LifestyleDeciphering the code. Understanding the intimate language of cat love

Deciphering the code. Understanding the intimate language of cat love

How to know if your cat loves you?
How to know if your cat loves you?
Images source: © Adobe Stock | EKATERINA FEDULYEVA

10:41 AM EST, January 20, 2024

Interpreting dogs' feelings is usually straightforward - when they're happy, they jump, wag their tails, and bark joyfully at their owner's sight. Cats, however, are rarely as overt in showing affection. Even though they were domesticated about 9500 years ago, they have retained a certain element of mystery and wildness. It's also crucial to remember that each cat has a unique personality, which is easily noticed by owners with more than one cat.

Cats differ in their behavior, needs - basic and emotional, and attachment styles. Some express their feelings more openly, others less so, but that doesn't mean they don't love their caregiver. With a little knowledge and careful observation, we can learn to fluently understand the language of cat love.

Are affections a cat's choice?

It is often said that the cat chooses its human - and there is much truth in this. Although we decide to adopt the cat, the animal also retains the right to decide. In a group of cats (in a shelter or foster home), usually, only some will approach us - those who have clearly taken a liking too. Anyone who has experienced this will instantly understand what it means.

Behavioral issues often arise after adopting a cat, especially one that may not have wanted to be adopted. Of course, they couldn't express this directly, but they will quickly show their new caregivers their negative feelings, such as aggressive behavior or refusing to use the litter box.

Basic signs of cat affection: Purring and head butts

One of the clearest signs of cat affection is vocality. Cats seldom use sound-based communication with each other. Meowing is a language they have developed exclusively for interactions with humans, to express their needs. Every new owner quickly learns to interpret individual meows, which sound completely different when the cat is hungry, angry, or just wants to play.

Another very positive sign is purring. When a cat purrs during petting, or even when approaching its human, it conveys that it feels content and relaxed in their company. The frequency of purring and the person towards whom the cat chooses to maintain complete silence can reveal their favorite human.

One of the strongest demonstrations of love is the so-called head bump, in which the cat rubs against the human's face and presses its forehead against theirs or another part of the body. Though sometimes painful, it is often referred to as a cat kiss. A caregiver who often experiences this might consider themselves truly loved.

Cats crave closeness when they feel affectionate

When cats feel affection, they want to be close and will often rub against the caregiver's face with their snouts to leave their scent and pheromones on them. In this way, they mark their caregivers since scent stimuli matter significantly in the animal world. If a cat will frequently follow and rub against you, take it as a sign that you've won their affection.

Considering that cats sleep for 12 to 18 hours a day on average, it is vital where they choose to do it. If they prefer to nap as close as possible to their human, either on a desk, a shelf, or right next to them on the sofa, it signals trust and affection. Particularly, a cat that voluntarily sleeps with its caregiver in bed demonstrates unconditional trust and a sense of security.

Although, unlike dogs, cats aren't expected to greet us eagerly at the door if it does run to greet us, it's an indication that it missed us. Besides, cats also express their affection through various physical gestures.

Presents and high tails: Endearing Signs of a cat's love

The tail is often a clear giveaway of a cat's feelings. A high-lifted tail that curves gently indicates joy and curiosity. Conversely, sad or frightened cats pull their tails in and, if threatened, puff it up to resemble a bottle brush.

Cats also express affection by squinting. Slow blinking with both eyes has far-reaching implications: "I love you." Reciprocating this gesture translates to a heartfelt declaration of love in their language.

The final and perhaps least desired show of love is gift-giving. Outdoor cats may present their owners with dead mice, small birds, or lizards. Indoor cats gifts may include toys, corks, bottle caps, etc. This behavior shows that we are accepted as part of their clan, and they are simply sharing their hunted games with us.

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