Cats, as their owners already know, are pretty mysterious creatures.
We completely 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 just how their beloved pet feels about them.
With the help of cat behaviorist expert Anita Kelsey, we sought to find the answer to the question we all asking:
How do I know if my cat really loves me?
Or, as Anita says ‘feels affection’, because love is merely a human emotion we put on to our pets. Cats will be affectionate when they feel ‘comfortable’ and ‘relaxed’ around you, she says.
1) Rubbing against our legs
Think about the way your cat interacts with you when you first return home. How likely are they to usually rub their body against you?
It’s because they need to remark their territory with their own individual scents 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,’ explained Anita.
So in a way, it’s like they’re labeling you as theirs. Awwwwww.
Well, at least they don’t urinate on us, which is the other way they spread their scent.
Anita says it’s ‘usually’ a signal of one happy cat.
‘This is usually connected to a happy relaxed cat,’ she goes on to say. ‘Although purring can also be connected to pain.’
It can also 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 try and calm itself down.
Cats really seem to like you to pay attention to their heads for some odd reason. And if you don’t, they’re going to let you know with a gentle, casual headbutt.
It’s just 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,’ explains Anita. It’s basically another way of them trying to say to other cats that you belong to them.
Anita explains that while it hurts, it’s actually a sure sign of affection.
It’s basically behavior which they learned from their mother: ‘Kneading is a sign of contentment. Cats did this to express milk from mama’s breast.
‘So it’s an action connected to trust and contentment and is a sign of affection.’
And so…they love us just like they loved their mothers? Well, guess that’s sweet.
5) Lying on our laps
However, this is 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 doesn’t linger long. Chances are they may be just a bit warm.
6) If their tail is upwards when greeting you
If combined with some of the other behaviors listed 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,’ explains Anita.
Bonus sign: Your cats bringing dead animals to you are not gifts we are sorry to report!
The mice and birds they leave on our kitchen floors are a sign of their primal instinct rather than a gift, according to Anita.
To call it a sign of love is just us sugar-coating the true horror, apparently.
It’s an evolutionary behavior which they haven’t left behind after being domesticated, says Anita.
‘Cats are hard-wired natural born killers and are excellent hunters, she continues.
‘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 behaviors. We just see and label their actions with human meaning.’
While it’s a gift of sorts, it’s primal and it doesn’t have much to do with love, we’re afraid. It has to do with HUNGER!