Here’s How Cats Show Affection

| Aimee Ellis

Cats may seem aloof, but they have their own special way of showing affection. Discover how cats show affection with their faces, tails, and paws.


Cats have the unfair stereotype of being aloof, and that they want nothing to do with their owners. And while they’re much different from dogs in the ways of showing affection, that doesn’t change the fact that your cat does show love towards you. It can just be a bit more subtle.

Is This Seat Taken?

Each cat has their own unique personality. Some may be extra cuddly, while others aren’t. But that doesn’t mean they don’t love you! Following you from room to room, sleeping on the end of your bed, or even just being near shows they care and are interested in what you’re doing.

They may even find certain spots that smell like you to lounge in, like your favorite chair or even your laundry basket. And if you’re lucky, they’ll curl up and nap in your lap. That’s the ultimate showing of love—these tiny predators feel comfortable with you when they’re vulnerable. They know you’ll keep them safe.

What Are You Looking At?

Have you ever noticed your cat staring at you from across the room, and then they slowly close their eyes? They’re giving you a kitty kiss! Slowly blink back at them and see what happens. You’re letting them know in their own language that you love them too.

It’s Bath Time

Dogs are known for giving slobbery smooches, but kitty is a bit more refined. Instead, your cat may “groom” you with their sandpaper tongue. Mama cats would always keep their litter of kittens nice and clean, and it was viewed as bonding time. Your furry friend is mimicking their mama by cleaning you!

Your Cat’s a Chatty Kathy

Kittens use meowing to tell their mama they need something. Once they grow up, they stop meowing to other cats—but they will meow at you! They view you as their caregiver.

Cats also use purring to express their happiness and comfort, which is another method of communication from kittenhood. Kittens would purr to communicate with their mom and other littermates. Some cats purr even just by looking at their favorite human!

Keep in mind—some cats have a “quiet” purr. You may even think your cat has never purred at all! Try placing your hand gently on your cat’s throat, and you may feel some happy rumbles.

Time to Bake the Biscuits

Like purring and grooming, kneading is a behavior leftover from kittenhood. When they were babies, kittens would knead on their mother’s stomach during feeding time. They remember this time as being happy and feeling cared for. They bring this behavior to adulthood when they’re feeling happy and content. They may knead your blankets in bed, pillows, and even you! Take that as a compliment—your kitty is feeling very lovey and safe with you.

Cats also have scent glands in their paws. When they knead on you or your things, this is their way of saying “this is mine.”

Pay Attention to Their Tail

Cats use their tails to communicate, and you can learn a lot about what your kitty is feeling based on what their tail is doing. A happy cat will have their tail straight with the end curved like a question mark.

When your cat brushes by you, they may hook their tail along your leg. Think of it as a loving hug from your furry friend.

Some cats show extreme happiness by giving their tails a little shake. This means they’re overcome with love and affection for you!

You’re Mine

Your cat may brush their face on your face, legs, ankles, or even on your things. They even give headbutts (called bunting). This is your cat’s way of saying hello and initiating some bonding time. When cats rub their faces on you, they’re claiming you as theirs by marking you with the scent from their cheek glands. This alerts other cats that you’re taken. What a sign of affection!

Cats may seem mysterious and aloof, but they have a language all their own. Pay attention to what your cat is trying to tell you—and give them love right back!

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Aimee Ellis

Aimee is a New Jersey native currently living in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and crew of four cats. She has an English degree and when she isn't writing for AKC Pet Insurance, you can find her drinking seltzer, painting, watching reality TV shows, and trying to wrangle her cats into sweaters.


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