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how to say i love you to your cat

How to Tell Your Cat You Love Them in 15 Ways

Cats have their own very special ways to express affection and once you decode their love language, you can easily say “I love you” to your cat in a way they’ll understand.

And once you understand your cat’s expressions of affection, you’ll build a stronger bond with your very best fur friend.

Check out the Cat Bonding Guide here to learn more

Here are a few purr-fect ways to tell your cat how much you love them.

15 Ways to Say I Love You in Cat Language

1. Blink Slowly and Gaze Lovingly Into Her Eyes

Your cat might not appreciate being showered with kisses (and she may think you’re a little crazy if you try), but you can “kiss” her kitty style by meeting her loving gaze.

Most cats show affection by looking at someone they trust and slowly closing their eyes. You can return this display by getting on her level, meeting her gaze, and slowly blinking back at her. Kitty will know exactly what you are trying to say.

2. Mimic Her Voice

If you’re the parent of a chatty kitty, you may notice that she has special meows, coos, or trills that she reserves especially for the humans that she’s close to.

Imitate her sounds during a tender moment. She will understand it as a display of affection from you, and you’ll be helping her feel safe, secure, and loved.

3. Let Her Rub On You

Have you ever wondered why your cat rubs against your leg or butts her head against you? 

Cats have special scent glands located on their cheeks and heads.

When your kitty rubs against you, this is feline body language equivalent to human hugs or cuddles. She’s paying you the ultimate compliment of leaving her scent behind and claiming you as part of her family.

You can accept this gesture by allowing her to claim you. Lean into her little kitty head butt, nuzzle your face into hers, and don’t move away as she’s winding herself around your legs.

You may even be able to initiate the behavior yourself to some extent. While it’s probably not going to go well if you try to head butt your cat, you can extend your index finger toward her nose to give her the opportunity to rub her cheeks along your hand.

4. Groom Her

Photo of black BISSELL De-Shedding Grooming Gloves

Grooming is another way cats spread their scent to create a sense of family and belonging. While imitating her actions exactly wouldn’t be a good idea (unless you want to wind up with a mouth full of fur), you can still show your love by “grooming” her, human style.

Try brushing her gently, using a de-shedding tool like this one. Or you can pet her with a pair of grooming gloves like these from BISSELL®, if she seems to prefer that.

Bissell De-Shedding Grooming Gloves for Pets
  • Transforms a dreaded chore into a bonding opportunity for you and your four legged friend.
  • Features soft rubber nodules to gently gather fur and massage your pet.
  • The five-finger design gives you the flexibility to quickly and easily groom your pet's face, body, legs and tail.

Some domestic cats even enjoy having a warm, damp cloth rubbed along their heads and backs since it takes them back to the tongue baths their moms gave them when they were kittens.

5. Don’t Skip the Vet

Okay, so your cat may not interpret a trip to the vet as a sign of affection, but she won’t hold it against you either! And even though going to the vet is probably not your cat’s favorite thing to do, it is paws down one of the best ways you can show you care.

Cats are masters at hiding signs of sickness and discomfort—they barely show they’re in pain or are sick, even through their body language. Without regular visits to the vet, you could miss an important chance to diagnose and treat small health issues before they become big ones.

Say “I love you” to your cat by taking care of her health so that she can enjoy a long, happy life with her favorite human!

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6. Give Them Space

Although you might want to hug and squeeze your cat to show them love and affection, cats aren’t always in the mood for that much hands-on attention.

If your cat is giving you signs that they need space, respect the boundaries they set. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They may just need some alone time!

7. Gently Massage Them

Most cats love a gentle massage. I used to spend quality time with my cat, Turtle, every night. I would read my book, and she would cuddle up as I gently massaged her.

This is also a great opportunity to do a wellness check and look for any abnormal bumps or scrapes.

8. Give Them Boredom Busters

Cats are naturally curious and active. When they don’t have opportunities to keep their minds busy, they often develop stress, which can lead to a state of anxiety.

Giving your cat interactive toys or perches to watch birds and squirrels will help keep their mind occupied and ward off boredom, especially if they’re left at home alone all day.

There are two cat trees I specifically recommend. They’re both beautiful and modern and don’t look like your typical ugly carpeted perches.
This one is budget-friendly. I love it because it provides a den, a perch, and interactive toys all in one.

PetPals Hand-Made Paper Rope Natural Cat Tree
  • Handcrafted unique design features paper rope basket.
  • Constructed with soft plush fabric, plush toys, and Sisal scratching posts.
  • Simple and easy to install; all instructions, materials, and tools included.
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed

If you want a more luxurious version, I highly recommend this one from Mau Pets. Each tree is handmade and hence, unique. The basket covers are washable and nearly every part of the tree is replaceable.

Even the beds can be purchased separately if you decide to swap colors or if your cat damages them.

MAU Modern Cat Tree Tower, Real Branch Luxury Cat Condo
  • Beautiful piece of modern cat furniture is meant to hold cats weighing up to 23 pounds or even multiple cats
  • Made of quality materials that are extremely sturdy and meant to last for years to come
  • Cushions are machine washable
  • Designed to enhance the look of your home, with two natural wood trunks that hold two hand woven wicker baskets and plush cushions

9. Let Them Hunt!

Cats are natural-born hunters. Even domesticated cats have the natural instinct to hunt and kill their prey. Your cat will know you love them when you encourage this behavior and give them plenty of opportunity to hunt safely indoors.

One of my favorite indoor hunting activities for cats is Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Feeder. It’s an inexpensive way to show your cat how much you understand their need for hunting prey.

Doc & Phoebe's Indoor Hunting Feeder
  • Helps keep your kitty active, healthy, and lean
  • Appeals to their natural hunting instincts
  • Easy to use, durable, and long lasting

10. Introduce Change at Their Pace

Cats love routine. When you bring a new person or animal into their life, it might seem a bit disrespectful to them at first.

Give your cat time to get used to new things. For example, if you get a new cat, let them sniff each other through a door for some time before making official introductions. You may even separate them for several days, only feeding them on opposite sides of the door, until they get used to each other.

If you normally leave a door open, don’t close it just because you have guests. This may signal to your cat that you’re limiting their territory, and they’ll become stressed.

11. Address Their Anxiety with Pheromones

What we might think of as bad behavior (peeing outside the box, for instance) may actually be anxiety.

Always address the cause of your cat’s anxiety. This article on cat anxiety may help. And then work to restore your cat’s peace of mind.

Pheromone therapy can help. I have used Feliway pheromone diffusers for years. They’re veterinary recommended and mimic a mother cat’s calming pheromones.

Feliway Optimum is my favorite and what I use the most with my cats.

FELIWAY Calming Pheromone Diffuser
  • 93% of cat owners report enhanced calming, with an average satisfaction rating of 9.1 out of 10
  • A drug free solution that helps calm cats and lower their anxiety
  • Helps reduce common signs of stress in cats such as: scratching, urine spraying, tension and conflicts between cats, fear, and negative reactions to changes

12. Give Them Running Water

It’s no secret cats love running water! One reason is that drinking out of bowls can affect their whiskers.

Cats sense their world, in part, by using their whiskers. When their whiskers hit the edge of their bowl too frequently, they can end up with whisker fatigue, or whisker stress. Essentially, they have sensory overload.

Water fountains made for cats can help combat this problem without needing to leave your faucet on and rack up a hefty water bill!

I love the Catit line of fountains. Harriet from the Pet Living family agrees!

Harriet loves her Catit fountain.


13. Give Them a Zen Zone

Your cat would want to have their own space, one that’s really their own, where they can feel calm and secure. This might be a room or a corner of a room, or it could be a cat cave.

Wherever you or your cat choose to create this shelter, it should be a place that remains relatively unchanged so your cat has a stable place to relax when feeling stressed.

Never punish your cat by confining them to their zen zone!

14. Don’t Force Them to Interact

We all love to show off our pets. But we know how sensitive cats can be, so forced interaction, especially with people they don’t know, can cause a lot of discomfort and stress.

Even when it’s just the two of you, your cat may simply want some alone time. Try not to take offense at this. Your cat will know you love them when you give them the personal space they need.

15. Appreciate Their True Cat Nature

One of the best ways to show your cat you love them is to just let them be themselves! Cats are not really that mysterious once you start to understand their nature.

One of my favorite books is Decoding Your Cat. It’s written by a group of veterinary behaviorists, who are essentially psychiatrists for pets! They are veterinarians who specialize in animal behavior.

Decoding Your Cat: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Cat Behaviors
  • Provides an in-depth understanding of the underlying reasons for a cat’s problem behavior
  • Empowers cat owners to understand why their cat acts the way it does, address behavior problems, and ensure a happy life for their pets
  • Written by the leading experts in cat behavior from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lisa Radosta has helped me tremendously through the years with my pets’ behavior issues. Check out a few more of her recommended cat behavior resources:

Dr. Lisa Radosta shares her favorite cat behavior books with me.

5 Ways to Tell if Your Cat Loves You

Once you’ve shown your cat how much you love her, she’ll likely return in kind. So what cat language should you look for to know if your cat is head over tail in love with you? 

1. The “Cat Kiss”

As mentioned, cats “kiss” by gazing into your eyes. If you’ve tried taking the lead in this and your cat hasn’t responded, it doesn’t mean your cat doesn’t love you! She may want to be the one to make the first move.

If she’s given you her “kiss,” your cat likes you (hooray!). If she’s yet to give you a “kiss,” keep an “eye” out. She’ll give you her affection when she’s ready.

2. She Sleeps with You

Sleeping is probably one of your cat’s favorite activities! If she chooses to share this with you, nestling in under the covers or across your chest, it’s a sign your cat likes you. 

3. She Shows Off Her Rear

Oddly enough, your cat sticking her butt in your face can be a sign of love and affection! Cats use their tails to express their feelings, so a straight-up tail that’s gently swaying, exposing her rear end, indicates she’s ready for attention and affection. 

4. She’s “Bunting”

Bunting is when your cat pushes her head and face into you. It means she accepts you as part of her cat crew. It’s also an opportunity for her to use her facial scent glands to leave her pheromones on you, something cats will do to show affection to other cats.

While you won’t be able to smell her pheromones, it will make her happy to include you in her inner circle. 

5. Purring

Purring may be one of the sweetest experiences a cat parent can have. When your kitty is content, she’ll purr that deep hum that makes your heart melt. 

Be aware, though, that some cats purr when they’re anxious or nervous. So you’ll need to carefully monitor your cat’s behavior and make sure she isn’t displaying other signs of cat anxiety

FAQs About Telling Your Cat You Love Them

Can You Make Your Cat Love You?

Cats are discerning creatures, and you can’t force your cat to love you. Disrespecting her personal space — or going too far the other way and ignoring her completely — won’t contribute to your human-feline friendship.

However, you can take the steps mentioned here to slowly build a bond with your cat — on her terms, of course!

How Do Cats Pick Their Person?

Sometimes, it may seem like cats pick the least “cat person” to attach themselves to. But in reality, cats typically choose the person who most understands their unique cat behavior, even if they don’t consider themselves a “cat person.”

They may even unconsciously mimic cat behavior, a signal to a cat that the person understands them. Bottom line, if you want to be chosen as your cat’s person, make a good effort to understand cat language!

Does My Cat Miss Me When I’m Gone?

The short answer is, possibly! Cats love routine and consistency. So if you’re usually around and now you’re not, chances are, your cat misses you.

What’s more, in a survey of more than 3,000 cat parents, about 1 in 10 cats showed signs of separation anxiety.

Most cats communicate their distress differently from dogs or other pets, so when you understand cat body language well, you can easily identify signs that signal your cat is stressed when you’re not around.

Does My Cat Recognize My Voice?

Yes! Studies show that cats recognize their owner’s voice. Now, whether your feline friend decides to mind you or not, that’s another story!

The Tail End

Cats are some of the most wonderful companions! When you take the time to understand and decode your cat’s behavior, you can expect a wonderful bond to blossom between the two of you.

Speaking of bonding… be sure to grab my free guide, How to Bond with Your Cat.

Download the FREE Cat Bonding Ebook

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

This Post Has 107 Comments

  1. I don’t know how to tell you this, but it might not be a good idea to advise someone to stare directly into a cat’s eyes…

        1. My new tortie has attitude and hates it if I Stare at her. She jumps and swats at me thank goodness for Glasses.

      1. My cat Boogie is a real love bug he wants my afectkion. and attain constantly and. and obeys most of what I tell him to do.❤

      2. Awww, all this is just kitty talk.
        We found our 6 wk old outside alone in the freezing rain. As he is growing, I noticed when it comes to looking at him eye to eye, and hiding behind the couch or doors etc, it eventually turns into hide and seek lol. He looooves to peek around the corners and playfully gets closer with every peek..

          1. All of my cats actually know their name. If we call them individually, they will respond to their names being called.

        1. Aw I hope you get the love cats are my fave pets they’re our babies yes I have human children grown up now but I now have a 2 yr Siamese they’re the. best I’d love a 2nd but not sure Harry would understand

          1. Hi, where I live I befriended a alley cat. I’m allergic to cat’s but I have come to love her. I feed her and love her. I look into her eyes all the time. This is the last year I’ll be renting here and I want to take her.. I’m just scared that she will run away the first time the door is opened!!😥

        2. Aww I found my kitten at a shelter and we took her in when she was 1 week old. I woke up ever 3 hours to feed her but then I had to go on a business trip so I had my friend watch her and she hasn’t liked me very much since. I tried staring into her eyes and blinking slowly and she did it back then walked away and hid. I don’t know if that’s good or bad lmao.

          1. Hi Alethea,

            It might just take her some time to get reacquainted with you! Don’t give up. I am sure she will be purring on your lap again in no time.


      3. whenever i will stare at my cat and blink slowly she will come to me and rub and purr, she knows exactly what it means because she will do the same thing whenever she thinks she did something wrong

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      I agree. For some cats, especially those you don’t know, staring directly at them could be intimidating to them. In this article, I’m talking about our pet cats and suggesting that you “gaze” and softly blink, which is not intimidating.

      But thanks for pointing that out because you wouldn’t want to stare down a strange cat!

      1. Cats like you to blink not just stare them down that’s Aggressive my cat blinks back I’ve also trained him to wink

    2. I have a rescued kitten now 6 months old that interprets eye gazing as threatening. She will start with a low growl and become quickly agitated complete with the tail twitching. I don’t stare her down but do speak to her quietly. She just doesn’t like that type of communication. Anyone else in countered this behavior?

      1. Hi Terrie!

        Every cat is different. While soft gazes with blinks is generally not intimidating, some cats simply don’t like it the way others do. If you find your kitty doesn’t like soft gazing, you can try mimicking her voice, grooming her, or letting her rub on you as alternative ways to communicate that you love her! If you are concerned with her behavior, it is always best to talk to your vet!

        Hope this helps!


      2. I just tried it and my cat bumped my nose with hers and licked my arm.. then jumped down and meowed at her food bowl. We are both loved..

        1. I found my cat at the age of 3 weeks.. Now she is 9 months old but she doesn’t come to us to pet her.. Only rubbing on the legs.. She is very cute but never come to us (of not for food of course) 😔any advice?

          1. Olga,

            Aww, thank you for rescuing! She could still be getting accustomed to you. Rescue cats can take months to warm up to a new environment. Plus, some cats are just more picky than others when it comes to pets.

            Try to approach her slowly, and with a few treats in hand. After she lets you pet her, give her a treat. Then, she will begin to associate you with yummy treats!

            Try this for a few times per day and see if that helps! Keep me posted!


      3. My cat use to.. this is when I would wait for certain times when it was appropriate.. e.g lying on my lap and looking at me.

      4. Ive 2 kittens about 4 months old. I found them. Under a shed. At the beginning neither of them eould cone near me, but i went to their level and i rubbed my fave against each of theirs and they have been in love ever since… they both gaze at me, its the cutest thing because you can tell the “gaze” from just looking at you or wanting to play. I gaze back at them and they come as close to my face as they can get and they both lick my face to no return. Its awesome but once that bind is created, they pretty much would do anything for you. Heck they both even come when i call them, the first time, everytime… I love it!

      5. My cat Luna is a purring machine, she is so kind to strangers and feels comfortable among them, she picks her favourite humans which is pretty much anyone she encounters lol and me, her mom ♥️

    3. Agree she might accept a little slow blink but takes staring as a sign of aggration. Also cat does not like human mimacaring a cat.

    4. Its called the eye squeeze and as long as you are in good with said she’s you’ll be fine. Cats use it to communicate with each other. Wouldn’t recommend trying it up close on an unfamiliar cat..
      All kidding aside, I have a deaf cat and use this and other eye signals to communicate with him.

      1. Eye signals can be a great way to communicate with our kitties, especially if they are deaf or hard of hearing. I am glad to hear this form of communication is working for you and your sweet cat, Leila!


    5. Staring right in their eyes is not smart, no. Squinting at them works though, I think this advice was just poorly worded. If you make eye contact with your eyes mostly closed, then slowly open and close them again they do it back, or at least mine do. I’ve managed to get them purring by doing this before.

    6. If your bond either cat since it was a kitten staring in the eyes is no big deal matter of fact they enjoy it though butt their head against you and more signs of affection

      1. Yes I agree my cats have never attacked me and I have had lots over the years.
        Looking into their eyes and blinking slowly they do the same back

    7. I definitely appreciate your warning about staring into a cat’s eyes having found out the hard way as a child with my first cat; however, note the article says explicitly to blink slowly as cat’s do. That’s the diff. Right? I greatly appreciated the idea of mimicking cat’s vocalizations!!! Thanks!!!

    8. Exactly, it can be interpreted as a challenge. Madonna was instructed not to do that on a shoot with a big cat (a leopard I think) and foolishly decided she could bond with it by doing so. The handler had to step in when it got angry.

    9. My cat loves to stare at me and lick my nose and sometimes will gently bite my nose if I’m not paying attention to her she has six fingers and toes on all paws talks to me all the time thinks she is a dog I got her from a home a year ago they kept her inside a dark basement for six yrs when I come in from work she runs to my patio door ready to go out on the leash for a bit I bought a leash and harness for her she actually will not leave me alone until I take her out they estimate her to be about 11 yrs old she has had 9 teeth removed no problem eating though my advice is to love your cat they do love you back this cat started off as a young kitten living out of a hallway being abused to being where I got her from and I will never part with her she sleeps inside of my pillow case she wakes me up in the mornings to tell me it’s her time for the bed and if I don’t get up she don’t stop the meowing and walking over me till I get up thank you for listening

    10. I agree I know my cat loves me she crys when she see me in the driveway. Then she is all over me . Also she loves holding my feet when she sleeps. Lets just say ever owner knows their cats affection

  2. My cats love it when I gaze into their eyes. 😻Sometimes they give me the silent meows when I do.

    1. Well said, always someone who has to twist things. If you have a cat you know the differences, don’t be awkward!!

  3. My cats are both stable cats and have polar opposite behaviours.
    The tiny older one is not very vocal except when it comes to feeding time, is petrified of strangers but very paws on affectionate with his family. He headbutts, dribbles and loves paddy-pawing /making biscuits and purring like a V8 when it’s sleep time. He especially loves curling up on my daughter’s lap for hours when she’s sat cross-legged using her computer.
    The huge younger one is is more confident, less cuddly but is a leg rubber and loves to talk, interacting with whoever fancies a chat. When we pick him up for a human cuddle he purrs and paddy-paws the air. Very occasionally he seeks out a lap to sleep on and occasionally houners us with a headbutt, but if anyone is upset he’s the first to jump up to offer a chirp and cuddle of comfort.
    I love having such different characters in my furbabies and can’t imagine a life without cats in it. I’ve always said that one day I’ll be known as the mad old cat lady at the end of the road!

    1. Don’t worry I’ll also be a ‘mad old cat lady’. Like you I can’t imagine a life without cats. My mam was cat mad so I’ve always had a cat. My two favourite cats were both greys ; Holly a grey and white short hair kitten of a feral cat my mam used to feed and who turned out to have the sweetest nature of any cat I’ve ever owned and my current cat Oscar a grey fluff ball. I rescued him from a life on a dog farm he definitely wasn’t cut out for! Ten years on he’s still a little skittish at any sudden noise, hates the vacuum cleaner but adores me and loves to be cuddled. He’s in cat heaven when I’m pottering around in the garden and he’s hanging out with me. They all have such unique personalities. When I retire from work next year I will volunteer for a cat charity . Guess I’ve already turned into the ‘mad old cat lady’!!

  4. Yes!! I have recently adopted two kittens and the more timid one warmed up much more quickly when I met her gaze and blinked slowly at her. Sometimes I’d even close my eyes longer as if to let her know I trusted her with my eyes closed and could relax and sure enough, it worked! She would watch me and even look to see if I was peeking!
    Thanks for the article!

    1. I tried looking at my 5 month old male kitten eyes and blink. He has big eyes and just stares. He is sweet only to my husband and does bunk on my legs but is not interested in me even though I feed him. I have had many cats and they all liked me. I’m not forcing him. He is also naughty with me. What am I doing wrong?

      1. Hi Maria,

        Thanks for your question. I am sorry to hear that your kitten is being naughty! Sometimes kittens just take more time to warm up to some people than others – it’s not that you are doing anything wrong!

        If you find he is not responding to the slow blink or gaze, then try to bond with him through grooming, petting, or mimicking his voice. Those things can also communicate that you love him and eventually he will gain more trust for you.

        If you find these methods still don’t work, consider getting a pheromone diffuser like Feliway ( Their diffusers and sprays mimic all natural “happy messages” to help cats feel more comfortable and secure at home.

        I hope this helps!


  5. My husband and I rescued Cleo when she was about 6 weeks old at a campground and I coached her and and the day on rub she let me pet her was the day she had fell in love with me she’s my cat She lays with me she sleeps with me she purse and she loves to be rubbed around her head and her face

  6. My cat sits next to me and stares at me so I know that’s his way of showing love. He’s never been aggressive in all of his 16 years

  7. Hi. My kitty aged to 18 yrs old, and spoke with her eyes and body constantly! she loved me so much that sleeping on or near my head on the pillow was all she and I needed for a good night’s sleep. I fell and was unable to lift my body off the couch for 2 cat, lovingly , forsook the bed and planted herself on the top of my head to sleep! It looked so silly, my family would laugh when they came to help me, but it was so comforting for us both….She and I always “talked” with loving eye gazes and very slow (I trust you,) blinks after which she would happily stretch out and let you know she felt safe and loved. In tmes of stress, she was constantly rubbing her face on my hand or head..or head butting say “you are mine and I am glad!”.it seemed to me that she verbalized (although in her own “words” or actions) that she loved and appreciated me deeply. If I was sick, she knew and would not even ask for food or anything, she just stayed by me. Cats don’t really….but if they love you, you know you are special and worth being loved! 🐈😻

    1. Hi Sheila,

      WOW this story is so special! It sounds like your kitty really loves you. Thank you so much for sharing this. When our cats “choose” us we can really form a special bond with them. So much so that they might just lay on top of our heads when we need them! 🙂



  8. My indoor cat loves chasing and returning cold cocktail sausages you throw she chases brings back and drops at your feet wanting you to throw again would play it all day long if she could

  9. Really!
    My cat will have staring contest with me for ages.
    He is a very chilled cat though
    More like a dog than a cat.
    He licks me and waits expectantly at the door (^._.^)ノ

  10. I rescued my cat from the rcpca she was 2 years old her name was connie but i changed it to bonney after my mum she is the most beautiful cat i love her so much she sleeps in bed with me every night she has an out door catterery and loves being out side to see the birds and dogs and out side word

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