Cats can be hard to read. As far as domestic pets go, they’re often classified as among the least affectionate, with dog-people often claiming that cats are moody, snobby and standoffish.
And it’s true, they can be. But as a cat-owner and a bit of a moody babe myself, I feel like it’s my duty to stand up for cats and their cat-loving owners around the world.
My cat, a white domestic short-haired cat, was a rescue. Someone discarded her on the side of the road because she was the deaf, runt of the litter. We took her in and named her Daphne.
Daphne can be a total princess, prancing around the house with her head in the clouds, acting like she owns the place and that everyone will obey her every order and TBH, it’s a vibe. But while I love the snobby side of cats, they can actually be super needy too. In my experience, if you’re super loving to your cat, they’ll begin to depend on your affection and eventually, give it back in their own unique way.
“A common way that cats show love for us is by spending lots of time on or near us,” says animal behaviourist Dr. Kate Mornement.
“When cats want to be with, sleep near and play with us, they demonstrate an affinity and affection towards us. Like humans, cats want to spend time with the people they love.”
Daphne will follow me to the toilet and sit by my feet every time. She goes everywhere I go, and although she doesn’t always wanted to be cuddled or patted, Mornement says that just wanting to be near us, cats are showing their love.
Cats are different in their communication style, which makes it important for us to understand what their behaviours mean, no matter how big or small.
“Even the subtle gesture of slow blinking means they feel very calm and relaxed in their owner’s presence and is also a behaviour that can indicate trust. Most common vocalisations, such as meows and purring, also communicate affection for their owners.
“Most cat owners also don’t realise that the tail is key when trying to understand what your cat is feeling. The classic question mark shaped tail, where the tail is held upright with a slight curve towards the tip, is usually displayed when cats greet us. It’s their way of saying they feel content and are happy to see us.”
Waiting for you outside the bathroom, lying on your clothes and sleeping at the end of your bed are all behaviours that Mornement says mean that they feel comfortable with you and affectionate towards you.
However, if you’re still feeling unsure about how your cat feels about you, then there are a few techniques you can try to figure them out.
“If you’re looking for a way to understand better where your cat might like to receive affection, the consent test is my go-to. This involves patting your cat briefly in an area you know they enjoy being patted and then stopping. If your cat reengages with you and asks for more pats, you know, it’s a yes, but if they do nothing or move away, you know you should stop.
“Giving your cat the choice and control when it comes to hands-on interaction can help improve trust and your relationship.”
Although the bond you have with a cat might be different to a dog or any other pet, it doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful.