How Do Cats Show Their Love?

February 7, 2014

By Julia Williams

I feel sorry for people who perpetuate the myth that cats are aloof, unloving and incapable of (or disinterested in) bonding with their human(s). That’s far from the truth. I’ve had wonderful relationships with many different cats, and each has shown unequivocally that I am not merely tolerated because I dole out their CANIDAE food twice a day. Oh sure, they appreciate having good food and a warm place to sleep. We all do. But the depth of our relationship goes far beyond me being the provider of their creature comforts.

My cats cannot say “I Love You” in human words. They can’t express love by buying me presents or doing nice things for me. They may not be able to define what love is in the same way we do, but they can and do show love in their own unique ways. Here are 8 things cats do to express love.

They Want to Be Near You

When cats climb onto your lap, drape themselves over your shoulder or curl up next to you in bed, it’s not because they’re looking for body heat. They want to be with you because they love you, and they enjoy being in your company. Every night before I go to bed, I say goodnight to my cats. Annabelle is either in “her” box in the closet or one of the cat beds. Minutes later, she tucks herself in next to me, her head on my pillow and her paws over my arm.

They Comfort You

Felines make great “nurses” for two reasons. They seem to always know when you are hurting whether it’s a physical or emotional ailment. They also stay by your side to give you lots of healing purrs until you are feeling better. How can that not be a sign of love?

They Protect You

You only have to do a brief Google search to find dozens of stories of “hero cats” who saved their owners from injury or death by alerting them to carbon monoxide, fire, gas leaks and other dangerous situations. My angel-cat Binky even alerted me to the presence of a peeping Tom – she jumped on the dresser and growled until I looked out and saw the perv staring in my window!

They Head-Butt You

Cats have scent glands all over their body, including the chin, mouth, temples and ears. The purpose of the head-butt behavior (the technical term is bunting), is to deposit facial pheromones on people or objects in their environment. Since cats only head-butt when they are relaxed and friendly, it’s assumed to be a sign of affection and acceptance.

They Greet You at the Door

Dogs are not the only pets who have a sixth sense that tells them when their person is coming home. Cats do too, and many felines will also be waiting at the door for you when you arrive. I think it’s their way of saying “Where have you been? I missed you!”

They Purr

Cats purr for a variety of reasons, including when they are happy and when they are in the presence of their favorite companions. Sometimes they will instantly start their purr motor when you pet them; other times they purr simply from hearing your voice. In either case, it’s an expression of their love for you.

They Bring You Gifts

Yes, I know. The kinds of “gifts” your cat presents to you – whether it’s a real mouse or a catnip one – are not exactly treasures in your eyes, but they are a sign of affection nonetheless. The mighty huntress only shares her bounty with those she loves.

They Groom You

The first tactile experience a kitten has is being licked by Mom. When they grow up, cats lick other cats or their favorite human as a social exchange and an expression of love. My face, neck and arms get a “cat bath” every morning in bed, and it always makes me smile. Nothing says “you’re mine” quite like a thorough licking from a rough cat tongue!

Does your kitty have other ways he shows that he loves you?

Top photo by Krappweis
Middle photo by Brandon O’Connor
Bottom photo by Sunny Ripert

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  1. Carolyn says:

    I love this post!! Austin does all (well most of) those things!! I totally agree with you 🙂

  2. What a wonderful post – my life is overflowing with kitty love and I am forever grateful for all the expressions of love they share with me!

  3. Terre Pruitt says:

    I think our cat wags her tail. When she is “sleeping” or trying to sleep I can talk to her and she will gently move her tail – not really a wag, but a little lift up and down. Then when her father talks to her, she lifts up her entire tail and moves it A LOT. Sometimes she gives it that “rattle-snake” wiggle. But her tail always moves A LOT more when her father talks to her.

    Also, that brush up against you. You know the one, right? When a cat will be walking by you and curves her tail, side, or entire body just so it brushes up against you in a little rub. That seems like a loving gesture, yes?

    I, too, feel sorry for people that don’t know how loving cats can be. Thanks for helping spread the word!