At some point in the journey of cat ownership, you’ve probably wondered if your cat loves you or merely tolerates your presence in exchange for food. You may even have wondered if your cat knows that you love them. If you want to make sure your cat knows exactly where your heart is, there are several activities you can incorporate in your daily routine that will let them know how you feel.
Your Cat’s Perception of Affection
Unlike humans, cats don’t have an easily recognizable way of telling you they understand your feelings and for communicating their own feelings back to you. The majority of cat communication is done via body language and occasionally pointed “meows.”
Similarly, cats will perceive affection differently than a human would and won’t be won over by you simply telling them, “I love you.” To show your cat you love them, you first need to understand how to interpret a cat’s body language, so you can mimic it to communicate or reciprocate in a way that shows how you feel.
Keep in mind that if your cat is not in the mood and is giving off signs of irritation, you should wait until they are in a more approachable mood before trying to demonstrate your love.
Learn Loving Body Language and How to Reciprocate
Learning to read the body language of your cat will be essential in knowing when your cat is open to affection and how to reciprocate it.
Petting Exposed Bellies
The exposed cat belly is one of the most trusting signs your cat can give you. For cats, their belly is the softest and most vulnerable to injury in the wild; to expose it to you voluntarily is a huge sign of trust.
If you notice your cat exposing their fluffy belly to you, you can attempt to pet it gently to show them that you love them back. Approach slowly from the side and give them a light stroke; if they react negatively, withdraw your hand and leave them be.
Cat Kisses (Slow Blinks) and How to Return Them
A cat kiss refers to your cat’s action of making eye contact with you, then slowly blinking their eyelids, almost as if they are falling asleep. This is a sign of trust and means that your cat feels love or affection for you.
To show your cat you love them back, wait until you make natural eye contact with them. Then, slowly blink your eyes closed, sending them a loving message.
Cat behavior specialist Jackson Galaxy demonstrates this technique here, if you’d like to practice your cat kiss skills before unveiling them to your kitty.
Inviting and Appreciating Bunting
Bunting is the technical term given to the action of cats rubbing their head or cheeks on things (or people). This action uses the scent glands around your kitty’s mouth, chin, and forehead to mark territory and leave a recognizable scent on you. It’s your cat’s way of showing you that they accept you as one of their family.
If your cat comes up to you and gives you a little head butt, this is part of their bunting behavior. Show them your love by leaning into the bunt and letting your cat stay there as long as they want.
You could also hold your finger out to them from time to time and let them sniff at it, as they will likely see this as an invitation to rub their cheek across your fingers, strengthening the bond between you.
Enjoying Nap Time Together
When your cat chooses to nap next to you or on top of you, they are showing you that they trust you enough to sleep next to you. In order to reciprocate this love, make sure not to make your cat feel trapped in any way or try to force them to sleep with you. Once they settle near you, you can give them a few gentle strokes to send a message of appreciation.
Showing Affection While Kneading
Most cats are open to receiving affection while they knead, so you can show them you love them by giving them pets, sending a cat kiss their way, or making sure they have a comfy blanket to knead.
Noticing When Your Cat Is Following You Around
When a cat follows you around, and it’s not close to meal time, this can indicate that they truly enjoy being with you. It also means that they see you as a member of their family and want to spend time with you.
Show your cat some love by having comfortable cat-approved areas in all of your rooms so that they can watch you from a distance when they feel like. You can also give your cat extra snuggles when they pull themselves out of a comfy position just to accompany you somewhere else.
Grooming Each Other
Cats who live together and are close will often groom each other. This is a routine called allogrooming, and it is used to show affection or dominance over members of the same cat colony.
If your cat starts grooming you, they are likely doing it as a sign of affection. While we don’t recommend attempting to groom your cat back with your tongue, you can lightly spritz an old toothbrush or a fine-toothed comb and then run that through your kitty’s fur. This will give them the comforting sensation of being groomed by a family member and will show your affection to them.
Show Love Through Care
Another great way to show your cat you love them is to give them proper care and enrichment; this will make them happier and allow them to feel more comfortable around you.
Engage in Play Time
The chances are that your cat spends a least a small part of their day bored. While cats do love to sleep and lounge around, they also need regular exercise throughout the day to stay mentally engaged and to keep them at a healthy weight.
Dedicating play time to spend with your cat is a great way to show them your love and to keep them in shape. Buy several toys (catnip scented or regular) and play with your cat, trying to find the one they like the best.
For cats who don’t really like toys, something like a cardboard box, a paper bag, or a simple scratching post can be all they need to feel loved.
Training Your Cat
Training your cat is one of the best ways to keep your kitty’s mind engaged. You can use this guide to start trying to train your cat, making sure to use highly desirable treats as a reward. Your cat will appreciate the mental workout and will develop more of a connection with you as a result.
Along with dedicated play times, you should set aside time to give your undivided attention to your cat. This could be before or after their meals when they are most likely to be calm-tempered.
Show your cat love by stroking them from the top of their head all the way to the base of their tail. Petting like this reduces both your and your cat’s blood pressure and stress levels.
Consider Adopting Another Cat
If your cat spends a large amount of time at home by themselves while you are at work, it could be a good idea to adopt another cat. Introducing a friend for your cat will keep them entertained throughout the day and make them feel more like they are part of a family unit.
Of course, adopting another kitty depends heavily on your original cat’s tolerance for other felines and whether or not they prefer to be the center of your attention.
Talk to Your Kitty
Even though your cat can’t understand your words, they can definitely understand your tone and body language as you talk back to them. When your cat starts meowing at you, it is a good idea to carry on a conversation with them in a warm, welcoming tone and to occasionally mimic the tone of their meows. This will help your cat feel loved and understood.
Make Sure Your Cat Is Healthy
Your cat’s health is integral in making them feel happy, loved, and cared for.
Bring Your Cat to Routine Vet Appointments
Your cat may not thank you for it in the moment, but regular vet visits are one of the best ways to care for your cat and demonstrate your love. Routine vet appointments can ensure your cat is healthy and happy, and can potentially catch any medical issues before they become serious.
Keep up With Proper Nutrition
Your cat needs proper nutrition tailored to their age and any health issues to ensure they are living their best life. A great way to show your love to your cat is to keep them on a balanced diet and supplement it occasionally with treats. Just make sure not to give them too many treats, as this can be unhealthy; treats should be 10 percent of your cat’s daily calorie intake.
Loving Your Cat on Their Terms
Showing a cat love is not always the easiest activity in the world, but it is one that always has a great pay off.
Let your cat know you love them by spending time with them, mimicking their loving body language, and giving them the best care that you can. Do this, and your cat is sure to feel that their love for you is completely reciprocated.