With sloppy kisses and swishing tails, it’s hard not to notice how much dogs love their owners, as if their only purpose is to love, love, love — and sometimes eat. That’s because we’ve been breeding dogs for tens of thousands of years, selecting the cutest and waggiest pooches for pets. Young pups even respond to human gestures. Cats on the other hand …
It’s no wonder that cats, by comparison, sometimes come across as aloof and distant or spitting fur balls of fury. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to decode your cat — we simply need to “use cat rules, not human rules” of attachment, says Carlos Siracusa, a veterinarian and cat behavior expert at the University of Pennsylvania.
Here are six signs your cat just might actually love you:
1. Your cat doesn’t flee the room when you show up.
Take your cat’s continued presence as a compliment. A solitary hunter by nature, a cat that simply hangs out nearby, or curls up close for a nap, is a creature that feels comfortable, comfortable enough to even like you.
As John Bradshaw, who authored the book Cat Sense and studies animal-human relationships at the University of Bristol, writes for the Washington Post:
In colonies, when two cats are working out whether to approach each other, one usually raises its tail; if the other is happy to approach, it raises its tail, too. The tail-up signal almost certainly evolved during domestication, arising from a posture wildcat kittens use when greeting their mothers
You can take it as a major compliment when your cat approaches you with her tail aloft. See? Cats aren’t so hard too read.
3. Your cat locks eyes and gives you a slow blink.
A feline blink is the so-called “cat kiss.” It’s a way for cats to appease one another, says Siracusa. With a slow blink, your cat is basically saying, I’m feeling good, let’s not fight. If that’s not love, what is?
4. Your cat wants to do your hair and lick your face.
When a cat licks you with a tongue like sandpaper, it might not feel so friendly — but a certain amount of grooming or licking, Siracusa says, indicates closeness. In most cases, this affectionate gesture marks you as a member of your cat’s family. Face it, once your kitty gives you a long lick, you belong to them.
5. Your cat rubs you with his or her cheek.
When cats run their cheeks alongside your legs or face, there’s more going on than simple headbutts. Cats secrete pheromones in glands on their faces and paws. As they rub, cats leave behind a smelly trail of molecules. It’s an odor that we can’t detect, but Siracusa calls it “a friendly smell” for cats.
6. Your cat brings you “presents.”
Cat moms teach kittens how to hunt through demonstration. When cats leave dead animals at your door, he or she is simply treating you like a member of family — a part of the family that can’t hunt very well. But for the safety of your cat and your neighborhood wildlife, you should consider keeping cats indoors.