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The Purrfect Partners: How Cats Show Affection

How do you know if your cat really likes you? Unlike dogs, whose tails wag and bodies shake each time their owners are nearby, how cats show affection isn’t always as obvious.

Part of that is due to our feline friends’ independent nature. By being less needy, the way they show their affection may be less overt or less physical than the more demonstrative dogs.

Still, anyone who’s spent time around a cat has surely started to pick up on certain signs. Though they may not always be the sweetest signs (another dead bird?), they are significant – and they do let us know just how our cats feel.

To make sense of our sometimes confusing cats, we’re decoding how cats show affection with 10 of our favorite signs. 

rubbing cats chin gently

10 Ways Cats Show Affection

The Slow Blink

“When you lock eyes with your cat, that’s amoreee.” 

While that may not be a great fit for the Dean Martin song, sharing a long look into your cat’s eyes followed by a slow blink is how cats show affection. Some say it could be a way of demonstrating their comfort in your presence. 

Feeling the love? Then feel free to return the favor with a slow blink of your own.

The Curved Tail

When a cat is around other cats or people that it likes, its tail is often straight up with a bit of a curve.

While a tail that’s straight up might signify territorial, that slight bend suggests a comfort and confidence that should let you know that your cat likes spending time with you.

The Nibble

Though we tend to associate animal bites with aggression, a soft nibble or gnaw can actually be positive.

These kitty love bites are how cats show affection to their owners. It is especially common if you are petting them or your hand is near, as it could suggest they don’t want you removing your hand.

The Pee Spot

Has your cat left a little puddle of pee while you were away? 

While cleaning it up may be a hassle, at least you can take it as a sign of their affection. That’s because they are using the pee to mark their territory. The urine’s scent is a sign of home. In essence, when they are left alone, they urinate as a way of helping lead their family home.

The Knead

When your cats paw and knead your belly, it’s not just to tease you for the extra slice of pizza you ate.

In fact, that alternating kneading pattern is innate to cats from the time they first nurse as kittens. The motion signifies that they feel content and safe.

The Dead Animal

In terms of how cats show affection, the occasional dead rodent or bird is up there.

Food is rare in the wild, so if they’re willing to share their prized catch with you then you are considered a close family member. While it may seem unsightly, it’s the equivalent of your partner surprising you with takeout.

The Headbutt

A headbutt from your cat isn’t their way of asking you to make space on the couch, it’s actually how cats show affection.

A head bump or rub is their way of getting close to you, marking you with their scent, and showing the world you are their person. Plus, it’s pretty darn cute.

The Lick

A cat’s lick can mean many things. When you’re the subject of that licking, your cat could be getting your attention, want a pet, trying to clean you, or even trying to bond.

What do those all have in common? They’re all part of how cats show affection.

The Belly

When a cat shows you its belly, you can be sure you’re in the inner circle of trust. 

Given the sensitivity of the belly, cats won’t show it to just anyone. Still, don’t take it as an open invitation to rub it (no matter how soft it may be). Though some cats may be open to it, you could also be asking for a quick claw to the palm. 

The Purr

Last but not least, the most classic sign of all: the purr. If cats purr or meow near you, especially while you pet them, you can be sure they’re content in your presence.

That soothing, guttural purr or the chirping, affectionate meow may sound different, but they are on the same conversational spectrum. And what are they saying?

That they love you!

Caring for Your Cats

Want to show your cats as much affection as they’ve been showing you? Part of that comes in the form of regular visits to caring, expert veterinarians. 


With over 25 years of experience, our team at Catonsville Cat Clinic is here to support you and your feline friend. To schedule your appointment, feel free to give us a call today.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 8th, 2022 at 9:00 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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