From kneading and purring to slow blinks and cheek rubs, cats show affection for their favorite humans in a variety of ways. But their methods can be subtle, particularly when compared to man's other best friend -- the dog. Understanding a few of the more common signs of kitty love can help you bond even more with your furry feline.
Has your cat ever sashayed up to you and casually bumped its head into your hand, face or leg? Though many call it head "butting," the term for this head-to-body contact is actually bunting.
It turns out there's a scientific explanation for this surprising behavior; cats convey their scent onto people and objects to signify ownership and affection. Scent glands are located in certain parts of their body, particularly on the sides of the head, around the front paws and on the tail. It's precisely these areas that felines nudge and rub on people and animals they feel close to.
Rhythmic kneading of their front paws on soft surfaces is a comforting action that's first learned when cats are small kittens. The in-and-out motion helped with nursing, and some felines keep up this behavior into adulthood as a soothing coping mechanism. Some may extend their nails when they knead, and others may not. It's personal preference rather than a reflection of their emotional state.
Cats are natural hunters, and this instinct remains strong even among housecats. Many kitties will show their love with a gift they caught themselves! If your furry pet brings you a small critter, toy or other item and drops it at your feet, don't be alarmed. Simply rehome the "gift" and give your kitty an "Attaboy!" and a sweet thank-you head scratch.
Some animal experts refer to cats' tails as emotional barometers, and as pet owners, we should learn to appreciate this highly visible cue. Loving cats will often wrap their tail gently around those they're attached to, or hold it up straight with a slight crook at the end, like a question mark. Does your cat sit beside you and wrap its tail softly around you? That's a clear sign of contentment and connection.
Don't confuse your cat's half-closed eyes with boredom. If those slow, deliberate blinks are directed at you, take them as visual cat kisses! A feline's trance-like look is an outward sign of trust, relaxation and affection. If you want to reciprocate, simply look at your kitty in the same way; maintain a soft gaze and slowly blink. (It's said to work with big cats as well, so try to woo that tiger next time you're at the zoo!)
About the Author
Tara Hall is an animal-loving writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. Her portfolio runs the gamut from small business marketing content to travel writing, fashion editorial and national music coverage.