As I write this, my cat is sprawled out on my lap with her front legs outstretched (what I call her "Superman pose"), purring and sighing away. Before she finally settled down, she touched her nose to mine a couple of times, then started licking my hand vigorously (ow ow ow). It's not easy working this way, but at least I know these are signs that my cat loves me, and that's worth the slight inconvenience of a full lap and a hand missing a top layer of skin.
Don't let those dog owners tell you that their shaggy companions have the monopoly on showing affection to their humans, or that cats are unemotional creatures who just tolerate our presence in hope of a full food dish. Not so, says PetSmart's resident veterinarian, Jennifer Freeman, DVM. She tells Romper that although cats don't feel the romantic love we do, they still experience the release of the "love" chemical oxytocin in their brains when they're around the people they enjoy and trust. "Unlike dogs, most cats make you work a little harder for their affection, and they do not handle stress levels well, but both species are able to experience 'love,'" she says.
Cats also have a strong nurturing instinct that would put even the most helicoptering of human moms to shame. Think of all those sweet stories we hear about mother cats who "adopt" other baby animals — including this kitty who nursed a litter of hedgehogs, as covered by the BBC.
So what if our feline fur babies don't jump up on us or slobber our faces with kisses? They have plenty of other ways to show that we're just purr-fect (sorry about that) in their eyes. Do any of these sound familiar?
1. Rubbing Against You
When your cat rubs its head against your legs or gives you a cheek-to-cheek nuzzle, that's called "bunting," explained Your Spruce Pets. Bunting releases your pet's scent on you, in essence saying "You're mine, all mine!" Head-bumping is a similar sign; I once had a cat who used to bop his head under my chin when he wanted to be petted.
"Cats show their love by rubbing up against people and purring," says Dr. Freeman. Although cats will sometimes purr if they're feeling ill, most of the time that rumbling indicates they're feeling happy and safe in your presence.
Some lucky cat owners may notice that their pet greets them with chirping, trilling, or other soft sounds. They're distinctly different from the demanding meow you might get when the food dish is empty. As Catster reported, these noises aren't just cute; they're a sign of affection toward the people they consider special. So if your cat is chatty towards you, consider it quite the compliment.
Just like my hand-obsessed feline, your cat may enjoy licking you as a way to bond with you, explained PetMD. Cats often groom each other to share their scent and show affection. (Excessive licking, on the other hand, can be a sign that your cat is stressed out about something.) If having your arm scraped by that sandpapery tongue isn't your idea of a lovefest, the site recommended distracting the cat's attention by petting it, or simply walking away.
5. Following You Around
Do you feel as though you have a furry shadow trailing you from room to room? You should feel flattered. As Catster noted, cats often follow their favorite people out of curiosity and/or affection (not unlike kids). If you've been away all day, it can also be your pet's way of showing that they missed you. My own little fuzzbutt greets me when I get home by chirping and leading me to the bathroom, where she promptly sits until I leave. Ah, love!
6. Staring & Blinking
That inscrutable stare from those green or yellow eyes isn't as mysterious as it seems. "You may notice that cats like to hold eye contact as a sign of love," says Dr. Freeman. But you'll really know your kitty adores you if it looks at you, slowly closes its eyes, and opens them again. This "cat kiss" is a sure sign of love and trust, said PetMD, and the best way to respond is to give a slow blink in return!
7. Showing Its Belly
In the wild, a cat exposing its bare stomach would be inviting a quick gutting from a hungry predator. But in the comfort of their own home, a cat may roll on its back at the sight of its favorite person as a sign of happiness, said Psychology Today. Cats don't trust just anyone, so having one who feels comfortable enough to be vulnerable in your presence is one way you know you're bonded for life.
8. Tail Language
Just as dogs do, cats use their tails to express themselves. When your cat approaches you with an upright tail and twitches the tip, that's its way of saying it's happy being with you, says Dr. Freeman. An affectionate cat may also wrap its tail around your leg or arm.
9. Bringing You Gifts
It's not exactly a blue box from Tiffany's, but if your cat has ever deposited a dead mouse, bird, or other "find" at your feet, it's their way of saying, "Look at the yummy dinner I brought for you," according to HillsPet. Clearly, you're not the best hunter in the world, so your pet is trying to do you a favor out of love and loyalty. Praise your fur baby generously, then quietly get rid of the little present.