Cats, as their owners will know, are pretty mysterious creatures.
We adore them, we love looking at pictures and gifs of them, but we also suspect they secretly want to kill us.
Now that we know the signs that mean a dog loves you, cat lovers will inevitably be wondering how their beloved pet feels about them.
With the help of cat behavioural expert Kira Nates, we sought to find the answer to the question we all ask: how do I know if my cat really loves me?
Or, as Kira says ‘feels affection’, because love is a human emotion we put on to our pets. Cats will be affectionate when they feel ‘comfortable’ and ‘relaxed’ around you, she says.
But anyway, here are six signs your cat really loves you. In their unique way.
1) Rubbing against our legs
Think about the way your cat interacts with you when you first enter the house. How likely are they to rub their body against you?
It’s because they need to remark their territory with their scent after you’ve been gone for so long and some of the active and important glands that do this are located on the side of its body.
‘Rubbing against our legs is to mark us with their scent,’ explains Kira
So in a way, it’s like they’re marking you as theirs. Awwwwww.
Well, at least they don’t pee on us, which is the other way they spread their scent.
Some purring, we should say.
Kira says it’s ‘usually’ a sign of one happy cat.
‘This is usually connected to a happy relaxed cat,’ she says. ‘Although purring can also be connected to pain.’
It can be a form of self-soothing during stressful moments, such as during a vet visit. Your cat is basically trying to block out other sounds with its own vibration to calm itself down.
Cats really seem to like you to pay attention to their head for some reason. And if you don’t, they’re going to let you know with a casual headbutt.
It’s another way they mark their scent on you, according to Cat Behaviour Associates, as they have scent glands on their face.
‘Headbutting us is a sign of affection,’ says Kira. It’s basically another way of them trying to say to other cats that you belong to them.
Like a jealous lover, almost.
It’s one of the things we’ve always wondered about cats – do they know that it hurts like hell when they knead you with their claws?
Do they know and… enjoy it….? In a weird, sadistic way?
Kira says that while it hurts, it’s actually a sure sign of affection.
It’s basically behaviour they learned from their mother: ‘Kneading is a sign of contentment. Cats did this to express milk from their mothers teat.
‘So it’s an action connected to trust and contentment and is a sign of affection.’
So…they love us like they love their mother? Well, guess that’s sweet.
5) Lying on our laps
If your cat does this, it shows they’re very comfortable around you says Kira.
However, it’s not true for all cats.
‘Many cats are not lap cats,’ she explains. ‘Especially long haired breeds of cats as they get too hot.’
So you shouldn’t be too upset if your cat just won’t settle on your knees or don’t linger long. Chances are they’re just a bit warm.
6) If their tail is upwards when greeting you
If combined with some of the above – like them rubbing against you and headbutting – have no doubt this is a clear sign they are happy to see you.
‘Sometimes the tail quivers also showing excitement,’ says Kira.
Bonus: Your cats bringing dead animals to you are not gifts. Sorry
Christmas Kitten Series
The mice and birds they leave on our kitchen floors are a primal instinct rather than a gift, according to Kira.
To call it a sign of love is just us sugar-coating the grisly gesture, apparently.
It’s an evolutionary behaviour that they haven’t left behind after being domesticated, says Kira.
‘Cats are hard-wired natural born killers and are excellent hunters, she says.
‘In the wild, a cat’s mother would have bought prey home for her kitten. Your readers’ cats are doing exactly the same for the humans who care for them and who they share territory with.
Our domestic cats have lost none of their evolutionary behaviours. We just see and label their actions with human meaning.’
While it’s a gift of sorts, it’s primal and it’s got nothing to do with love, we’re afraid. Just food.