Top 7 Ways Cats Show Affection

Cats show affection in many ways, and while your feline friend may not do all the things on this list, they may engage in one or more of these behaviors when they want to say, “I love you!”

Cats and their parents share a special bond, but it’s not always easy to pick up on a cat’s body language. For one thing, some kitties don’t express emotions the same way as others. However, if you know what to look for, it’s possible to decipher what your cat’s telling you! In fact, cats express affection in multiple ways, and while it may vary from cat to cat, these are seven common ways cats show affection.

1. Purring

Cats purr for many reasons, so you can’t just say they do it to show affection. They purr when they’re content or relaxed, but also when they’re stressed or experiencing discomfort. However, in a comfortable and calm environment, purring is usually a sign of happiness and affection. If your cat purrs when you pet them or when they’re curled up next to you, it’s likely a gesture of love.

2. Head-Butting

Cats may gently bump their heads or rub their faces against you. This behavior, known as head-butting or bunting, is a way for cats to mark you with their scent, signifying that you’re part of their territory. It’s a bonding behavior considered to be a sign of trust and affection.

3. Kneading

When a cat presses their paws against a soft surface, alternating between right and left, it’s called kneading. A Kitten kneads their mother’s belly during nursing, and adult cats show affection by continuing this behavior when they feel comfortable and secure. If your cat kneads you or a soft object nearby, it’s a sign of contentment and affection.

4. Slow Blinking

Slow blinking, also called cat kisses or cat eyes, is a sign of trust and affection in feline language. When your cat looks at you and blinks slowly, it’s like saying, “I trust you, and I feel safe with you.” You can reciprocate by slow blinking back to help strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

5. Following You Around

Does your cat follow you from room to room or wait for you at the door? They’re not just waiting for you to refill their food bowl! It’s a sign that they enjoy your company and want to be close to you.

6. Presents and Play

Bringing you gifts like toys or even prey is a cat’s way of showing you they care. Additionally, engaging in play with your cat is a bonding activity that strengthens your relationship.

7. Licking and Grooming

Mutual grooming is a social behavior among cats. That means if your cat licks you, it’s a sign of affection. While it’s not the same as when cats groom each other, it still demonstrates a level of trust and closeness.

Remember that each feline friend is unique, and cats show affection in different ways. While these are common signs of affection, some cats may have their own ways of expressing love. Pay attention to your cat’s body language and behavior to better understand their feelings and preferences.


Animal Wellness is North America’s top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.

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