Favorite Ways Cats Show Love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’re all thinking about love. Personally, I’m thinking about how much love there is in our unique relationships with our cats. So I thought it would be the purrfect time to talk about all the little things cats do to let us know they love us.

Head bunting — Bunting, the word used for when a cat rubs his head or face up against you, is one of my favorite things that cats do. Among litters or colonies, cats use this technique to greet other cats and to deposit their own scent. That way they can easily identify other cats as part of the “family.” Not surprisingly they do this to us for the same reason. A cat who bunts is accepting you into their group.

woman holding cat as the cat sniffs at her face
"tonkinese cats love people" by IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Purring — Cats purr for several reasons, but the most common is, of course, contentment. A comfortable and happy cat will let her motor idle in order to communicate her peaceful mood. That way you and other cats know she’s not agitated and is safe to approach. Mother cats will also use their purr to soothe their restless litter and, because they are blind for the first week of their lives, to help them find her to nurse. When her kittens feel the vibrations, they know mama is nearby. So your cat may be telling you you’re safe with her.

cat on woman's lap

Rubbing on our legs — No, he’s not trying to trip you… I don’t think. Cats rub on our legs for the same reason they bunt: to get their scent on us. If your cat weaves in and out of your legs and rubs his head on you, he’s claiming you as his. He can also tell how long ago a scent was left on you and whether he should stay away. Cats are smart and have very sensitive noses. So if a cat claims you as his own, you are definitely loved.

cat rubbing against the corner of a building

Sleeping with us — There is recent evidence to show that cats sleep with us to protect us. In the wild, cats are vulnerable when they’re sleeping, so cats who are part of a colony are safer. So, a cat who curls up with you on the mattress is both protecting you and expressing that she feels safe with you. It also doesn’t hurt that we’re nice and warm, and sharing body heat is a great way to stay cozy.

gray cat sleeping slumped over a boys legs
Scrappy Over Leg" by Kyle Finnell is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Grooming — Cats are fastidious groomers, using their sandpapery tongues to keep their own bodies clean. But they will often groom each other as well, an activity known as allogrooming. Cats use this behavior to socialize and show affection. So if your cat likes to keep you clean, he’s simply saying, “hi” or “I love you.” 

two orange tabby cats grooming each other

Blinking slowly — I saved the best for last. If you want to know if a cat loves and trusts you, watch her body language. A cat with her tail and ears up is content. And if she blinks slowly at you, then congratulations, your kitty loves and trusts you. She’s expressing her affection by allowing herself to be vulnerable. A cat in the wild needs to stay alert most of the time, so closing her eyes isn’t the wisest course, but if she knows she’s safe, she can relax. This is also how cats let one another know they’re okay to approach. A confrontational cat will stare and her overall body language will change if she perceives a threat. But blinking slowly says, “I’m friendly and I like you.”

tabby cat with eyes half closed looking at the camera

So now you know. Our feline companions can show us they love us in so many ways. Which one is your favorite?


  • Rebekah

    My ginger Manx Oliver, whom I affectionately call OlliePop, is always on his cat perch at the door when I arrive at home, ready for head bunting & rubbing his face anywhere on me can, he pushes it into me so forcefully that he’ll fall over, lol. Then he licks me and gives what I call love bites which are soft & gentle little nips, all while purring madly. He also loves to lay on me all the time & sleeps on me or right up against me as close as he can get. He likes to be spooned, with his head on my pillow & under the covers just like a little person, it’s so sweet. He also rubs on my legs and follows me around the house and I do notice his slow blinks, as I call them, & I like to slow blink him back, which he seems to appreciate. In fact, anytime I catch his eye I’ll slow blink at him and always love receiving one from him in return. It’s our own special little feline ‘I love you’ .

  • Nancy

    My cat Darla likes to sleep right up against me part of the night and loves to lick my skin which I think are kitty kisses. She also likes to sleep on me. Maggie loves to cuddle in my arms at night sometimes and we both fall asleep together. She’s so soft! She also loves it when I give her a hug. Gema likes to come up on my computer desk right in front of me and purr, in fact all three of these girls purr often. Almond Joy is more independent and was when I adopted her which is why no one else adopted her. Her favorite thing is to come in my room at night on my night table for head rubs. But when I stop, she can get snappy sometimes but she knows I adore her.

  • Marge Dussich
    My sweet kitty, Mazie, sleeps on me or tight against me every night. Several times a night, she comes up on my pillow and grooms me. And, she gives the best kitty kisses!

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