8 Unmistakable Ways Your Cat Says ‘I Love You’

Head bonks, purring and kneading are just a few ways your cats tells you you’re loved.

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A gentle nuzzle is one way cats show their love of their owners. Via Gatto Mimmo/Flickr
A gentle nuzzle is one way cats show their love of their owners. Via Gatto Mimmo/Flickr
Rita Reimers

Many myths exist about cats and their ability to bond with people. It has been a long-held belief that cats only see us as their servants and not as real companions. As a cat mommy to many cats, and cat caretaker to thousands more, I can tell you with unwavering certainty that nothing could be further from the truth. Cats love unconditionally and with loyalty; they just have their own way of showing it.

If you’ve ever wondered if your cat really does love you, here are 8 ways your cat says “I love you” every single day. I am sure your cat exhibits some, if not all, of these loving behaviors.

1. Purrs and Meows
Is your cat purring so loudly that you think a tanker truck has pulled up in front of your house? Or is she meowing at you incessantly from another room, beckoning you to come and play? Oh yes, it’s unmistakable then. Your cat loves you. Purring is the highest sign of feline love and contentment. Coupled with meows, which is a sound reserved only for a cat’s special human, your cat is saying she loves you. My cat Sweet Pea will stand in the kitchen and meow until I come over to see what all the fuss is about. It’s her way to get me alone so she can have my undivided attention.

2. Follows You Everywhere
If your cat is constantly following you around, getting in your way, preventing you from getting anything done, then you have a cat who loves you. Cats want to be close to their humans and also want to be their focal point. For example, my cat Abby gets very jealous anytime I talk on the phone. She will sit beside me and paw at my arm until I pay attention to her. All my cats like to follow me from room to room as I do chores around the house, sometimes tripping me along the way to make sure I pay them some attention. And forget about going into the bathroom alone; I am not allowed to close the bathroom door unless I want them to rattle it off the hinges!

3. Belly Up
A sign of trust, love and contentment is when your cat rolls around at your feet and exposes her belly, or when she falls asleep belly-side-up in the middle of the room. Only a happy and trusting cat will show you her most vulnerable side. But remember, showing the belly does not mean it is an open invitation to pet the belly. Not every cat likes to be touched there, no matter how much they love you! A client cat of mine, TJ, has come to trust and love me. He will often show me his tummy, but I have learned the hard way not to scratch him there.

Belly rubs feel so good! Via Takashi Hososhima/Flickr

Belly rubs feel so good! Via Takashi Hososhima/Flickr

4. Kitty Presents
One of the most loving gestures a cat does is to bring her owner presents, which for an outdoor cat would mean bringing home her prey. Our wonderful indoor cats will, thankfully, bring you their toys instead. My foster kitten, Sonny, brings me his little pink mouse every morning. We play a little game of fetch; I toss it and he brings it back to me several times before I get breakfast ready. Perhaps one of the most touching things I’ve seen recently was when my cat Trouble passed away. The next morning, some of my cats piled up toys outside of the kitty cubby where Trouble used to sleep. That is true feline love.

5. Head Bonks
The head bonk is a sure sign your cat loves and accepts you as one of her own. Cats do this with one another too, as a sign of friendship. When I added a new young male cat, Colby, to my household recently, I knew he was going to be accepted when alpha cat BooBoo gave him a loving but firm bonk with his forehead. My Cupcake cat bonks my leg with her head incessantly while I am getting her food ready. Especially when accompanied by “elevator butt” (when a cat raises her rear end high into the air), a head bonk is a sure sign of loving affection.

A head bonk is a sure-fire sign you're cool with the cat.  Via Giphy

A head bonk is a sure-fire sign you’re cool with the cat. Via Giphy

6. Love Nips and Making Biscuits
I am not talking about full bites, but those gentle little nips a cat gives you while you are petting her are signs of total love and devotion. They are usually accompanied by half-closed eyes and deep purring. Some cats can get a little overly exuberant about them, but teach them to keep it gentle by saying “ow” and pulling away if the bite gets too intense. Gentle little nips are a high honor, and you are very special to your cat if you receive them. If you also get some kneading action along with the love bites, affectionately referred to as “making biscuits,” then you really are the cat’s meow!

7. Your Lap Is A Cat Bed
Do you watch television with a cat snoozing on your lap? Do you usually have a purry companion in bed with you at night? If your cat likes to sleep on or next to you, then you are a most beloved cat owner. My tiny 3-pound foster kitten, Smoochie, runs to sleep on my chest or in my lap the moment I sit down. And my big 16-pound cat, Lovey, isn’t happy unless he’s snoozing on my hip. I always have a few furry companions in bed with me all night. In fact, the first face I see in the morning is usually that of my BooBoo kitty.

“This is the perfect place to sleep.” Via Serena/Flickr

“This is the perfect place to sleep.” Via Serena/Flickr

8. Slow Eye Blink
In even the most shy of cats, the slow eye blink is a sure sign acceptance and love. My semi-feral cat, Brownie, has been with me since she was 8 weeks old, yet she retains much of her reclusive feral quality. Although she is very shy, she does return my slow blinks to let me know she appreciates and loves me. Look at your cat and blink your eyes deliberately and slowly while talking to her. If after a few moments she returns the slow blink, you have indeed made a love connection.

 It's all in the eyes. Via Giphy

It’s all in the eyes. Via Giphy

Your cat’s love may manifest itself in unique and special ways, but her love for you runs just as deep as your love for her. Now that you know the signs, you’ll be able to understand her cat love language and deepen the bond with your cat even more.

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Cats

Comments

  • Thank you for share. We are thinking about a cat pet for our new home. My wonderful kitty passed away after 17 years and I have not been ready to replace her. We are building a new home and I hope to find another kitty at the animal shelter in our new town. I miss having a cat very much. Again thank you for your informative post.

    Jean Ruscak May 20, 2015 10:27 am Reply
  • My boyfriend of 8 years took in ‘little old lady’…she does all the above…only with me though..

    amy May 20, 2015 4:45 pm Reply
  • Really appreciate and enjoyed your posting. I’m new to this “Kitty World”.
    I grew up with dogs. This little one showed up at my door (just a few weeks
    old) the day before Thanksgiving last year. To make a long story short, a
    year later ‘I Am Wrapped !!’. I had him neutered and have experienced most
    of what you described above. Thanks Rita and Merry Christmas.

    Chris December 10, 2015 6:36 am Reply
    • I have had several just show up and never leave. I always say the cats choose you.

      Lisa April 5, 2016 3:16 pm Reply
  • All the comments above all my cats do but one male I rescued had a behaviour problem of over grooming. Since I adopted him hes calmed down alot. I love him to bits. He follows me everywhere. Mt only problem is he’s constantly on my arms, feel weird saying ir but he is humping my arms like a dog does 🙁 iv been woken in night with him doing it. Iv no idea why he’s doing it. Is this normal behaviour foe a cat. He has been neutered

    Lynne January 15, 2016 3:45 pm Reply
    • My cat slinky will do that too ! He gets his jollies off by needing & biteing my soft Leopard bathrobe, & if I try to move it he MEOWS & acts like he’s going to bite me! I have same kind of booties & he worked his way down to them & I had to slowly remove my foot . He had my booty hanging out of his mouth! I don’t advise you turning your bathrobe into your cats love blanky! Sometimes he does it when I’m wearing it & have to get up to use the restroom ,he’s never to happy about that!

      Marilyn April 5, 2016 8:53 am Reply
  • My sweet calico, Emma, does all these things. She is a sweet gentle soul and your web post makes me feel that it’s not just all in my mind.

    p.s. This is a wonderful article!

    Mike San Martin March 1, 2016 10:42 am Reply
  • Thanks so much Mike, and everyone, for your comments!

    Rita Rita March 3, 2016 8:09 pm Reply
  • What a lovely post, you are an amazing writer, I had lots of fun reading through it and recognizing my cat’s behaviour within each line. Tyvm for this 🙂

    Isabela April 5, 2016 4:49 am Reply
    • Thanks so much, I am happy you enjoyed it!

      Rita Rita April 6, 2016 9:13 am Reply
  • My cat, a Himalayan, PangPang, will listen only to me. If I tell him to get off the butcher block or the dining table, he will, but only if I am the one telling him.

    Seth April 5, 2016 5:45 am Reply
  • One additional behavior, perhaps, is licks. I love it when my dear boy licks my hand. Do you consider that a demonstration of cat love?

    Charlie April 5, 2016 7:33 am Reply
    • Absolutely, when cats groom one another, they are also demonstrating their affection for one another. So by licking your hand, your kitty is showing his love for you.

      Rita Rita April 6, 2016 9:15 am Reply
  • Yeah! All those descriptions are perfect to affirm your kitty loves you. I’ve had many cats over the years and just now recently about 3 months I have a new one, the first few days he would just hide away for days and now we’re in love and unseparable. All the other cats would come and go from the house and when they’d fall in love with a female cat they wouldn’t come back. But this time the cat is inside the house all the time. He keeps my bedbound mom and me company and we love Coco. He’s like a live stuffed cat, really cuttly and lovable. Wish I could have attached a pic of Coco for everyone to see!

    Amy Lopez April 5, 2016 7:50 am Reply
  • Hi, my cat sleeps on my lap in the evenings, and loves to sleep on me on my legs when I go to bed, and all the time in day when I talk to him he closes his eyes at me, had him at 13 yrs of age from the cattery where I go to feed and clean them out.

    Jackie April 5, 2016 8:04 am Reply
  • My cat does ALL the above ????!!! But this one catches me totally off guard, when he feels he is being ignored & wants to play & my back is to him. He jumps up from behind me & grabs my butt & jumps down!!!????????????

    Marilyn April 5, 2016 8:35 am Reply
  • I have had cats my whole life and over the years have had the joy of experiencing the many displays of love and loyal affection cats exhibit. All of the cats were unique in personality and while they would show their love to the household, they would undoubtedly pick one special human companion that was “theirs”. I have been very lucky to have been chosen as the ” favorite” of several different cats, the first having chosen me as a small child. It was a wonderful experience having grown up with this special friend. For 18 years Storm cat was my best friend and the loss of her was devastating. Today I have a very unlikely friendship with a cat that chose us to be his new family. I admit that I found him to be slightly annoying at first, however, I’ve allowed myself to fall in love with this rascal and I am able to teach my child the love, wonder and pure magic that a really great cat can create. The mutual respect needed to form this beautiful bond is a great lesson for child to learn early in life. Cats are wonderful teachers.

    Erin April 5, 2016 9:11 am Reply
  • Very nice and informative post especially for cat-noobs like me lol . Never been close to a cat before and an year back , finally encountered these mysterious little creatures .

    I have a love-hate relationship with mango to the point that I have been bitten but also been loved , all and all he is an awesome pet but as a dog lover – mysterious and difficult to understand and that’s where this post will do me a world of good to get closer to him (fingers crossed )

    Mike April 5, 2016 10:36 am Reply
  • My Leo is a long haired golden kitten he is 8 months old and I have had him since he was 6 weeks old. He loves me so much he does all the things mentioned and he also has this certain meow when he’s ready for bed and time for his wet food before bedtime. I am thankful to have him.

    Loretta April 5, 2016 10:45 am Reply
    • Awwww so sweet!!!

      Rita Rita April 6, 2016 9:12 am Reply
  • Thanks so much for sharing!!! Elmo adopted me when I was working as a nurse at Parchman State Pen. He hid in my car and came home as a prison escapee! I had no idea even how to take care of my little hobo kitty, even tried to find a new home for him, as I’d never thought of myself as much of a cat person, had a crazy schedule, etc. Elmo has been with me for about 7 years now. I still don’t know what to think about some of his behaviors, but I’m pleased to report that I’ve recognized almost all of the ones you’ve reviewed!
    That said, the one I don’t understand is his tendency to raise his tail at various times, different rooms in the house and behave as though he’s trying to mark my leg. He doesn’t actually mark, he just backs up to me and acts like he’s “doing the deed.” What is that about???? He’s done this for ages. A lot of times, he’ll do this and lead me to his food bowls or to the little coaster I put his treats in. Is he just trying to get my attention?

    Betty Smith April 5, 2016 6:27 pm Reply
    • Hi Betty,

      One of my cats does that to me as well. Your Elmo is indeed “marking” you as his territory, and also letting you know he is very happy to see you. Thank heavens nothing really comes out!!

      Rita

      Rita Rita April 6, 2016 9:12 am Reply
  • My Mo also does all of these things. Sometimes I wonder if he is Buddha reincarnated. He also loves to just “hang” over my shoulder. My son can pick him up and hold him like a baby. I’ve never met a cat like Mo and he is perfect for our family.

    Jess May 12, 2016 7:02 am Reply
  • Omg!! I adore my babies and very good with any pet.i have 2 babies both 1/2 Siamese.they do all of the above .they both like to drink from the bathroom sink but only if I put my hands together and make a bowl shape.we have our own language like “was a” is water…some think it’s silly.but my babies provide me with dedication and unconditional love.they wake me up at 6a.m usually w/ a lick on my eyelids.(hurts) and will start knocking things down off of any counter to make noise. They don’t stop til I get up and do our morning routine.same at night.they know when I get home n are always excited to see me. And omg!! They love there snacks (wich now I have to spell out).anyway I am thankful for all comments and cat lovers.

    Cdainty June 11, 2016 10:31 pm Reply
  • I just finished reading your blog. I’ve never been a cat person until one kitten from a litter my dad brought home befriended me. I took her home and her personality quickly blossomed. My husband was less than thrilled but she quickly became a member of the family. I gave her a name but it just didn’t fit and she never responded to it. One early evening, I was talking to my husband about a woman I worked with; how loving and well meaning she was, but NOSY…just like our cat. Every time I said her name, our cat looked at me and meowed, then got up and body slam me with a drive-by pet swipe. The second night, she did the same thing every time I said the woman’s name. I was surprised by this behavior so I asked my cat if she wants to be called Lovely. Her response was overwhelming. I proclaimed on the spot “you shall be called Lovely from this day forward.”

    My lovely Lovely picked me and she picked her own name. I cannot imagine a better match. Oh, and my coworker…she was honored when I told her my kitty chose to be called by her name.
    Just because animals don’t speak words, doesn’t mean they don’t talk to us. You just have to read the signs.

    karin June 18, 2016 7:36 am Reply
  • Karin,

    I loved your story, thank you so much for sharing how Lovely got her name! I am like you, when I am naming my kitties I wait for the one they respond to, and that is what they are called 😉

    Rita

    Rita Rita June 18, 2016 6:35 pm Reply
  • I love this! I always though my cats constant motor boat purring and screaming when I don’t pay enough attention was just happening to me. He bonks me so hard sometimes I think my ankle is going to break, and he loves loves loves when I kiss on his belly. I’m glad my Grimm loves me.

    Melissa June 24, 2016 12:34 pm Reply
  • Awww I love hearing stories like this, Melissa! HUGS to Grimm from me!

    Rita

    Rita Rita June 24, 2016 6:07 pm Reply
  • I found my cat extremely lost is been sleeping in the bed all day between me and my boyfriend he don’t get up in all day for nothing only in the afternoon and them come back same place that is not him is different and am worry about him please help

    jeances m oppenheimer October 14, 2016 7:06 pm Reply
    • Hi Jeances,

      If your cat is acting listless and not his usual self, it is imperative to take him to your veterinarian ASAP.

      Please let us know how he is doing!

      Rita

      Rita Rita October 15, 2016 6:33 pm Reply
  • Thanks Rita for a great blog and post. I’ve been a, “cat person” since I was a wee small girl and have shared my life with at least one precious kitty my whole life since then. (I am now close to 60.) In fact one of my two kitties, Chickpea is now beside me in bed, pressed tight against me, patting me with her paw and purring like a motorboat.

    I can’t imagine ever not having a cat in my life. Life would be intolerable without their loving presence. I get so upset when people who have never lived with a cat claim cats are cold, independent, self-centered, unloving, unfeeling, disloyal creatures. Your excellent post has said what all cat lovers have always known and helped dispel these evil lies. Cats are just as unconditionally loving, dependable, loyal and sentinent as dogs they just have a way all their own of expressing themselves.

    Thank you for sharing your love and admiration for cats with us. If people would just stop treating cats like dogs and expecting them to act and react in similar ways they would gain a wonderful friend and loving companion for life. It might take longer to win over a cat but once won it is won for life if the respect and love is mutual. God bless you and your kitties.

    Cynthia October 17, 2016 9:33 pm Reply
    • Cynthia, I was just out of town for a week, a week without kitties. And I tell ya, I could not stand it. Life without cats is just boring… 😉 Rita

      Rita Rita November 1, 2016 5:49 pm Reply
  • Wow, thanks so much as I have four girls and adopted all four through different circumstance, I now have an idea while all are the same species they behave and show there love in many different ways. Thanks again

    Mary coons October 17, 2016 9:49 pm Reply
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    kaisha malcom October 17, 2016 10:09 pm Reply
    • Did you break up with your cat? This is a discussion about cats. Although, cats are magical Creatures, I fail to see any connection here.

      K. Crews November 1, 2016 5:09 pm Reply
  • I Have a new friend in my neighborhood, it’s a stray cat. I noticed her a few weeks back and begun feeding her. In the past few weeks our friendship has grown into love. Is there any advice you can give me on taking care of a stray cat?

    Rebecca Mullins October 27, 2016 4:44 am Reply
    • If you really love her, I highly suggest you co-living with her as in having her in your house as an indoor cat since there are many risks for a cat’s life outside from getting pregnant to stray dogs to cars to abusive individuals.
      For that, just pick a good vet and take her there first, the vet will give her all her vaccinations and will give you some tips on how to make her immune and healthy as an indoor cat. You probably will have to give her some deworming medicine for a few days and you will have to give her a bath first thing when you get home (provided she doesn’t have any open wounds on her) with both an anti-parasite solution and normal shampoo for cats and after that, you’re set to start your living together. <3 If you care about her comfort and health you will probably have to neuter her before spring comes. And make sure you change her litter frequently at first as she'll get rid of any worms and such when she's on her deworming med.
      If you're planning on keeping her outside, then I suggest setting up a comfortable "house" for her in your garage or yard as in having a waterproof box of some sort that'll shield her from rain and other animals and stuffing the box with warm pieces of clothes and having a tiny slope of sand for her litter plus regularly getting her some food, cat multivitamins and water (also milk if she's into it). If she's going to be outside there is not much more you can do for her since she'd be moving around all the time and you wouldn't be able to stay outside to make sure no one bothers her there.

      Hope everything goes great for you two =3

      Me November 22, 2016 1:09 pm Reply
  • I moved to my current home from another state after 57 years. I am on disability and do not get out much. Even though I didn’t really know it at the time, my wonderful friends feared that I was lonely. After they saw how I loved visiting with their cats they gave me a very unique and unbelievable birthday present- a certificate to pick out a kitty at the shelter and a lifetime delivery of food and litter. My cat Toby has lifted my spirits and is my best friend. He makes me laugh constantly and listens while I prattle on. I no longer feel alone, he is simply the best gift ever! We have our daily routines and he knows that when I do go out I will return with a special treat for him. Playing with him gets me up and moving around. What wonderful little creatures these guys are! Thanks for your article- I read everything I can get my hands on to learn as much as I can.
    (My friends say I spoil Toby terribly, but frankly that’s okay by me!)

    Barb October 29, 2016 4:29 pm Reply
    • How wonderful, Barb! And I love how your friends gave you the gift of choosing your kitty, rather than choosing one for you. And as you discovered, they actually do the choosing… I am so glad you and Toby found each other.

      Rita

      Rita Rita November 1, 2016 5:42 pm Reply
      • Thanks Rita! I know, I am a very lucky person to have such good friends (including Tobes of course!) All my I thought I was a “dog person” but Toby has opened my eyes to what special friends these cats are. I read all the other letters nodding my head in agreement, they extremely smart and very emotional and loyal pals.

        Barb November 3, 2016 6:39 pm Reply
  • I was at a cookout at a friend’s house 3 years ago. I feel something crawl up my leg and it was the cutest dark cali I had ever seen. The host informed me that it was a feral kitten and they had been trying to touch these babies for weeks. We guessed her age around 4 weeks. I tried to get up to go to the restroom she had a fit. My boyfriend held her. As soon as I was done she climbed back on my lap and slept for 3 hours or so. It was time to leave I put her back outside she climbed back up to me. The kitty adopted me. I bought kitty milk bottle fed her she follows me everywhere sleeps on my head or my arm . I .named her Kikat. I love her. She does all the above and gives me kisses and high fives lol

    Laura Brown October 29, 2016 4:51 pm Reply
    • Thank you for sharing the story of how you and Kitkat met, Laura!! You know, cats choose their people, and you were definitely the chosen human for Kitkat!

      Rita

      Rita Rita November 1, 2016 5:39 pm Reply
  • my kitty does all of the above comments. I am so in love with her. I will so miss her when she leaves me.

    Kevin November 5, 2016 4:06 am Reply
  • Such a good article! I love my cats so much. They are so different but they both do most of the stuff you mentioned. Sometimes when I kiss and pet my Maine coon too much, she will nip at me to say “enough already”. I love reading cat stories from other people. I was raised with the notion that cats don’t need anyone and don’t get attached like dogs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Erin November 6, 2016 3:01 pm Reply
  • I smiled all through your article, “8 ways your cat shows they love you”. Aren’t the just amazing? I took my T’boz home from an animal shelter 9 months ago, they found her freezing and starving last Feb. in 0° weather, her long hair all matted & frozen to her skin. She’s about 10 yrs old. Fast forward-she is “the love of my life”. And vice versa I believe ( I know)!! Thank u for verifying kitty talk😼 btw: being Maine Coon she is big & beautiful & happy again, like God intended😊

    Teresa H November 16, 2016 10:24 am Reply
  • Thank you for your awesome post. I was smiling and lovingly taking glances at my Master all along! <3

    Anyways, just wanted to add another sign to your list: Being used as her ladder!
    My Master usually uses me to get to high places, for example she climbs me to get to the counter or if she wants to jump on the table she won't jump straight upwards, instead she jumps on my laps and then on the table and honestly I just feel unbelievably flattered each time she does that since it shows she really trusts me and knows I'd gladly be there for her no matter what or basically that she thinks I'm worthy of her trust and faith (she's a feral cat and she really doesn't trust anyone and doesn't like getting close to people at all).

    We have all the signs here together except for kitty presents, not sure why but she never brought anything for me, she does tell me which toys she wants to play with though by standing near the toy, staring at me and meowing and "having her conversation with me" … maybe that's just how bossy she is or she thinks I get too spoiled if she does that? <3

    I, much like her, don't like people at all but I'm seriously in love with her, she's the most important thing to me ever to the point that any free time I have I rush back home to be with her and unlike how I am with people outside (dead serious, ready to fight, angry, indifferent) I melt into my real soft, loving, child-like, loyal self as soon as I see her and I don't even want to think about the fact that our lifespans don't perfectly match.

    Me November 22, 2016 12:45 pm Reply
  • This was the most on point article yet. THANK YOU.

    Since recently losing my mother, my Fat cat Ferb (Furbelle), has been extremely affectionate towards me. Theres almost a 6th sense about her.

    From my first pee to my last, she’s my girl. She also loves to ride in the car.
    Thoughts?
    I am 38 and I had never had cats till Furbelle. We also have our precious angel, Poof. Both found and choose my son and I.

    Sarah Maney November 27, 2016 8:16 pm Reply

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