Feline Affection And The Way They Show It

It’s a plain fact, universally recognized, that cat owners absolutely adore their kitty companions. But the converse? It’s up for debate. While some are confident that their cats show definitive, lasting love day in and day out, others argue that this pseudo-affection is actually just aggression in disguise. Some go so far as to say that our cats not only hate us, but bring us dead animals to show us what they’d like to do to us (if they were 20x bigger in size.) However, regardless of what side of the debate you are on, there are a few things that cats do that are undeniably precious, innocent, and almost drip with affection. Are these actions their way of showing us they care? Let’s explore.

Do Cats Feel Affection?

In short, yes! Cats actually have a pretty complex system of emotions. Even more, they express this emotion in a variety of different ways. (But we already knew that - didn’t we? Cats are extremely smart.) Cats can cycle through a variety of different emotional states, from excitement to affection to fear. Unlike dogs, cats express how they are feeling in ways that are universal to the feline family while at the same time being unique to each individual cat.

Do Cats Show Affection?

It’s one thing that cats have these feelings, but do they express them to us humans? We love to personify our cats by guessing what they’re thinking and feeling. But what’s actually going on in their heads? Behavioral experts say that yes, they do express affection towards us. But it may not be in the most straightforward way, though. While cats cuddling with us do tend to indicate affection, there are many more indicators of the love that cats have for us.

How Do Cats Show Affection?

  • Cuddling
    Perhaps the most obvious way that cats show affection is when they cuddle. Known for being rather selective as to who they let into their life, cats choosing you to cuddle with is a pretty blatant way of showing you that you are in their favorable graces. Most cat owners agree - it’s the greatest feeling in the world to be one of the Chosen Ones.
  • Purring
    When cats become content or happy, they purr. This can happen when they’re doing a variety of things, from relaxing to hunting. However, if they are hanging out next to you and letting you pet them or even falling asleep, purring likely indicates that they are feeling very content in your presence.
  • Cheek Rubbing
    Perhaps the sweetest and most intimate way that cats show affection is when they rub their cheek against your face. Generally, this means that a cat is trying to leave their scent on something that they love. (Psst… that’s you.) Another possible meaning, though, is if somebody has rough facial hair.   Then, the cat probably very much enjoys the scratch they receive from this rubbing action.
  • Rolling Over
    Exposing their belly is a bold move for a cat. Lying on their back is not the most powerful position.  So when a cat rolls over to show you their belly (or, heaven forbid, let you rub it), they are showing you that they trust you not to attack them.
  • Following You Around
    A cat simply wanting to be in your presence is a pretty good indicator of affection. If a cat didn’t favor you, they likely would not follow you around. If you are lucky enough to have a cat that waits by the door for you to return, follows you around the house, and prefers to hang out in the same room that you are in, then you have a pretty loving friend.
  • Eye Contact
    You can tell a lot from a cat’s eyes. Generally, when a cat is squinting, blinking often, or even closing their eyes, it means that they are happy being around you. On the contrary, a cat who is stimulated and on the hunt will have dilated pupils and bright, open eyes.
  • Tail
    Cats who approach you with a high tail that is slightly curved at the end probably likes you well enough. If, when you’re petting a cat, they stick their butt in the air (we’ve all seen this), it probably means that they are thoroughly enjoying the petting process and would like you to continue. What an honor.
  • Licking
    In many species, licking is a primary way that animals show affection. Cats are no exception. When in kitten hood, baby cats are groomed by their mother. They reciprocate this action into adulthood to show their maternal feelings for other cats or humans.
    • Bringing You Gifts
      We use the term gifts loosely, here. Cats sometimes bring us dead animals. It’s not the best sight to see, but just take comfort in the idea that your cat likely intended this to be a gift or peace offering for the one they love - you.

    Cats aren’t the easiest type of animal to demystify. But that’s why we love them, right? Cats are complex and mysterious in the most beautiful way. While each cat is unique, there are certain ways that we can universally tell that our cats love us. And hey, even if they don’t, they have a pretty adorable way of hating us.

    And, at the end of the day, the effect they have on us is the best of them all. Cats can cure a heartache, cheer up their owners, and be the best friends that we’ve ever had.

    And that’s pretty cool.

    At Petozy, we are committed to facilitating playtime between our cat friends and their owners. After all, playtime is one of the hallmarks of cat-human affection. That’s why, with our Petozy Sisal Cat Scratching Toy, we pulled out all the stops on making your feline friend a happy feline friend. (And consequently, making you a happy human friend.)  If you liked what you read and want to be notified when new articles are posted, then keep in touch by subscribing to our e-mail list. 

    Explore our other articles about cats if you want to read more content.

    How does your cat show affection? Let us know in the comments below.


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