One of the many subtle ways that our cats communicate their affection for us is through their tails. Animal behaviorist Marilyn Krieger says that a curved tail, puffed up at the base and subtly quivering is a surefire “I love you” from your cat.
Also, a tail twined around an arm or leg of a favorite human is a cat’s attempt at “holding hands.”
Unfortunately, we humans lack the anatomy to return these signs of affection, but there are several other feline love cues that we can mimic in order to show them we care.
1. Half Closed Eyes/ Slow Blinking
Fans of cat whisperer, Jackson Galaxy know this one well! The famous kitty therapist uses this technique to sooth fearful cats into trusting him on his Animal Planet show, My Cat From Hell. You can use this simple trick in everyday life to express your love and kinship with your cat.
Krieger refers to these slow blinks as “cat kisses” and your feline friends will clearly read your expression of love if you mirror this behavior. When your kitty is relaxing by your side, get down to her eye level and mimic her affectionate gaze and sleepy lids for a tender moment.
2. Scent Mingling
Want to know if a cat is interested in becoming your friend? Krieger recommends extending one index finger at nose-level. If the kitty takes the bait and touches her nose to the tip of your finger, you’re in! The cat will then rub her cheeks along your hand in order to mingle her scent with yours – a true sign of friendship and trust.
You can continue this practice at home with your own felines. Making the first move shows that you are willing to interact in a language they can understand. You are also giving them the option to not engage at that exact moment, which cats appreciate from their humans.
3. Head Butts
My personal favorite form of cat lovin’ is the head bonk! There’s something so endearing about a kitty purring like a freight train and bopping their little head off yours! When cats do this they are showing their trust and affection while also claiming ownership of you as their human.
Krieger does not recommend initiating this behavior, but if your cat is offering up the bonks, it’s an opportunity for you to declare your mutual feelings. Lean into the head butt and allow your faces to rub against one another. You may end up sneezing, but your cat will appreciate the effort!
4. Vocal Cues
Recent research has shown that feline vocalizations are far more diverse and complex than most humans realize. In fact, most domestic cats are far more vocal than their wild cousins, a fact that behaviorists feel indicates their desire to communicate with us in a way we can relate to.
Our cats have their own sweet series of mews, purrs, chirps and chortles that they reserve for those special to them. When your kitty starts “talking” try mimicking the pitch and tone of the sounds right back. This, accompanied by physical cues, will help reassure your cat that she is safe and loved.
Although not as common as some of the other signs of affection, some cats actually attempt to groom their humans just as they would a feline companion. If you can tolerate that sandpapery tongue, then accept this as a major term of endearment!
While licking your cat would be a great way to show your mutual love, you’re likely to end up with hairballs! Instead, try a warm damp cloth and run it along your kitty’s head and back. The sensation is reminiscent of the maternal grooming your cat received as a kitten. Gentle brushing works, too as long as the coat is healthy and mat-free.