are clean and presentable – I can’t have you looking like this! Must groom the human!”
6. I knead you
When you get a kitty-cat massage from your beloved furry friend, she’s giving you an extra special signal of love. Being kneaded by your cat is a big sign of acceptance because she’ll only do it when she feels relaxed and generally happy to be around you.
Disclaimer: Kittens knead their mothers’ chests when they’re feeding in order to stimulate the milk flow. There’s no biological reason for adult cats to knead, so when they do it, it’s a sign of acceptance as part of their cat family. Or your cat is hungry and she sees you as a big old cat boob.
As you can see, cat communication is a complicated affair. Your cat’s displays and signs of love must be taken in a certain context, but if she’s purring, enjoys being close to you, bites you affectionately and rubs up against you, you’re probably a super-loved cat hero to your feline pack!