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18 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love

18 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love

✔ This article was reviewed for accuracy by a licensed veterinarian.

Cats are far more affectionate than your average dog owner will have you believe. I say this as a previous member of a dog-only household and someone who knows many dog owners. They like to tell you how cats can’t love you as much as a dog can. They’re wrong.

But you’re likely wondering: How do cats show love? They do so in many shapes and forms. In this article, we’ve broken them down into four larger categories, with specific examples within each category.

We researched the topic online, worked internally with our licensed veterinarians, and used our personal experiences to formulate this article. This approach enabled us to put together this extensive guide for your reading pleasure.

Always remember that your cat is a part of your world, but you’re their entire world. Do your best to absorb this information and strengthen the bond between you and your cat. Now read on to learn more about how your cat shows love!

An overview of ways to explain: how do cats show love?
This graphic shows some popular ways cats show us they love us.

Body Language

A cat tail which curves at the top. How do cats show love?
Why would you question my question mark tail? I love you. Now get me catnip, baby.

Your cat’s body language is indicative of how they feel about their environment and their people. How your cat positions its tail, ears, head, and the rest of its body enables them to communicate with people.

#1. Tail Posture

A raised tail is a sign of love and respect. If your cat’s tail is raised and slightly curved at the top – almost in the shape of a question mark – it’s a way of showing their love for you. Cats often raise their tail like this for other cats and people they care for, and to signal they may want to play.

If your cat wraps their tail around you – they love and trust you! This is a sign that your cat is very comfortable with you.

#2. Exposing their Stomach

If your cat doesn’t offer up their stomach, or rarely does – this is to be expected. Your cat has their primordial pouch along its stomach. This is a sagging layer of skin and fat hanging from the belly, often covered in fur. People unfamiliar with the primordial pouch may think their cat is a little chubby, but they’re not! Well, maybe your little guy is, just a little bit 😉

The primordial pouch is there mainly for protection. Your cat has evolved to protect its stomach and the organs within it. So, if your cat exposes their stomach, and even allows you to rub it, it’s safe to say they love and trust you!

But beware – early on, your cat may expose their stomach, seemingly inviting you to rub it, and then grab on to you with some light bites and scratches. One of our cats lets me scratch his stomach about 75% of the time, but 25% is saved for surprise attacks.

#3. Slow Blinking Eyes – The Cat Kiss

Have you ever seen your cat blink very slowly while making eye contact with you? This is known as a “cat kiss.” This is a sign of trust and love.

Cats have fewer facial muscles than dogs or humans. As such, people can have trouble understanding why a cat stares at them, not knowing that a cat simply can’t convey its message through its face.

Cats also use this signal in peaceful interactions with other cats. Contrary to a long stare with another cat – which can lead to confrontation. 

So next time you see your cat do this, feel free to return the favor. This lets them know you feel the same way. You can also perform a slow blink and see if your cat responds with the same movement. 

#4. Rolling Around

Cats who roll around may be excited to see and greet you. Your cat may be asking for attention and some time to play.

#5. Placing Their Butt in Your Face

If you trust someone, you may let them borrow your car or lend them some money. Your cat’s trust in you may be shown through their openness to shoving their butt in your face. How sweet is that?

Your cat does this because they are comfortable around you and love you. A cat would never turn their back on a person or animal they are unsure of. Enjoy this love and trust from your feline roommate.

Unless they just used the litter box – which my cats do often. #PlugYourNose

Physical Touch

A cat kneading a cat bed. How do cats show love?
I knead a human body to do this on. Preferably one that doesn’t mind a few scratches.

Contrary to popular belief – your cat likes physical contact with the people and animals they love. This is as long as you’re petting the areas they like (e.g., head, shoulders, cheeks, nose and base of their tail). 

#6. Kneading You 

Your cat started kneading as a kitten, and never lost her skillset. Many people joke about cats “making biscuits” when kneading, and they’re not entirely off.

That is because kneading is an instinctive trait in cats. Once used during nursing as a kitten to stimulate milk production in their mothers, cats knead into adulthood as well — making biscuits for the whole family.

Your cat kneads you because they are comfortable with and love you. They also knead to prepare to nap, get comfortable, or even mark their territory by releasing pheromones from their paws.

#7. Bunting (The Headbutt)

Bunting is when your cat rubs their head and face on you or even gives you a minor headbutt. Cats do this to release their pheromones or “scent” onto you. 

Cats have the feline facial pheromone (FFP) and this is released when bunting with humans, animals, or objects.

Cats bunt you because they love you and want to leave their scent on you.

#8. Sleeping Near You or On You

There is nothing cuter than your cat taking a catnap on you. That is unless you have to pee, go somewhere, or do anything other than just continue to lay there.

Your cat sleeping near or on you is a strong sign of love and trust. Cats want to sleep in a safe area as they’re more vulnerable when resting. Nothing is safer than being near their human, so they feel more comfortable sleeping when you’re close by!

#9. Nibbling You

Your cat may provide you with some gentle nibbling when you pet them. This is not a sign they want you to stop – it’s the opposite. They’re enjoying the interaction and want it to continue. 

It’s important to remember that your cat is a predator with teeth to match. If they were trying to hurt you they could. So, next time your cat nibbles on you remember that love involves a little bit of pain! 

#10. Grooming You (Licking You)

You’ve likely noticed how often your cat grooms itself. My cats wait all of 3 seconds after I pet them before they immediately clean the area I just touched. 

Cats groom, or lick, their humans as a sign of affection. This affection can also be shown by licking your hair or even sucking on your clothing. 

#11. Caressing You with Their Paw

Your cat may caress you with its paws when you’re hanging out. Kneading and caressing accomplish similar goals of releasing their pheromones onto you and showing their love for you.

Just don’t make any quick moves or the caressing may turn to scratching. And if scratching shows love – I’m the most loved man in the world!


A cat meowing towards a person. How do cats show love?
I want my food now, Sharon! I also love you. But food first!

Every morning and evening, as I prepare my cats their wet food, I hear the cries of their people. The longer I take, the louder they get. I’m not sure if that’s love or abuse, but we’ll go with love for this article.

Cats often purr and meow around their people. These can be signs of love and affection, and not always demanding food at a rapid pace! 

#12. Purring

Purring is a much more complex behavior than many understand. But on many occasions, a cat’s purr means they are enjoying their interaction with you and love you. It can also mean they want the interaction to continue, as they know you may be able to hear and feel the purring.

Kittens start purring a few days after they’re born, and veterinarians suggest that this purring informs their mother that they’re doing well, as well as assists in bonding between mother and kitten.

Cats continue to purr as they get older, and on many occasions, do so to bond with their owner.

#13. Meowing

Cats rarely meow at other cats. They meow at their mother as a kitten, and then their humans as they get older. Even though the meow may be received as an unhappy cat, it can also be used to communicate with someone they love. If you often speak to your cat, they may be chattier in response to you.

And cats are much smarter than you may guess. Your cat doesn’t have one or two meows – they have a ton of variations in their meow arsenal.

They test out sounds early on in their relationship with their person. The sounds that get the reactions most frequently stick, and they drop the others.

Other Actions 

A cat playing with a rope toy. How do cats show love?
This rainbow cloth is beautiful. I must destroy it.

Some of your cat’s displays of affection may not be as obvious as others. The below actions are included in that list.

#14. Following You

Cats like to be near the people they love. So as mundane as your task might be, your cat may join you just to be near you. 

Some believe that cats can also tell when you’re feeling under the weather – and they may be more inclined to be around you when that happens. The 6th sense of necessary cuddling.

One of my cats follows me just about wherever I go. I work from home, so she is with me for the majority of the day. My other cat will follow me into the bathroom whenever I go. Which isn’t what I expected when I got these feline roommates. 

#15. Greeting You at The Door

A complaint you hear from dog people about cats is that their dog loves to see them when they get home and runs up to greet them. They claim that cats don’t do this. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Cats show us love by greeting us at the door. Not all do it, but some do – including mine. They may not lick you and jump on you, but they still show affection in their own ways. These include bunting against your legs, walking close to you and rubbing their body against you, meowing to say “hi”, and just being near you.

#16. Sharing Prey With You

Cats are natural-born predators. They work hard to capture their prey, which can include real animals like mice, or bugs, and even their toys. 

When a cat shares their prize with you – it is a sign of love and respect. If you have an outdoor cat that brings you a mouse or tiny rabbit or an indoor cat that brings you a toy, just know how loved and respected you are. This hunting and sharing of prey is especially common with female cats because they have to hunt and bring prey for their kittens. Since domestic cats are often spayed, they bring prey to their owners instead.

Before I was born, my parents had a cat. My oldest brother was a baby, and the cat would return home with small dead animals for the family. This was pre-internet too (roughly 1990), so my parents had far more questions than answers! 

#17. Playing With You

Cats don’t play with strangers. They play with humans and animals they trust. Your cat plays with you because they love you.

They also play because 16 hours of sleep leads to necessary outbursts of energy. 

#18. Peeing On Things When You’re Gone

No, this is not a joke. Cats release their scent in many ways, including their paws, their mouth, and even their pee.

Cats can sometimes pee on the floor, or other areas of the house, in attempts to leave their scent and mark their boundaries. Your cat may pee in hopes that the scent left by their urine draws you back home – effectively bringing the family back together.

However, this shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence. If your cat is often peeing outside of the litter box, you should work with your veterinarian to better understand what’s driving this behavior. 

How Do You Show Your Cats You Love Them So They Understand?

A human petting a cat. How do cats show love?
Yes, Mike, that is the spot. Keep the pets coming, until I decide out of nowhere I no longer want them, and that you’re annoying me.

Now that we know the many ways a cat shows you love – it’s a good time to explain what you can do to show your cats you love them back. 

  • Play and exercise with them. The more you play with your cat the stronger your bond will be. 
  • Slow blink at them. Give your cat a cat kiss right back. It’s pretty incredible if you try this – your cat will return the slow blink from time to time.
  • Allow them to lay with you. Unless you need to move, allow your cat to lay near you or on you for a bit longer. They trust you and want to be near you, so return the favor.
  • Allow your cat to rub on you. Your cat instinctively releases their pheromones on people and objects they want to mark as their own. 
  • Pet your cat. Cats generally enjoy being touched around the face, due to their facial glands. This includes right below the ears, their cheeks, and under the chin – around the neck. A cat that trusts you will allow for their stomach as well.
  • Groom your cat. Not all grooming is a sign of love for cats. Cutting nails or brushing their teeth aren’t as fun for them. But, using a comb to brush your cat and rid them of excess hair is both good hygiene and a sign of love. Plus, they like love how it feels.
  • Provide cat treats. People love when you give them food they like, and so do cats!
  • Provide catnip. Even cats like to get a buzz on. Providing your cat with catnip, combined with a toy, is something most cats enjoy very much. However, not all cats respond to catnip.
  • Take them to the vet. Your cat may not love you for this, but this is vital to ensuring your cat is healthy. Indirectly, they will love you for keeping them healthy.

The Bottom Line

Cats are affectionate animals that show their owners love in many different ways. The list we provided is vast, but every cat is unique and may have specific ways to show you love.

So, next time someone tries to tell you that cats aren’t affectionate – feel free to simply tell them they’re wrong and show them this list. Our work is always veterinarian-reviewed, so you can have confidence in what you now know!