Dog parents often comment that they prefer dogs to cats because cats ignore them, and are not as affectionate. In reality, cats show affection differently than dogs do. But, when you know what to look for, you will see that many cats are just as loving and in need of their version of cuddling. If you already are a cat lover, these examples will likely come as no surprise. Cats have been shown to bond with their favorite people. Let’s see if you are one of them.
Rubbing their cheeks against you
Cats do this on special people, in addition to furniture, etc. They do it to personalize their turf, and to sort of “claim you as his/her own”. At the same time this serves to help secrete oils from their facial glands, which have a characteristic odor that they recognize.
Tail tip twitching
As a veterinarian I have learned to recognize the “unhappy” tail wag, or the tail puffing out that accompanies it. This is very different from the happy fully erect tail whose tip twitches in a brisk movement, much like a white flag being shaken quickly to indicate “peace, friend approaching”. Or more accurately, they are showing you love.
Lightly touching their forehead against you
This most overt nuzzling is possibly the easiest to read as affection. It is also called “head bunting” and is shown to the very closest to the kitty in question. Specifically, your cat will face you and lower her head while leaning forward, causing the top of her head to touch your forehead, face or other body part. This interaction has been found to release endorphins in both you and your cat. Is it any wonder we love cuddling which our cats?
This is, again, a no brainer if you speak any bit of cat language. The steady, rhythmic sound is emitted when cats inhale and exhale, and is associated with contentment. I often see another version of purring during exams, which they will do when they need to self-calm or while nursing a litter. It is a lesser version of the special, full-bodied rumble, which is more of an adoring smile directed at you.
This is the opposite of what happens when guests arrive and your cat retreats to the solace of the space under your bed. Eye contact is reserved for those they know and trust. The bond is said to be sealed when they blink softly at you. It is like a kiss. Go ahead and softly blink back. They love that.
Kneading on your lap
This is one of my favorites! When a cat that I know and love responds by kneading on my lap, I just melt. Add in a purr, and you know you are in like flint! You may hope you are wearing thick denim if the nails in question are long and sharp. Feline behaviorists suggest that this action is a way of your cat recalling the happy memories of when she was a newborn nuzzling her mom to nurse. It is a nostalgic form of affection. Enjoy it.
Sitting on your or near you
Cats love warm places to nap and sleep. Your lap or pillow beats any cat bed. The fact that he prefers you to being alone is an honor.
Speaking of honors, as gross as it is:
Bringing you dead mice, birds and other so called “gifts”, of the recently killed variety is their way of sharing their prey prize with you. Cats are hunters by nature, and those that choose to deposit, say, a mouse head somewhere they know you frequent is a true sign of trusted friendship, as repulsive as it may seem.
Making a high pitched trill
Cats make many vocalizations. While working, I am accustomed to varied ones, most of which indicate unhappiness, and are mainly in the hiss to growl range. It has been determined that cats are capable of more than a dozen vocalizations. If she trills, trill back. She may enjoy it. She is conveying affection. I suggest you do the same.
Licking your earlobes and hair
This, like the presentation of dead kill, may not be one of your favorite things your cat does. But, the fact that you have been chosen to be groomed, which is what is happening, is yet another expression of you being in his inner circle. As Robert DeNiro’s character says in the movie “Meet the Parents”, you have been inducted into your cat’s “circle of trust”. In a multicast household, mutual grooming is a sign of trust and friendship. Only special cats are deemed worthy of these grooming sessions. If it’s you, count yourself lucky.
Hopefully you have gained insight into your cat, and cats in general.
If you want to read more about this subject, and cat behavior in general, I recommend:
Kindred Spirits, by Dr. Allen Schoen.