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Does Your Cat Love You? Exploring the Bond Between Cats and Humans

27 Jan 2023.

Cats have garnered reputations as aloof and standoffish creatures. However, if you have a cat, you’ve probably noticed certain behaviours that indicate this might not be true. Do our kitties simply tolerate us because we feed them and give them shelter? Or is possible your cat really does love you? Cat in a Flat finds out! 

Does your cat love you? 

This complicated question has been asked by scientists and cat people for ages. The fascinating history of the domestic cat points to some pretty interesting discoveries. Most of Mr Whiskers’ distant wild cat cousins are indeed independent and solitary animals. In fact, lions are the only species that live in groups called prides. They are also the only type of wild cat who hunt in groups. 

According to science, your tiny house tiger inherited many of the solitary traits of their bigger cousins. This is one reason why some kitties may struggle to make friends with other cats. Felines are territorial, and every cat sees their home as solely belonging to them! However, cats became domesticated thousands of years ago and over time have adapted to life with human companions. So, while your kitty may have an independent streak, they’ve also figured out how to bond with humans too. 

How does my cat show they love me?

Cats can show affection in many different ways. Here are a few hints that your furry friend might be trying to say they love you.

  • Meowing: One surprising fact about cats is that they don’t meow to communicate with each other. So, what does it mean when your kitty meows at you? This is actually a form of communication cats have developed to talk to their human companions. Think about it: to show their love, your cat developed a whole new way of communicating. That’s pretty pawesome! 
  • Bunting/Headbutting: One way your cat shows they love you is by bumping their head against you or rubbing their cheeks against you. This behaviour stems from kittenhood where your feline would have done the same to their mother. When your kitty bunts or headbutts you, they are trying to mark you with their scent. This is your feline’s way of claiming you as one of their own and strengthening their bond with you. 
  • Kneading: The popular internet term for kneading is ‘making biscuits’ and you’ve probably noticed Mr Whiskers does this quite frequently. Kneading with their front paws helps some fur friends feel relaxed and comforted. So, your cat isn’t just showing that they love you, they’re also letting you know that they feel content in your presence.
  • Grooming: Grooming your fur friend is a part of essential cat care, but what about when the roles are flipped? It’s a sign of love when your cat licks you or gently nibbles you. Your kitty is saying that you’re one of them! 
  • Purring: A cat’s purrs can mean many different things. However, if your kitty is relaxing on or near you and starts to purr, this is a sign that Mr Whiskers is feeling particularly happy. 
  • Slow blink: A slow blink is your cat’s way of saying, “I love you”. Because staring directly into the eyes is generally considered threatening behaviour in the feline world, it’s a sign of trust and love when your cat makes eye contact and blinks. 
  • Following you: You wouldn’t think such independent creatures would enjoy following their humans to the bathroom (and everywhere else), but cats really do love spending time with their favourite humans! Hence, your feline will greet you at the door when you come home and follow you all about the house because they miss you and love you. 

Are some cat breeds more loving? 

While the level of affection can depend on your kitty’s personality, some breeds do tend to show more affection than others. For example, a Ragdoll cat can be incredibly affectionate and most likely will want to spend all its time curled up in their fur parent’s arms. On the other hand, a Siamese cat is more likely to be social, but also more independent and standoffish. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a Siamese cat will love their owner less than a Ragdoll. Every feline’s personality is unique, and every cat shows love in a different way. 

Note: When booking a cat sitter, make sure they understand your cat’s personality and the type of care they need. Some felines are fine with a daily visit from the cat sitter, while others may need twice a day visits or a house sitter to keep them company. Your absence can be stressful for your fur friend, so carefully source a cat sitter who not only gets along with your feline but can offer them the unique care they need. 

How deep is my cat’s emotional connection?

So, your cat can show love, but does this mean our furry friends have social intelligence and an emotional connection? Social intelligence is the ability to form and maintain relationships. Although cats don’t have a strict hierarchy, they do have a certain level of social intelligence. So, while your cat may come and go as they please, they do always come back because maintaining a relationship with their favourite human is important to them. 

It’s quite difficult to measure an emotional connection—especially between humans and cats. We don’t speak the same language, so we have to interpret from our feline’s meows, tail movements, and body language what they’re trying to say. However, various studies point to strong emotional connections between felines and their human companions. For example, cats tend to react in particular ways to their owners as opposed to strangers. A 2020 study also revealed that felines are more likely to accept food from owners who call their names and while making eye contact with them. So, although scientists can’t say for sure whether our cats feel love for us, they can confirm that felines do develop very strong bonds with their humans.

Want to know more about your furry feline? Check out these blog posts where we answer your top questions about cat behaviour and tell you why cats love boxes

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  • cats show love
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