Cats aren’t always the easiest creatures to read. Their signs of affection can often be subtle, so much so that they’re easy to miss. Unlike dogs, who wear their hearts on their furry sleeve, some cats are more reserved. But they show their love just as much as dogs do, just in different ways. The next time you go to cuddle your cat, keep your eye out for these feline behaviors that confirm your cat totally digs you, man.
The "Slow Blink." Made famous by Jackson Galaxy, the cat guru from "My Cat From Hell," this subtle expression of feline affection from a confiding cat can be difficult to catch. Cats do not like to stare their humans directly in the eyes, as they see direct and constant eye contact as a threat or challenge. By giving you that slow blink, your cat is showing you that they feel safe around you, safe enough to close their eyes to the danger-filled world they evolved in.
Head rubs and head butts! While it's not hard to see the affection in your cat snuggling up to your legs and headbutting your face, do you ever wonder why they do it? Cats have scent glands on their face and the base of their tail. When they push their head onto your hands or feet, they're scent-marking you, letting the whole world know (in their own secret, pheromone-encrypted way) that you belong to them.
Being in the same space as you (on purpose). While it doesn't seem like much, a cat won't share space with someone it doesn't like. They will share space with those they feel comfortable and safe with. They might lie down next to you on the couch when you're watching TV, maybe reach out a paw every now and then to touch your arm, make sure you're still there. Even just sitting in the same room as you is a sign that your cat enjoys your company as much as you enjoy theirs.
The Tummy Rub Trap. As hard as it is to resist, a cat lying on its back and showing you its belly is not always an open invitation for pets. When Mr. Mittens rolls on his back and shows you that fluffy tum, what he’s really trying to tell you is that he feels completely safe around you. He trusts you not to touch his belly. Some cats, though, do enjoy a good belly rub. And if you can do so without getting scratched, give in! But even just having your cat roll over and show its belly is a huge sign of trust. In the wild, a cat would never show its vulnerable underbelly to someone it regarded a threat.
Social Grooming. Domesticated cats participate in a social grooming activity called allogrooming, similar to lions in prides. Social grooming helps cement bonds between cats and their humans.
Love Bites. If your cat starts licking you, and maybe even giving you a few "love bites" on your hands and knuckles, they're trying to show you that they love you. You can read more about "love bites" and what this behavior means here. Be careful, as grooming can quickly turn into overstimulation for cats and the love bites may become a bit too hard.