How Cats Show Affection to Their Humans

Published by
min read

Cats show affection in ways that often go unrecognised by their pet parents because some people aren't sure how cats demonstrate their love. Since cats express their affection in ways very different from people and other pets, it makes sense that we often miss these precious moments.

Tabby cat rubbing against its owner affectionately

1. Head Butting

One of the most endearing behaviours of cats is when they head butt you and rub against your body. Not only is it cute to watch, it's a sure sign that your cat loves and cares for you. In fact, by head butting you, your cat is leaving pheromones on you to let everyone else know that you belong to them, says Vetstreet.

2. Love Bites

Gray tabby cat nibbling on the knuckle of a human's finger.Biting is generally something people associate with negative feelings, but cats are a little different. When your cat nibbles you playfully, they’re really offering affection. This is much different from a fearful or defensive bite that's meant to cause harm, and the feelings behind it are different as well. Love nibbles are ticklish, funny little quirk of lovable cats.

3. Kneading

Little kitten paws shown from the underside.

Cats begin kneading as tiny kittens when they are nursing. This behaviour is the act of doing a small little march on your leg, and it translates into affection in adult life. When your cat kneads you, they’re being very clear that you make them feel loved and comfortable. Kneading is probably one of the most well-known ways cats show affection.

4. Purring

Long-haired calico cat lying on a white bed spread stretching.

Purring is one of the loudest ways cats show their love. Although there are times cats purr when they're uncomfortable, the occasion is rare. More often than not, your cat is purring because they’re happy to be around you. The more your cat purrs, the better!

5. Following You

Long-haired gray cat lying on owner's lap.

Many pet parents might find it odd that their cats follow them everywhere they go, even right into the bathroom! This just means that your cat wants to spend more time with you. A cat that enjoys your company and feels comfortable around you is going to follow you around the house and cling to you like glue. They just want you to know that they see you as a great companion. If you’re trying to get work done around the house and your cat makes it impossible to do so, they’re just telling you that they are more important than anything else you're doing and it's time to focus on them.

6. Bringing Gifts

Brown and white cat with big yellow eyes lies down with a stuffed toy mouse in her mouth.

Probably the most unpopular among pet parents is the gracious gifting by their furry friends. Cats often show their affection by leaving presents for their pet parents to find. Cats are natural hunters, so when you’re brought freshly caught prey, they’re offering you a delicious meal. You don't want to touch it with your bare hands, but keep in mind your cat means well and this behaviour really is a sign that they care deeply for you.

How cats show their love can be a bit confusing to their human companions, but as long as you understand their behaviour for what it is, you can appreciate it. You love your cat, and it's nice to know they love you back. So, knowing when and how your cat shows affection will provide you both with clear communication. After all, there's nothing better than being told you're loved.

Contributor Bio

Katie Finlay

Katie Finlay


Katie Finlay is a Los Angeles, CA based dog trainer and writer. She has been working with pets and their owners both in person and through her articles for over six years.


Related Articles

  • Why Your Cat Likes to Scratch

    As your kitten grows, so will their claws! And to keep them in trim, They'll scratch.
  • Why do cats meow?

    Even a young child knows and mimics a cat noise. That distinctive 'meow' is not a simple cat sound.
  • Stamping out bad behaviour

    Spraying is perfectly natural cat behaviour and their way of marking somewhere with information about themselves. That said, it's not particularly desirable if done in your living room!
  • Soiling Indoors

    Spraying can be the sign of a larger urinary health issue for cat. Learn what it means and what you can do to help remedy it.

Related products

  • Hill's™ VetEssentials™ Feline Mature Adult 7+ Chicken

    <p>Veterinary Exclusive. Precisely balanced nutrition to help preserve kidney and vital organ function. With clinically proven antioxidants, omega-6s and reduced phosphorus.
    Buy Now »
  • Hill's™ Science Plan™ Feline Adult Optimal Care™ with Tuna

    Hill's™ <span class='nowrap'>Science Plan™</span> Feline Adult <span class='nowrap'>Optimal Care™</span> with Tuna is formulated to support optimal fitness, with clinically proven antioxidants, lean proteins and enhanced Omega 3s. <BR><BR><B>
    Buy Now »
  • HILL'S SCIENCE PLAN Adult Cat Food with Lamb

    Hill's™ <span class='nowrap'>Science Plan™</span> Feline Adult <span class='nowrap'>Optimal Care™</span> with Lamb is formulated to support optimal fitness, with clinically proven antioxidants, lean proteins and enhanced Omega 3s. <BR><BR><B>
    Buy Now »
  • HILL'S SCIENCE PLAN Adult Cat Food with Chicken

    <P>Hill's<SUP>TM</SUP> <span class='nowrap'>Science Plan</span><SUP>TM</SUP> <span class='nowrap'>Optimal Care</span> is formulated to support optimal fitness, with clinically proven antioxidants, lean proteins and enhanced omega 3's. </P> <P></P> <UL> <LI>Supports lean muscle maintenance and ideal body weight. <LI>Controlled mineral levels to support urinary health. <LI>Highly digestible ingredients for optimal nutrient absorption. <LI>100% Guaranteed for quality, consistency and taste.</LI></UL>
    Buy Now »