Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 7, 2023 by Crystal Uys

bengal kneading blanket

Cats have a reputation of being aloof, but nothing could be further from the truth. Cats express affection for humans and for each other in a multitude of ways. Each cat is an individual, so not all cats will show affection in quite the same way, but there are some common ways how cats show they love you.

The 8 Ways Cats Show Affection

1. Bunting

When a cat rubs her face against you or head butts you, she leaves her scent on you. Cats have scent glands on the side of their cheeks. The pheromones located in those glands are associated with being friendly. In essence, your cat is performing a scent exchange with you. Ruby is a master at this: she’ll come up on my lap and rub her head against my chin or my forehead. She gets pretty carried away with this sometimes, chirping and purring at the same time.

2. Purring

Purring is a complex expression. Even though cats do purr when they’re content, purring can also be a sign of stress. Cats also purr when frightened or injured. In these situations, purring appears to function as a self-soothing mechanism. If your cat is purring while curled up in your lap or near you, chances are she’s purring because she’s content.

white cat purring
Image Credit: AleksDaria, Shutterstock

3. Kneading

Also affectionately known as “making biscuits,” kneading behavior goes back to your cat’s kittenhood. Kittens knead their mothers to stimulate the release of milk during nursing. Many cats display this behavior into adulthood, and it’s a sign that your cat is content and relaxed. Some cats are so relaxed while they’re kneading, they even drool – something I like to call a “happy drooler.”

4. Slow Blink

Jackson Galaxy calls the slow blink the “cat I love you.” This behavior was first identified by Anitra Frazier, the author of The Natural Cat. When your cat blinks at you like this, it’s  a sign that she’s relaxed and comfortable. Try blinking back at her to return the favor.

5. Bringing you gifts

Even if your mighty hunter is an indoor cat, he may still share his “prey” with you by bringing you toys, bugs, or anything else he may have caught.

The domestic red cat caught the bird and holds it in its mouth
Image Credit: Klimek Pavol, Shutterstock

6. Tail language

The tail is an important part of a cat’s body language. If your cat’s tail is straight up in the air with a little curve at the top, it means she’s happy and confident. Some cats will give a little flick of the curled part of the tail as a greeting. Allegra and Ruby both do this, and I adore being welcomed home like this.

7. Allogrooming

Allogrooming (two cats grooming each other) tends to happen most frequently among cats who are related, or cats who get along very well. This is thought to be a way cats show affection to each other. It also creates a communal scent. If your cat grooms you, it’s his way of showing you that you’re part of the family.

Two cats grooming each other
Image Credit: Amelimood, Shutterstock

8. Sleeping

Cats spend an average of 16 hours a day sleeping. Since cats are at their most vulnerable during sleep, the places they seek out for sleeping, and the position they sleep in, are an indicator of how much your cat trusts you. Choosing your lap as a favorite sleeping spot is a loving compliment.

How do your cats show affection?

Featured Image Credit: K Lim, Shutterstock

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