6 Surprising Ways Cats Say ‘I Love You’

Somewhere along the way, cats got a reputation for being aloof, which certainly isn’t helped by studies reporting that cats can recognize their human’s voice, but just choose not to come when called.

Regardless, any cat man or lady knows that felines are absolutely capable of showing loving and affection – even when food’s not around. Below are 6 commonly misunderstood feline behaviors that — much like the animal themselves – are actually easily misunderstood signals that your cat is trying to show you how much s/he cares.

6. Purring

Experts have come to understand purring as a feline’s primary communication tools, and — though cats also purr when they’re frightened or hurt — one that’s frequently deployed to indicate contentment, hence the high probably of purring when your cats nuzzling your leg or curled up in your lap.

5. Kneading

Kneading is one of those cutely confounding feline behaviors, but it’s actually just a thing cats do when they’re happy, content, and living their best cat lives. Baby kittens used to knead their mother’s teats as they suckled for milk, so your grown-up cat’s affinity for kneading pillows, blankets, and occasionally even people is generally considered a happy throwback to kittenhood.

4. Belly up

Cats might show off their stomachs for various reasons, but plopping down right in front of you with a well-timed belly roll is generally a sign that s/he is happy to see you. Let the belly rubs ensue.

3. Grooming

Everyone knows cats love to be clean, but grooming is a way for cats to mark their territory, too. Likewise, if your cat starts grooming you, too, don’t pull away, because this feline affection is typically reserved just for family members. Congratulations! Now your cat or kitten considers you part of the litter.

2. Straight Tails

Nobody misunderstands the affection of a dog wagging his tail in greeting, but cats — who say hello by holding their tails high in the air – welcome beloved humans with a simpler, more subtle gesture. Dr. John Bradshaw, the author of Cat Sense, describes the elongated tail, which often dips at the end into a figurative shepherd’s crook, as “probably the clearest way cats show their affection for us.”

1. Slow Blinking

When your cat is looking at you and then slowly blinks, it doesn’t mean that that she find your company boring. Rather, these “kitty kisses” are actually a term of endearment, according to cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy. “The concept of closing their eyes to you in a slow way is not something that they would do,” Galaxy explains in the following video. “They’re letting you know that they are vulnerable to you.”

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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