As a cat person myself, I will happily argue with anyone who thinks cats aren't affectionate. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a cat, and in fact, I currently have cats in two different countries (thank goodness for in-laws)! Since my parents have a big old barn, we always used to have a selection of cats running around when I was growing up. Some were jerks, some were downright odd, but almost all of them were affectionate in some way or another. If you're new to the feline game, here's how cats show affection, because it can be hard to tell.
Cats show affection by kneading you with their claws, purring, and even flicking their tails in a certain way, among other ways. Catster explained that while cats can be abrupt at times, "Cats are very good communicators, using a combination of body language, postures and vocalizations to express their feelings." The key, of course, is to be able to pay enough attention to actually pick up on those indications that your cat is affectionate.
If you think your cat isn't showing you any love, have a peek at some of these signs that have nothing to do with nuzzling you on the couch while you watch Netflix. Some cats show their feelings in unconventional ways, like by bringing you a mouse than actually cuddling with you.
I remember the first time I noticed one of our cats kneading me and promptly declared that cat a total weirdo. What I didn't realize was that all cats knead and it's absolutely normal. It turns out, there are many reasons why they might look like they're practicing their baking skills: Cats knead to activate milk production in their mamas when they're kittens, to show affection, to prepare their bed, and to mark an item as their territory, according to PetMd.
Cats are known to head-butt so much, there's an actual term for it: head bunting. That same cat I thought was an oddball for kneading us with her paws so much was also the prime head-bunting culprit. What an affectionate cat she was, and we didn't even realize it at the time! Petful explained that head bunting by a cat is a good sign: "By rubbing this body part against one of yours, she is identifying you as one of her friends."
3. Bringing Gifts
The last thing you want to see when you open the back door is a dead creature your cat killed the night before. Or maybe worse, just a few organs from the creature your cat got to the night before. Either way, before you yell at your cat for bringing you something so yucky, think again. Your cat is probably bringing you a gift to show his affection. Pet trainer Katie Finlay explained in Hillspet that "she means well and this behavior really is a sign that she cares deeply for you."
4. Showing Their Stomach
Dr. Joanne Righetti explained on the Purina website that cats can actually show their affection toward you by showing you their stomach. "If your cat exposes its stomach region while relaxing or playing, this means they trust you." However, you shouldn't necessarily take this as an invitation to pet a cat on the stomach, as "some cats dislike being touched in this region," she said.
Purring is apparently more complex than most of us realize. While purring can be a sign of a cat's affection, it can be a little trickier than that. Cat Behavior Associates reported that cats purr "when they’re happy, content and relaxed but they also do it when they’re scared, sick or injured." They can do it to soothe themselves, but they might also be trying to soothe a predator. How tricky is that? Most likely, if you're petting your cat and she doesn't have anything that could trigger anxiety around, it probably means she's showing you affection.
6. Grooming You
Cats might seem like they spend an inordinate amount of time grooming themselves and even grooming other cats in their family. Catster explains why cats try to help groom other cats and even people: "The behavior helps them relax, shows trust and builds a community scent — important for recognizing family members and buddies." And apparently, cats also want to ensure they can smell you coming as well, "Cats will sometimes lick their human friends, displaying affection while mingling their scents."
While a cat that's waving its tail in a snake-like motion is probably anxious or getting a little peeved, a cat that has a quivering tail is probably showing you affection when he sees you. Cat Time said, "If the cat’s tail quivers and he dances on his back feet, he is giving you an ecstatically happy greeting."
No matter what, remember that cats aren't aloof, they are just very specific communicators if you know what to look for.