How Do You Know Your Cat Loves You?
Studies have shown that if you put a cat in an unfamiliar environment, they do not miss or look for reassurance from their owner as other animals might. Although arguably an efficient test of how attached an animal is to its owner, as a cat owner myself, I struggle to come to terms with this cold-hearted finding. Aren’t cats simply too curious and territorial to exhibit the archetypical ‘attachment’ behaviours? The absence of their owners is bottom of their priority list, yes, but not un-noticed
Unlike other house pets, in particular dogs, cats are incredibly independent, but this doesn’t mean they idolise their owners any less. There are actually a number of ways in which your cat subtly shows you just how much he/she loves you.
First, you may find that your kitty has made a habit out of greeting you at the door – they’re excited to see you. I would put money on the fact that as soon as I set foot in the front door, tiny thundering footsteps will soon follow, down the stairs and right to my side. You may also find that your cat follows you around like a shadow. Shower time becomes a guilt-ridden struggle, with an always meowing fur ball sat outside the door, and carrying anything down the stairs becomes a cat obstacle death-trap. But, we should consider ourselves lucky – our cats just wants to be around us.
Do you ever find yourself in an awkward, intense stare-off with your cat? A lot people believe that if a cat stares directly into your eyes, they’re becoming agitated and could well be plotting the many ways he/she could kill you. However, as with humans, staring can also be a very loving and affectionate behaviour. It’s unusual for a cat to make eye contact and they only do this with people they like and feel comfortable with, so consider yourself lucky! As well as the occasional stare, you may find that your cat quite often carries out long, slow blinks. It is said that cats kiss with their eyes, so if your kitty gives you a slow blink, you’ve just received a kitty kiss – it’s like cat poetry!
Believe it or not, cats actually do not communicate with each other by meowing – they only use this form of communication with humans. It’s their way of telling you they want something; be it a stroke, food, some attention or to go outside. But it’s also their way of communicating their fondness of you. Similarly, purring is another way in which you can tell your cat is enjoying your company. Purring slows down your cat’s heart rate, so if your cat is purring away on your lap, he/she is very relaxed.
Because cats are natural born hunters, they can be very vulnerable and see a lot of things as a potential threat. You may have noticed that your cat doesn’t like his/her belly rubbed – that’s because their stomach is the most unprotected part of their body. Feeling safe is important to cats so if he/she sprawls out in front of you, that’s a sign that he/she feels loved and protected.
The most common way for you to tell that your cat feels relaxed and loved around you is kneading. Kneading is the action kittens use on their mothers’ tummies to stimulate milk flow, which is why many people believe that cats continue this motion at more mature ages as a form of nostalgia – reminding them of their kittenhood. If your cat carries out this motion on you, remember that not only are they expressing their admiration for you, they’re also fluffing you up to ensure you’re comfy enough to nap on.
General physical contact is a key behaviour in a relaxed and loved-up cat. The most common form of physical contact your cat may demonstrate is the head-butt. Although this can be seen as quite an aggressive action, or simply an annoyance, your cat is actually claiming you as ‘theirs’. When cats head-butt, they are actually depositing pheromones on to you and marking their territory. You may also find that your kitty has a habit of tapping – something my cat has down to a tee. Whether I’m getting on with work on the laptop or just relaxing watching TV, my face is very often the victim of a series of kitty slaps. Annoying, yes, but it’s only because she’s craving my attention. Licking is another form of physical contact your cat may exhibit. It’s not common for a human to be deemed worthy of a grooming session, so if your cat makes a habit out of licking you, then you should consider yourself incredibly lucky. Grooming is one of the most obvious signs of love, so know that you have been welcomed into the circle of friendship. Additionally, cats have rough tongues so it will also save you the hassle of exfoliating!
Overall, cats, just like every other animal, have their own way of showing their admiration for their owners. If you’re lucky enough to share your life with a cat then you’ll understand that they’re constantly connecting with us, whether it’s via tapping, grooming or talking – cats are beautiful, affectionate animals with the ability to form close bonds with their owners. The battle between dog-lovers and cat-lovers may never come to an end – constantly arguing that one is more loyal, loving and cute than the other – but the vicious cupboard love cat theory is truly long gone and genuine cat affection is here to stay.