12 Subtle Ways Your Cat Shows You Love Without You Even Knowing It

by Alli Hoff Kosik

Cats are often accused of being unaffectionate, aloof, and maybe a little too independent. Dog people will argue that their preferred pet's feline counterpart is incapable of showing the kind of slobbery love that they so value from their pups. In my experience, cat people will usually respond to this claim with a retort about how cats are just more discerning and particular, and how that (naturally) makes them superior. As a lover of both dogs and cats, I have absolutely no desire to get in the middle of this argument, but I have done a little digging and discovered subtle ways that your cat shows you love. Cat people, I think I've just armed you for your next argument with a dog person about how affectionate your kitty can actually be.

Even having grown up with cats in the house, I have to admit that I was surprised that some of these behaviors translate into the equivalent of feline PDA. I always assumed it was just our cats living their lives, but apparently they had something important to tell us... and it was that they loved us. Heart? Consider it melted. Read on to learn more about all the surprising ways your cat shows you TLC.


According to behaviorist Marilyn Krieger on Catster, cats look at the people they love and trust through half-closed, blinking eyes. Krieger noted that these blinks are actually called "cat kisess," and they convey "relaxation, contentment, affection, and trust." Return those cat kisses to your pet to demonstrate that you love him or her, too!


Per PetMD, kneading is "the motion cats make by rhythmically alternating their paws, pushing in and out against a pliable, soft object (such as a lap)." There are many reasons that cats knead, and showing love is one of them.


Next time your cat starts licking you obsessively, understand that it's actually his way of projecting a typically cat-to-cat form of affection on you, his favorite human. Catster noted that cats groom each other as a stress reliever and bonding mechanism, so when your cat starts grooming you, it's because he considers you family. Insert all the heart eyes here.

Wrapping Their Tail Around You

Cats tend to point out their favorite people by wrapping their tails around them or resting their tails on them while they sit together, per Krieger on Catster. "Although I try not to anthropomorphize, the sweet behavior reminds me of holding hands with a best friend," she wrote.

Bringing You Something

Behavior expert Amy Shojai noted in The Spruce that felines retain their natural instincts to gift their loved ones with "prey." If you have an inside cat, a toy or loose piece of paper is all the prey they have, so accept it as the thoughtful gesture that it is when it lands at your feet.

Rubbing Their Cheeks On You

If your cat greets you at the end of the day by rubbing its cheeks on your ankles or hands, it's not because they have an itch. It's because they love you! In the cat world, cheek rubs symbolize trust, safety, and socialization, according to Krieger. That's why the best way to introduce yourself to a new cat is to extend your finger toward it. If it wants to say hello, it'll let you know with a cheek rub!

Head Bunting

Like cheek rubbing, when a cat pushes its head up against, it's a way for it to demonstrate their affection and to establish biological "ownership" over you. This occurs because it's basically them spreading their pheromones onto your skin and clothes, per Vetstreet.


OK, so you might not be particularly enthused when your kitty starts scratching at things around your home. I get that. But pay attention to what they're scratching. There's a good chance that he or she is focusing those claws on corners of the couch where you sit or on blankets where you tend to snuggle up. The areas that seem most important to a cat are often associated with the owner, according to The Spruce — and that's not a coincidence!

Rolling Over

A cat that is comfortable enough to flash you their belly is a cat that also loves you. According to iHeartCats, it's a sign of affection when your kitty rolls on his back in front of you. It shows that they feel loved and protected, because they're leaving themselves physically vulnerable.

Making Noise

Whether your cat tends toward meowing, purring, or chirping, you can bet that it's a signal of their positive feelings toward you, per Krieger.

Nipping You

No pet owner wants to condone biting, but this news might change your feelings about a gentle love nip from your cat here and there: According to Dr. Karen Becker on Healthy Pets, "kitties nip each other affectionately, and their skin is tougher than ours, so your cat really doesn't understand her love bite isn't always pleasant for you." It's coming from a place of love!

Staying Close To You

Like humans, cats indicate who they love by spending more time with those people. According to Krieger, your pet may try to show you affection by following you around the house or by sitting in the same room as you.