How Do Cats Show Affection? 7 Surprising Ways


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How do cats show affection?

Movies helped to promote the myth that cats are cold and angry. However, cats do show affection in their own way.

If you’ve wondered how your cat is trying to tell you they love you this article will help you. I’ll show you the 7 different ways cats communicate affection.

7 Ways Cats Show Affection

How Do Cats Show Affection?

1. Raised Tails Are a Sign of Affection in Cats

A study in 1997 found cat will approach a silhouette of a cat with a raised tail. This shows that a raised tail is one way a cat communicates comfort.

A cat may even wrap its tail around you to show it wants to interact with you.

I’ve found my cat also quivers his tail if I’m ready to give him food. So, your cat might be happy to see you – or your tasty treats.

A cat with a raised tail.

2. Exploration Is a Sign of Affection in Cats

If your cat is happy, it may go exploring.

Although this seems unusual, it makes sense. One sign of security is for the cat to wander off to go exploring. Cats want to learn more about the world around them, and exploration is a sign of comfort.

In a similar way to infants and dogs, cats can also form secure relationships with their owners.

In a cat’s language, this house exploration is a sign it’s part of the family.

3. Headbutts Are a Sign of Affection in Cats


Ever get bumped by your frisky feline?

Head bunting‘ is the term for this, and is a good sign. This practice allows a cat to transfer its scent to an object.

Headbutting transfers pheromones from the scent glands onto the object to mark territory, but also be a way of demonstrating affection.

Be aware of if your cat presses its head against a surface and starts making unusual howling sounds. This may show pain and be worth checking in with the vet.

Check out my article on the signs of pain to learn more.

A cat head bunting their owner.

4. Staring Is a Sign of Affection in Cats

Cats may communicate their connection to you through their longing gaze.

Research demonstrates that cats are able to respond to and follow gaze up to 70% of the time. A relaxed cat shows non-dilated pupils. Slow blinking shows affection and is a subtle way of showing affection.

Research has shown that owners who slow blink with strong eye contact are more likely to get a cat to respond and approach.

5. Purring Is a Sign of Affection in Cats

Purring shows you are hitting the sweet spot. Your cat might show a positive response to contact around the cheek.

Other areas may be sensitive for a cat. Their tails and body areas near the belly are spots where your cat might not be so comfortable.

Another thing kittens and adult cats do is they love to start kneading with their paws. This happens with purring and is a sign your pet is showing its affection whilst on your bed.

Kneading is something young cats learn early in life. Learned as a kitten, they knead their mother’s teat to stimulate milk secretion.

A cat being patted.

6. Presenting Gifts Is a Sign of Affection in Cats

Has your cat ever walked up at your backdoor with a present (e.g. a dead mouse)?

This unusual behavior may be part of the complex evolution between humans and cats. Cats seemed to become popular with humans due to their ability to dispose of common pests, research suggests.

Then again, this sign of affection may be more a case of “I want to make myself useful to share this world with you”. It might be another form of kitty companionship – if a little strange.

7. Grooming Is a Sign of Affection in Cats

Does your cat start licking your hand?

This could be a sign of affection, as a cat’s mother will groom their babies.

Grooming is also a survival mechanism to clean young kittens from debris.

It is up for debate, but the grooming may show comfort and care for the owner.

If you notice a change in your cat’s grooming behavior, it might be worth visiting the vet. Grooming too often may lead to hairballs forming in the intestines. This may lead to your cat’s dry heaving.

Check out my article on dry heaving to learn more.

A cat grooming another cat.


So are cats affectionate creatures? Maybe.

While cats aren’t as vocal with humans as dogs they do have their ways of showing affection.

Cats show affection with grooming, head bunting, and purring. Or they’re just being loud.

Who knows.

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