9 ways domestic cats show their affection for us

The picture shows a 12-year-old senior and deaf cat who was rescued demonstrating his deep affection for Gerald, who he adores. He shows his affection every waking moment Karyn, Gerald’s wife, says.

Cat shows signs of affection
Cat shows huge signs of affection. Photo: Kitty Adventure Rescue League and Sanctuary.
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Before he was rescued he lived in a garage in Texas. He was neglected and deprived of food. A woman, Karyn Poplin, visited Kiddie Adventure Rescue Legion Sanctuary and found Nobbs. It was love at first sight. He climbed up her legs and cuddled her and held onto her in a tender loving hug.

Signs Of Affection

There are several ways that domestic cats show their affection for us.

Tail Up

The first way that I would like to mention is the tail up position. We know that when domestic cats greet themselves in a friendly manner they approach with the tail up. They do the same with us. It is a sign that the cat has friendly intentions and they wait to see whether the other cat reciprocates. This is obviously impossible for a human and therefore it is presumed that domestic cats have learned enough about human body language to work out whether their human friend has got the message and will reciprocate which we often do by reaching down and stroking our cat.

It is believed that raised tail body language has its origins in the kitten-mother relationship.

Rubbing Against Us

Another way that they show affection is by rubbing against us. Every cat owner has experienced this. Often they will do this against our leg because of height differences. They won’t normally expect a response because unless we bend down and stroke or cat we don’t respond.

They rub against us with the flank of their bodies. They might do the same thing with their cheek or they will show their pleasure when we rub the side of their face.

Rubbing happens more intensely when domestic cats are about to be fed. This supports the obvious conclusion that it is a sign of affection. It is not cupboard love because they do it other than when being fed and friendly cats do it with each other often.

Head Butting

Head-butting (bunting) is a charming characteristic of domestic cat. It does deposit scent on us and is therefore a merging of our scents. It happens when greeting each other or when cats who are friends walk side by side. You may put your hand out and your cat may head-butt your hand or he may do it against your leg. I see it as another form of rubbing against us.

Nose Touching

Nose touching, I think too, is a sign of affection. It is certainly part of a friendly greeting and is combined with the tail up position. In my experience when my cat touches my nose he does not sniff it. It is simply the touching of noses and happens quite briefly.

Eye Blink

The slow eye blink is another well-known display of affection. When you talk to your cat at close range, the sound of your voice can elicit a slow eye blink from your cat. To me this is a sign that your cat is content in your presence and that he trusts you. Cat lovers call this behaviour “cat kisses”. I would bet that many cat guardians blink back in response.


The lap cat shows his affection in his unwavering desire to sit on your lap. It’s a desire to be next to you and feel your warmth. No doubt you will stroke him or rest your hand on him while he is on your lap. This is a mutual exchange of affection. Domestic cat show their affection by wanting to be close to us. It needn’t be on your lap. They might come onto your bed, lie down next you, go under the duvet or any other variation with the intention of being close to us. This is a palpable sign of affection.


Vocalisations are another way that cats show their affection towards us. The contented purr when he sits down on your lap must be a sign of affection. The chirps or squeaks, the excited sounds that your cat might make when he greet you at the front door, is a classic example.


Affection can also be shown in a way that domestic cats fit in with our routines and shadow us. They learn how to adapt and become close to us. Their acceptance of becoming emotionally close to us in a sign of affection. For example, when I go out in the morning to the gym to try and keep reasonably fit, my cat, simultaneously, goes out the back door to explore the outside. I find this to be charming and for me it is a sign of affection.


Finally, a cat was shows affection by grooming us. Often a cat will groom himself while sitting on our lap and then groom our hand during the same grooming session. It’s called mutual grooming or allogrooming and as they do it amongst themselves as well. It’s a clear sign of friendship.

There are numerous signs, therefore, of our cat companion’s affection for us and in a way we don’t need to spell them out because bundled together you can sense it, see it and feel it.

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2 thoughts on “9 ways domestic cats show their affection for us”

  1. Befriending a deaf cat is something special and so heartwarming. They appreciate it SO much. As for the signs: yes and my cats do all these things. I’ve noticed that a cat will usually have a favorite expression and emphasize it. My cat Pete used to sing out long loud meows to me when I pulled into the driveway. Callie likes to stop, drop and roll in front of me when we meet outside (is that one for the list?). Another that many of mine have done is the wide-eyed-stare-from-across-the-room…

  2. I’m so glad this baby now has a loving forever home. You can see by the photo that they both love each other. Also, let’s not forget the paw touch. Our daughter likes to lift her paw up and she knows it gets me every time because it is so damn cute!!


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