How Cats Show They Love You

Siamese kitten and girl on bed
Cats show they love people many different ways. Getty Images/ Betsie Van Der Meer

Many cats love their owners just as much, if not more, than we love them and they like to show it. But how a cat shows their love and gives affection is very different from how humans show it. Some of the ways a cat shows they care are not how you would imagine, but in the cat world there are many ways to express oneself. 

  • 01 of 12
    Tabby cat sitting on a woman's lap
    Cats show love by purring. spooh/ E+/ Getty Images

    The most obvious and common way cats show their happiness and love is through purring. Cats seem to have a special little motor inside them that gets started when they are relaxed and enjoying something. You’ll often hear this rumbling, vibrating noise while you are petting your cat. Purrs can also mean your cat is upset but this is not as commonly seen or heard as a happy purr.

  • 02 of 12
    Calico cat rolling on rug
    Cats show their love by playing with their favorite people. Akimasa Harada/Getty Images

    Children tend to throw themselves on the ground and roll around in an attempt to refuse to move or while throwing a tantrum but when your cat does it, it means they are excited to see you. Cats may walk or run up to you and throw themselves on the ground and begin to roll around. This is a loving greeting and means they want your attention, especially if they show you their belly.

  • 03 of 12
    Orange and white cat head butting a man
    Cats show their love by head butting and bunting. Elizabeth Livermore/Getty Images

    Bunting is when your cat rubs their cheeks on you or an object, head-butts you with their forehead, or rubs their head on you. This is a way for your cat to leave his scent on you, basically marking their territory. Cats do this when they love something or someone and they may practice bunting on other pets or their favorite humans.

  • 04 of 12
    Tabby cat scratching a chair
    Cats may scratch things that their favorite people use to show their love. pkline/Getty Images

    Along with the spraying, scratching leaves both scented and visual marks of ownership to a cat. Pay attention to where your cat scratches the most. The areas most important to a cat are often associated with the owner

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  • 05 of 12
    Nursing Kittens Kneading Mother Cat
    Cats knead their mothers while nursing. John P Kelly/Getty Images

    Kneading behaviors hearken back to kitten hood. Kitten paws knead against the mother cat’s breasts to induce milk to be released. Adult cats continue this behavior when they’re feeling most relaxed, content, and loved, and that’s often when they're being petted on their owner’s lap. Kneading is a distinct expression of adoration.

  • 06 of 12
    Tabby cat carrying a toy.
    Cats have hunting instincts and like to bring their prey to those that they love. Purple Collar Pet Photography/ Getty Images

    Cats are adorable but they're still tiny carnivores who have hunting instincts. Cats may catch everything from toys to mice and they often share their bounty with those they love. Cats who present you with this bounty deserve praise. They wouldn’t bring these special gifts if they didn’t love you.

  • 07 of 12
    Girl with kitten held up
    Cats bond with their owners, no matter how old they are. Lori Adamski Peek/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Kittens play out of pure enjoyment and their most favorite playmate is typically a trusted and loved companion. Some cats may actually control the interaction of petting by moving just out of reach so you are forced to come to them. 

  • 08 of 12


    Cat sleeping in owner's lap
    Cats sleep on people they love and feel comfortable with. Photo 24/Getty Images

    Cats typically sleep up to 16 hours a day and since they are the most vulnerable while sleeping, the place your cat chooses to snooze must be a secure and trusted location. There is no greater loving compliment than a cat picking your lap as their favorite sleep spot.

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  • 09 of 12
    Cat eyes close-up
    Cats have expressive and vulnerable eyes. Pierre-Yves Linot / EyeEm/ Getty Images

    A kitty’s eyes are proportionately huge. As such, cat eyes are important assets for survival, yet extremely vulnerable. Cats that place their faces and wide open eyes near a person are expressing great trust and love. A slow “eye blink” from across the room is considered a cat kiss.

  • 10 of 12
    Ragdoll cat standing on floor with tail held up
    Tails held high are a form of cat body language. Alex Barlow/Getty Images

    If you've ever petted a cat, you've probably encountered the “elevator butt” pose which invites you to pay particular attention to the base of the tail. Cats love to have this body area scratched but they also use their upright tails to signal their love. When a cat approaches you with their tail held straight up and the end slightly tipped over it's a sign of love. A cat that holds their rear end up in your face is also a sign of affection. Kittens greet their mother with tails...MORE flagged high in respect and adult cats continue this behavior with their favorite people.

  • 11 of 12
    Kitten meowing
    Kittens meow to their mothers and people they love. Malcolm MacGregor/ Moment/ Getty Images

    Cats rarely meow at other cats. Typically, only kittens meow to their mothers and they grow out of the habit as adults. Your adult cat uses these vocalizations specifically to interact with people. Just like us, cats don't "talk" to people they dislike so even when your cat pesters you with lots of meows, remember that they are interacting with you out of love.

  • 12 of 12
    Cat licking their paw on the top of a couch
    Cats groom and lick themselves to stay clean. Westend61/Getty Images

    Cats spend an enormous amount of time self-grooming and friendly cats also groom each other. Cats that groom their favorite people, by licking their skin or hair or even nibbling or sucking on their clothing, indicates great affection. This spreads familiar scent and helps mark their person as an important part of the family group.