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how to say i love you to your cat

How to Tell Your Cat You Love Them in 15 Ways

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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! Allowing your cat to instigate affection shows them you both respect and love them.

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, scrapes, or sore areas.

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. Another great hunting feeder is the Cat-It Digger, as it is very inexpensive and slows down rapid eating behaviors.

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 or cat tree.

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, nervous, or in pain. 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, KristenLevine.com 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. My cat is a Scottish fold. I luv her with all my heart I’m happy i can actually tell her now 😊☺️😊

  2. don’t you just love how much cats like to ask for attenition, my grey cat,alya loves to look me in the eye,meow and rub against my toes…. im so thankful for cats.

  3. My female cat seems to know when I feel depressed. She’ll lie on me (across my stomach) and make squeaky noises 😂 it’s the best medicine and comfort for me. If she is outside and I walk to the local shop, she sits and waits on my neighbours fence until she sees me and runs up to me. Just adorable and I think she thinks she is a dog sometimes.

    1. Aww, sometimes our pets just know how we are feeling and what we need! Thanks for sharing, Lorraine.

      Kristen

  4. Awwww it works! I did the slow blink and extended my index finger to his nose and he did the slow blink back and he started purring!

  5. My cat is named Marvin. He used to never meow until I started giving him a can of tuna day. He has never purred once and I do have great hearing. I’m also not a very loving person to him during the day because I am very busy.He does however follow me room to room always trying to get ahead of me and guessing where I’m heading next. He is very sweet,does give me kisses on my legs,hands and try’s to grab my sleeve when I walk out the door and at night he always sleeps with me. To me he is the most perfect cat. I have never tried the eyes gazing yet. 😍🤔

  6. I have two cats, both with VERY different personalities and ways of showing love. One of my girls can’t stand not to talk, give headbunts, make you pick her up and is very vocal. The other is more independent, her love is not just shown to anyone (not even my husband) but at night she’s always on my chest, if I’m crying she won’t leave me till my eyes are dry. All I had to do was accept that I’m not #1 in the house and I’m only a slave to my girls. 😋😂

    1. Kellen,

      Thanks for sharing! It always amazes me how each cat can have such a unique personality. But, you’re right, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to admit that they are #1!😂

  7. my cat used to sleep with me and be quiet but now when i want to sleep she bite me and start acting aggressively but when i put her in my sisters room she come back quite and sleep on their bed i even start to sleep in the living room because of her i don’t know what to do 🙁

    1. Your cat sounds like she needs something fun/interesting to do at this time of night. Cats are most active at dusk and dawn (ish). Try Changing her nighttime feeding to right before she goes to bed. The best way to do this is to put her food in 3 small bowls and hide them around the house. The first few times, you might want to leave some “kibble tracks” to the bowls until the cat gets the idea to “hunt” the bowls on her own. That should keep her busy as you go to bed. Another thing to try would be to have playtime with her about 15 minutes before you goes to bed. Do something to tire her out. I would do both if it were me! Ultimately, it sounds like she has some issues with boredom and engagement. You can learn more about what to do with a bored cat here. I hope that helps!

  8. My cat is quite adventurous she’s always out and about. I’m moving and my cat does not like the new house she’s always hiding under the bed and out and out and a bought a lot more then usual. I tried to tell her I loved her. But I can’t find her anywhere.
    Do you know how I can help her feel more comfortable in our new house?

    1. Elise,

      Moving can be so stressful for cats and their pet parents! Many experts recommend keeping cats confined to a single room of the house when you first move in. Providing her with everything she needs in that room (and also giving her regular attention) can help her feel safe and let her regain her “ownership” of her territory. Then, as she gets more comfortable, gradually expand her territory by giving her access to more rooms. Watching her responses is key to knowing when she’s feeling safe and comfortable enough to move forward.

      Hope this helps!
      Kristen

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