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6 Ways Your Cat Shows Affection — And 3 Things You Can Do to Say ‘I Love You’ Back

Felines certainly get a bad rap for being anti-social creatures, which leads many of us to wonder, “How do cats show affection?”

Of course, any pet owner knows that these little furballs are just big bundles of love who have their own unique way of expressing just how much they care about you.

Ibrahim Raidhan, the creator of, breaks down the common ways your kitties confirm their attachment, plus what you can do to return the love.

1. Purring

cat purring

Is there any more obvious sign that your feline is in kitty heaven than feeling the little motor in the back of her throat purring like crazy? Cats will purr when they’re happy or content — or both! Usually, this occurs when you’re giving your little fur baby some good under-the-chin or between-the-ear scratches. That’ll hit the spot! 

Purring may also be a sign that your kitty is in pain, so be on the lookout for when it’s accompanied by biting and scratching, changes in breathing or heart rate/pulse, or changes in pupil size, among other things. Occasionally, cats will also purr to soothe themselves (and put us straight to sleep!). 

2. Grooming Their Humans

cat licking human

Cat owners with multiple kitties at home know that they can go hours grooming each other. But what does it mean when your feline won’t stop licking you? If you’ve ever Googled “Why does my cat groom me?” during one of their licking sessions, you’ll be happy to know that it means your cat just adores you. 

Grooming is a sign of affection and allows a cat to mingle its scent with yours, meaning your precious pet recognizes your smell and marks you as family. In other words, cats will groom others — including their humans — because it calms them, and it shows that they trust you.

3. Slowly Blinking at You

cat blinking slowly

Have you ever made eye contact with your cat and been greeted with a slow blink? You should feel honored that your kitty is gifting you with sweet cat kisses. Seriously — these slow blinks are called cat kisses, and they’re a cat’s way of saying “I like spending time with you.”

The good thing is you can return the cat kisses by slowly blinking in response. Oh, and, of course, give your kitty a real smooch on the top of his or her furry little noggin (and a good scratch under the chin!). 

4. Showing You Their Bellies

cat getting belly rubs

The super soft underbelly is a notorious danger zone on a cat. Careful cat owners should approach petting this area with caution, or they can expect a quick and painful swipe. But sometimes cats willingly roll over and expose their bellies — and if you’re there to witness it, it means you’re on your kitty’s good side.

In addition to the old “elevator butt,” showing you their bellies is one of the highest compliments cats can give their owners. Your cat is basically saying “I trust you so much that I’m going to show you one of the most sensitive parts of my body, because I know you won’t hurt me.”

5. Headbutts and Cheek Rubs

cat cheek rubs

Headbutts, aka head bunting, is that weird thing cats do where they bop you with their head. It’s easy to mistake head bunting for a cat just trying to get your attention. However, this behavior is a result of cats having scent glands in their heads, which they then use to transfer their special smell to you — their property — with a soft boop. 

Cats like to rub their cheeks on things, including people and other pets they love. Felines also have scent glands in their cheeks, so these little love taps produce pheromones that signal to others that Kitty wants to socialize. No word on whether cats like getting cheek boops in return, though.

6. Spending Time With Their Humans

cat cuddle baby

Just as it is with us, cats use spending quality time with their owners to indicate how much they love their human moms and dads. Whether it’s sitting next to you on the couch during your favorite TV show or snuggling up with you in bed, cats just want to be near to their people. 

It only seems fair that we return the love our cats so willingly share with us. And fortunately, there are plenty of ways to tell your felines that they’re the only kitties for you. 

  1. Slowly blink at your cats. As previously mentioned, cats blink slowly as a sign that they trust you. It only makes sense to do the same in return.
  2. Groom your kitty. Cats spend hours each day grooming themselves — so why not help them out? We recommend the Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush ($15.99, Amazon), because it’s so dang easy to clean. After a brushing session, you’re bound to find chunks of cat fur everywhere. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up the best vacuums for pet hair so your home will be clean in a flash. 
  3. Just hang out. Spending time with your cat doesn’t have to involve a lot of effort. Simply throwing around your cat’s favorite toy is enough to show them you love them. Even better would be snuggling up with them on the weekend for some sweet cuddles.

For all the joy they bring into our lives, it’s time to finally tell our fur babies how much we love them — and treat them like the kings and queens they truly are.

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