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How Your Cat Says 'I Love You'

A Guide to Feline Forms of Affection

One of the main arguments that dog owners often have for disliking cats is that they are not affectionate. This misconception comes from the more subtle ways that cats express their love for their humans. While not jumpy and loud with their preferred methods of endearment, cats certainly show their owners plenty of love and trust. Cats may seem distant and cold to outsiders, but all cat owners know the small tokens of appreciation and signs of trust that their cat shows on a daily basis. If you know how to read the signs, you will soon learn to pick up on even the smallest signs that your cat loves you. 

Maintained Eye Contact

Cats often show their affection in the form of attention. You can often tell which toy is your cat's favorite by how much time they spend playing with it. It is the same for how much they love their humans. Cats will make sustained eye contact or stare at humans that they enjoy. Sometimes cats will also blink slowly while making this eye contact. This is an additional sign that they are calm in your presence and trust you. If you blink slowly in return and maintain the eye contact, you are saying that you love and trust them in return. 


If your cat yawns while looking at you, it doesn't mean you bore them. Quite the opposite in fact. This is a sign of trust in cats. they don't yawn in the presence of just anyone, only those they trust. You can also try yawning back at your cat to show them that you trust them too.

Exposing Their Bellies

Unlike dogs, this is usually not a plea for a belly rub. To some owners this may seem more like a dare to play belly rub roulette. But for your cat, they are expressing their trust and comfort with your presence. Cats who lay on their backs often feel very relaxed and comfortable in their environment. This is a visible sign of how much they enjoy living in your house and spending time around you. 

Bringing You Presents

If your cat brings you an offering, it is a special sign that your cat is thanking you for taking such good care of them. Your cat appreciates you feeding and caring for them so much that they are repaying the favor by bringing you something tasty to enjoy. Clearly, no human is going to eat the dead mouse, bird, leaves, or toilet paper roll that a cat killed for them. But you should be honored that your cat thought enough of you to try to feed you anyway!

Purring or Vocalizing

This might be the most obvious sign on this list, but it is still very important to notice. Cats do not generally purr for other cats, they reserve this honor for humans and humans alone. Vocalizing, or meowing, for their humans is a form of communication that cats developed specifically for interactions with humans as well. The way two cats communicate is incredibly different from how a cat will "speak" to its humans. 

Putting up with Human Forms of Affection

If your cat lets you shower him with kisses and pick him up for hugs, then your cat loves you. Cats do not generally enjoy being squeezed and kissed at the will of another, so if your cat allows you do these things then you are very special to that cat. By incorporating some of their language of affection into your routine you can show your love in both human and feline ways!

Marking You As Their Territory

If your cat is always rubbing up against your legs and pushing their forehead against you, they are transferring their scent to you so that everyone knows you belong to them. Forehead to forehead presses are especially special because your cat is showing that they are fully comfortable being in your space and having you in their space.

If your cat does any combination of these behaviors, then you can rest assured that your cat really loves you! No jumping or slobbering required!

Read next: Great Dane Love
Alina Gallupe
Alina Gallupe

I am a graduate student studying Mental Health Counseling in Cambridge, MA. Long time reader and novice writer. I strive to combine my mental health knowledge and my love of writing to explore all topics related to the human experience. 

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How Your Cat Says 'I Love You'
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