We often expect our feline friends to show us love in the ways that we’re used to – and then feel a bit disappointed when they don’t always appreciate our cuddles. But don’t despair, your cat has her own way of showing you affection. Here’s how you can better understand her behaviour:
Many recent studies suggest that your furry friend actually sees you as a member of her feline family – that is, as an overlarge cat (who’s not particularly good at hunting). If she licks or grooms you, take it as a good sign that you’re a beloved part of her clan.
Kittens show affection for one another through biting behaviour, and your cat might do the same to you. However, if those sharp little teeth start to hurt, don’t react badly as this could confuse her. Instead, direct her attention away with a fishing-rod toy or game.
Cats interpret eye contact with a stranger – whether feline or human – as threatening. If she’s happy to look you in the eye, and especially if she slowly blinks while doing so, she has lovingly accepted you as one of her own.
Cats mark their territory using the scent glands on their cheeks and head. By head-butting you, or rubbing her chin against you, your feline is affectionately marking you as hers.
If your cat presents you with prey she’s caught, she could be taking on the role of a teacher – just as she would show her kittens how to hunt. As since she’s never actually seen you catch your food, she simply assumes you’re a member of the family who needs to be taught.
A cat’s tail can be a good indicator of how she’s feeling, and can help you to get an understanding of her body language. If she approaches with her tail held high and the tip twitching from side-to-side, interpret it as international cat language for, ‘I’m friendly and I like you’.
Cats rarely meow at other cats; instead they use these vocalisations specifically to interact with people. And, just like us, a cat is unlikely to ‘talk’ to those she doesn’t like. If your cat does a lot of meowing (even when she’s well fed and warm) she’s interacting with you out of love.
There are many theories as to why cats knead, but experts believe that it’s a behaviour kittens learn in order to stimulate their mother’s milk flow. By practising this habit on you, your cat is once again showing that she accepts you as part of the family.
Sleeping… on you
As a natural hunter, your cat doesn’t like to feel vulnerable – and is especially wary of feeling this way while asleep. But, by sleeping on you, she’s exposing herself to you at her most defenceless and showing her trust and love for you.
Presenting her behind
Cats identify each other by scent, and so sniffing one another’s behinds is the equivalent of a very personal handshake. While presenting her tail to your face can seem a bit like a back-handed compliment, it’s actually a signal that you’re one of her most trusted, beloved people.