How do cats show affection? Here’s a look at some of the ways cats show affection through body language, postures and vocal expressions.
How do cats show affection? Kissing, stroking, tail wagging, chirping and meowing are just some of the subtle ways cats show affection to people close to them. Because some cat displays of affection are subtle, they are often misinterpreted and sometimes overlooked. So how do cats show affection? In general, cats do not show their affection for humans in loud and boisterous ways. They don’t wag their tails or hug their loved ones like some dogs do. Instead, cats whisper their affection. Here are a few displays of feline affection that all cat parents should know.
1. Cats show affection with their eyes
Slow blinking is a common sign of cat affection. Photography ©KandM-photography | Thinkstock.
How do cats show affection with their eyes? When a cat looks at you with half-closed eyes and blinks slowly, it’s a good indicator that he trusts you and enjoys your company. These special winks are called cat kisses and are returned. You can also tell your cat that you love her by kissing her. This display of affection conveys relaxation, contentment, affection and trust and helps build and strengthen your relationship with your cat. Your cat may respond by blinking more slowly.
2. Cats show affection with their tails
Tails are a good way to tell what your cat is feeling. Photography ©Photodisc | Thinkstock.
How do cats show affection with their tails? The tail is an emotional barometer that accurately conveys emotion by the way it is held and positioned and by the degree of fur matting. Combined with body language and other indicators, they convey a range of emotions from fear and aggression to affection and happiness. While most people readily recognize signs of fear and aggression, they are not as aware that tails are also an indicator of affection in cats.
Cats often show their emotional affection by wagging their tails. They show their affection by wrapping their tails around the legs and arms of their favourite companions. Sometimes cats express their warm feelings by relaxing next to their mates, physically touching them or leaning on them with their tails. Although I try not to anthropomorphize, this gentle behavior reminds me of holding my best friend’s hand.
In addition to wrapping and touching their tails, kittens express their happiness and warm feelings by brushing the root of their tails while wagging them subtly. At the same time they hold their tail straight with a slight curve at the top. This behaviour is sometimes called the ‘happy tail dance’. It is usually accompanied by a poignant wink.
3. Cats show their affection by rubbing their cheeks.
Check rubs are another sign of cat affection. Photography ©Matteo Viviani | Thinkstock.
How do cats show their affection by rubbing their cheeks? Cats rub their cheeks to greet people they trust and feel safe with. Cheek rubbing is a sign of affection from cats and is also an invitation to make contact. Kittens have scent glands on their cheeks that produce pheromones. In addition to the trust and affection they show to their favourite companions, felines use these behaviours to show that they belong and to mix their scents with those of the people to whom they are attached.
For cats you don’t know, you can encourage socialization by extending your index finger towards the cat at nose level. It doesn’t matter if the cat is a few metres away or across the street. If she wants to greet you, she will come up to your finger and touch it with her nose, then turn her head until your finger is on her cheek. If she trusts you, she will brush her cheek against your hand to indicate that she is open to social contact. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship!
4. Cats show their affection by baking buns
Cats show affection through head bunting. Photography ©CasarsaGuru | E+ / Getty Images.
How do cats show their affection by baking or making buns? It’s a sign of affection from a cat marking you and mixing its scent with yours. It’s a social behaviour that shows affection in cats and has a dual function. In addition to showing trust and friendship, petting is a sign of ownership. The scent produced by the glands on your cat’s head is transferred to you when your cat strokes your head.
5. Cats show affection through the tongue
Certain vocalizations . Photography ©graphixchon | Thinkstock.
How do cats show affection through cat sounds? Chirping, purring, purring, purring and meowing often express affection and trust. Although mother cats chirp and meow to soothe their kittens, these soft sounds that express affection are often reserved for special people to whom cats are close. Affectionate emotions are also expressed through other vocal expressions such as meows and strange purrs – some are soft and kitten-like, others are louder.
Purring can also indicate that the kitten feels safe and secure around you. Her purring can be a sign of affection, especially if accompanied by kisses and other expressive displays of affection, such as touching you with her paw or tail.
6. Cats show affection by grooming themselves
A cat who grooms you may be showing his affection for you. Photography ©Murika | Thinkstock.
How do cats show affection by grooming each other? Cats that feel bonded and close to each other groom each other (allogamy). This behaviour helps them relax, shows trust and creates a sense of community – important for recognising family members and friends. Humans are not spared this display of affection from cats – grooming is not limited to people of the same species. Cats sometimes lick their human friends to show their affection while mixing their scents.
7. Cats show their affection by standing on and around you.
Even if your cat isn’t a lap cat, hanging out around you still indicates that she loves you. Photography by 5second/Thinkstock.
How do cats show their affection by following you? Felines like to be surrounded by people for whom they have affection. Your special kitten may rest next to you or nap on your lap. She can position herself to touch you – she can rest her back against your leg or reach out and stroke your paw. Even if your cat isn’t a lap cat, it can let you know by its proximity that it feels an attachment to you.
Some cats follow their owner around the house. Food is not part of the equation – they follow their human because they like being with them. Others follow those they feel an attachment to from room to room.
The most important things about affection and communication in cats
Cats are very good communicators and use a combination of body language, postures and vocal expressions to express their feelings. Although cats’ affection is subtle and sometimes complex, they have a wide range of ways of showing affection and trust to the people they are attached to.
Tell us: In your experience, how do cats show affection?
Thumbnail: Photography ©igor_kell | Thinkstock.
By Marilyn Krieger , January 1, 2020