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How Cats Show Their Affection

Jungla Luque
By Jungla Luque, Ethologist and dog trainer. Updated: March 21, 2024
How Cats Show Their Affection

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Cats have a reputation for being quite independent and detached from people, but does that mean that cats can't be affectionate? The truth is that the vast majority of people who have lived with cats can say that although cats can be quite independent, they are also very loving and affectionate with their human companions.

In this AnimalWised article we are going to elaborate on how cats show affection with their human companions. Understanding our cat's behavior will help us create a deeper bond with them.

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  1. Do cats love their owners?
  2. How do cats show affection?
  3. Affectionate cat breeds

Do cats love their owners?

When we compare a dog with a cat, the overwhelming way that dogs show affection in comparison to cats is clear. It seems as if dogs are unable to hide their joy when they see us. They'll wag their tails, jump from one side to the other, lick us or even whine. Cats, on the other hand, appear to be more introverted animals. Some cats will greet you at the door when you come home from work. They'll caress your legs or even meow. While other cats don't even bother getting up from the couch. Although these two animals show their love in different ways, this doesn't mean that cats can't feel love or don't have feelings.

We must remember that dogs have been domesticated longer than cats. This may be one of the reasons why they are more dependant on us and have adapted certain behaviors to co-live with us. Dogs are much more expressive than cats. This just means we need to be more observant of our cat's behavior and how they show affection.

In other words, a cat's behavior is more instinctive than a dog's. Their behavior hasn't evolved as much with human contact. This doesn't imply that cats don't love their owners, only that they way of expressing their love is different and sometimes we may not see it. We must simply see the signs that cats love us.

For your cat, you are his family and companion. This is because you provide care and protection, in the same way that their mother did for them. For this reason, cats that have been raised since childhood with humans, usually express themselves as puppies would to express their needs. Hence the belief that cats are selfish animals, but nothing is further from the truth. Cats do depend on you, as dogs do, for food, shelter and even love. Many people wonder if cats enjoy hugs and kisses, truth is, they often demand this kind of love. They understand that that behavior is how humans show their love. As their mother would with grooming and providing them with food. Continue reading to see how cats will show their affection towards you.

How do cats show affection?

Cats also have their own way of expressing their emotions towards us. Some may be clear signs of affection, while others are a little more subtle. Understanding your cat is key to being able to get along with him, so let's see the multiple ways of expressing affection that cats have:

  • Purrs: without a doubt, this is a clear sign that your cat is feeling happy and at ease. This is why when you are relaxing on the sofa with your cat, you'll often hear them purring. They can't help it, so this is an easy sign to spot when they're feeling affectionate and happy with your company.
  • They rubs against you: a cat will often head bump you, or rub against your feet. This is because they are leaving a scent that demonstrates their love and protection of you. Cats often do this with their feline family. However, because this isn't a normal human behavior, sometimes we don't recognise that they do it out of love.
  • Licks you: mutual grooming is part of the usual behavior in cats belonging to the same group. Just like a mother will groom her kittens or cats will groom their siblings. They leave their scent and care for the other cat. Cats will often do this to humans too, showing their care and affection.
  • They follow you everywhere: it's common for cats to have a deep attachment to their human guardian. This will often lead them to following their companion everywhere. Some cat companions even say that their cats will follow them to the bathroom, and if they close the door on them, their cat will start meowing from the other side.
  • They stare at you: now, sometimes a cat will stare at you with their ears back and even meowing. This means they're about to attack you. However, when cats stare at you in a relaxed way, ears relaxed, maybe even purring; this means that they may be trying to get your attention for some cuddles.
  • They greet you when you get home: it's normal for cats to come greet you at the door once you come home from work. Many will rub against your legs, meow at you or even ask for affection right then and there.
  • Shows their belly: when your cat shows you their belly, they are usually asking for attention and affection. A cat will only show their belly if they truly trust you, as the abdomen is a very vulnerable place for them.
  • Sleep with you: when a cat sleeps soundly with their human companion, it shows that they feel comfortable and safe with them. They can fully relax and feel protected in their presence.
  • Meows: a cat will meow at their human companion for many reasons. One of them is to seek attention and affection from their companions. Learn more on our article about the different sounds cats make and their meaning. This way you will be able to differentiate when your cat is hungry and when they just want you to pet them gently.
  • They bring you “gifts”: It's common for cats to bring their recently hunted prey (insects, mice, birds, etc.) to their owners as an offering. Although it may not be the most pleasant display of love for you, the intention is undoubtedly what counts.
How Cats Show Their Affection - How do cats show affection?

Affectionate cat breeds

As with people, each cat has their own personality and way of being. We cannot expect all cats to act the same. Although they will share certain characteristics, each cat was brought up differently and has their own personality. Some may be very affectionate, some may be quite adventurous, some will even enjoy swimming, other may enjoy being at home all day. If you've ever had two cats, you will have noticed how they are completely different in regards to their personality. Their personality will be influenced by two main factors: genetics and their environment.

We understand genetics as the innate biological predisposition of an animal. In many cases, this is determined by the race (or races, if it is mestizo). There are certain cat breeds that are known to be more affectionate, these include:

By environment we mean how the animal has been raised. This doesn't just mean their physical environment but also with whom they were brought up with and how. For example, if a kitten has been properly socialized from a young age, as an adult, they will have a very balanced temperament. Likewise, if a kitten goes through a bad experience, they will most likely develop a trauma that will effect their behavior as an adult cat. For example, if a kitten was attacked by a dog when they were young, as an adult they may be scared of dogs and even strangers. Another example, if a kitten was properly socialized as well as were raised with their human companion from a young age, they will most likely develop a strong bond and be very affectionate with their companion.

With all that being said, there are a lot of benefits of having a cat. They are indeed very loving animals that will appreciate you and enjoy having you in their life, as long as they are properly cared for.

If you want to read similar articles to How Cats Show Their Affection, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

  • Kristyn R. Vitale, Alexandra C. Behnke, Monique AR Udell (2019). Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans . Current Biology, vol 29, (18), 864-865. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.036

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