Do cats feel love? It's a question that many cat owners have wondered. And the answer is a resounding yes! Cats often feel love quite strongly for their owners and other companions. They're just sometimes a little more subtle about it than dogs. Have you ever asked yourself, "What do cats think about their owners?" The answer is that they think pretty highly of us. From slow blinks to purrs, kneading, and following you from room to room, cats show love in many unique and wonderful ways.
Cats See Us as Parents
Cats don't just think of their owners as food machines. They actually see us as parents. A 2019 study revealed that cats have the same attachment to their owners that babies show to their parents. Kittens in the study acted distressed when their caregivers left and happy and secure when they returned. They still acted this way one year later. The responses were similar to how human children react to their parents.
How Do Cats Show Love?
So now that you know cats truly do feel love, how do they show it to us? Humans are expressive, employing body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, words, and tone to show how we feel. Cats have their own way of communicating that is very different from ours.
If you understand this cat "language," you can see their love displayed in many ways. But just like people, each cat is unique. Some show these signs frequently, and others are more independent, only showing the signs from time to time.
The slow blink is a cat's classic language of love. A good translation of the slow blink is, "I am very happy, content, and peaceful right now." If you ever notice your cat looking at you and blinking very slowly, try blinking slowly back. It's a great way to tell your cat you love her too.2
Purrs can have all kinds of different meanings in cat language, but in many cases, a purr means your cat is happy to be near you. If he's snuggling up to you and purring, it's all love.
Sitting on You
If your cat sits or lays on you, that can be a sign she loves you. She may lay on you because of the security you give her or as a way to show that you belong to her.
Tail Held High
Cats have an extensive body language that can take some time to decipher. Their tail is a big part of it. Cats with a puffy tail or a tail that's held low may be nervous or stressed. But if your cat holds his tail high, he's confident, secure, and happy to see you.
Cheek & Head Bunts
If your cat bunts you with her head or rubs her cheek against you, she's trying to put her "scent" on you and show the world that you belong together. She's transferring pheromones onto your body to mark you as part of her family. Calming diffusers mimic your cat's natural calming pheromones to signal that the area is familiar and safe. These pheromones can help your cat feel secure, happy, and relaxed.
Flopping in front of you and showing his belly is a sign of trust. He may roll in front of you happily or just lie on the ground lazily, belly up. Showing a belly is true vulnerability, and a cat will only do this when he really trusts and loves you.
Some cats will follow their owners from room to room because they love them. They know you're up to something interesting, and they don't want to miss out! Your cat may also choose to sleep near you, even if not necessarily on you.
Yes, even the meow can be a sign of love. Cats may develop a "meow language" unique to their owners.3 Your cat may greet you with happy meows when you get home and give you shorter, more persistent meows when he wants your attention. It's all a sign of love and camaraderie.
Grooming and Kneading
If your fur baby grooms or kneads you, that's another sign of love and affection. Cats groom each other to mix their scents and show trust. They knead to show they are relaxed and content, just like when they were kittens. Both are sure signs of love.
You don't need to wonder anymore if cats feel love. Cats feel so much love in their tiny hearts, they can hardly contain it all. It has to spill out in purrs, kneads, and slow blinks. If your cat's still a little nervous at times, you can use pheromone products to help him feel more secure.
1. Pearson, Jordan. "Your Cat Thinks of You Like a Parent, Study Suggests." Vice, 23 September 2019, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pa735v/your-cat-thinks-of-you-like-a-parent-study-suggests.
2. Pierce, Jessica. "How Do Cats Show Affection to Humans?" Psychology Today, 17 September 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-dogs-go-heaven/201809/how-do-cats-show-affection-humans.
3. Wong, Kate. "The Inner Life of Cats." Scientific American, 1 October 2018, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-inner-life-of-cats/.