Dogs & Cats

How Your Cat Says “I Love You”

A cat may not be able to tell you it loves you, but it can certainly show you how much it cares. Her...

Do cats love the same way humans do? “Absolutely”, says Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviourist. “A friend of mine says it best: cats are the masters of detached love, meaning they can seem aloof and unfeeling. They express love in ways that baffle us”.

Here, Galaxy decodes seven of your cat’s signals of love.

1. Grooming
Grooming is the first way that kittens experience care. Mothers groom their kittens from birth, so licking and being licked become associated with the serenity of being with mum. “If litter mates are adopted together, they will groom each other for life”, says Galaxy. If your cat is licking you, it’s a sign of its affection.

2. Purring
A kitten is first guided to its mother’s nipples by her purr. As a result, purring is associated with milk and the feeling of satisfaction. And kittens purr back. “It’s life-affirming to them”, says Galaxy. “There’s debate as to what the purr signifies later in a cat’s life, but we do know they purr to sooth themselves -— the purring lowers their heart rate”. If your cat is not injured or stressed, purring in your presence is likely related to feeling cared for by you, just as it was cared for by its mother.

3. Rubbing
Cats show affection to other cats, dogs and humans by rubbing against them, which includes paw kneading. “When your cat puts its scent on you, it’s saying, ‘You and I belong together because I smell you on me and you smell me on you’. It’s a scent complement”. says Galaxy. Kneading is also a throwback to kittenhood, when a kitten kneads its mom’s teat in order to stimulate the flow of milk. Allowing the rubbing is essential to your relationship with your cat, and you won’t smell a thing.

4. Mock Spraying
Male cats spray concentrated urine when claiming territory. In claiming you, your male cat may act as if he is spraying—backing up toward you with a quivering tail—but will not actually produce a spray. “They have so many scent glands to rub, they don’t need to spray us”, says Galaxy. Unfortunately, an insecure cat may also show love by urinating in its owner’s bed.

5. Gumming
Is your cat rubbing its gums on you? That’s one more way in which your cat may attempt to blend its scent with yours.

6. Blinking
This visual signal usually consists of a stare, followed by a blink, an open eye, and then a soft second blink. “It’s actually a sign of trust, like showing you its belly”, says Galaxy. “It’s a form of communication I know works. Do it a few times with your own cat. They’ll begin returning it to you”.

7. Gifting
When your cat brings you a dead mouse, it’s not a present in the traditional sense. “What seems like an obvious sign of affection is something that comes from a dog or human-centric viewpoint. When a cat brings a dead mouse home, they’re saying, ‘I bring this thing to my safe place’. It’s more a demonstration that your cat feels supremely safe in the home you share. That, too, is a compliment”.

To return your cat’s affection, Galaxy recommends following its lead. “Experiment. Present your hand and see where your cat forces it. You’ll find out what your cat likes to feel”. Your cat will discover that people, too, are capable of feeling love.




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