The language of true love is universal but what is “kitty’s own language”? That question should be the start of this article. The simple and honest answer is that we don’t yet fully understand cat communication which has many facets (sounds, body language, visual markers and scents). We certainly don’t understand feline vocalizations very well; for example, we believe meowing is a request to us for something. This sound has been specifically learned through being domesticated by us.
We are better at cat body language as a way to communicate and so if you want to say “I love you” in kitty language it is likely to be through actions more than words or actions supported by sounds.
The behavior of love is both body language which a cat understands and also in doing various things for your cat which benefits him and which he likes. In the real world of human to human relationships a similar rule applies: actions speak louder than words. It is easy to say something but far more meaningful to do something demonstrating your love. The words ‘I love you’ tend to be misused by people. You can test love through behavior.
If you truly love your cat you’ll enjoy the good moments and also nurse him/her through illness and always do the right thing for his safety and welfare no matter what. This true consistency of care creates a close bond between cat and human. The bond is felt by your cat. It is a bond of love and tenderness.
The points I have made are rather unspecific. What about specifics?
This is body language communication. Thanks to the internet a lot of cat caretakers know about it. When cats are content and looking at you they might do a slow blink in response your soft words or touch (some experts think high pitched sounds are suitable for cats, I don’t personally). People interpret the slow blink in various ways. However, it is probably agreed that it is a communication of being at ease in your company which in turn reflects a close relationship built on trust and therefore love. When a cat slow blinks he is letting you know he is being vulnerable towards you which indicates trust.
You can blink back! It shouldn’t be done mechanically but slowly with love in the heart using a relaxed face and soft eyes. Staring as we know will not be well received by your cat.
The question is, does your cat receive that as a statement of love? You can make you own mind up on that. It is more likely to be received as reinforcement of the bond between cat and person. My belief is that we communicate our love for our cat through a collection of behaviors one of which can include the slow blink.
How are you? Head lift
When I talk to my cat I sometimes copy a behavior I learned from my late lady cat which I call the head lift. She used to do it to me. It is interesting that Jackson Galaxy has picked up on this too. He refers to it as a “how ya doin’?” behavior. The head is rocked backwards slightly. Jackson incorporates this with the slow blink. My cat Charlie doesn’t do this behavior. This is more a piece of friendly cat to human communication which reinforces the bond.
Although not quite in the league of “love” getting a cat who does not know you to trust you can take a bit of skill. It does depend on the cat’s personality of course but people can do certain things which assist the process. Starting off with the slow blink and head lift might be a good start. Then allowing the cat to safely smell your scent perhaps by presenting the cat with something on you like a wallet or purse will get the ball rolling. Then the back of the hand can be presented to the cat and if you’re lucky he might rub his nose against it. This is the friendly greeting.
Surely this universal cat to human interaction is a way of showing one’s love. Cats do it to each other if they are friends. It is called allogrooming; cats licking each other. Our version of licking is stroking using our hand. My cat Charlie is ill. Daily I use a damp cotton ball to wash around his eyes, nose and mouth. He likes it and I sense that for him it is me grooming him. An act of love? Of course.
Cats that are friendly towards each other spend time close to each other. The simple act of being in physical contact, feeling the reassurance of body heat and presence is a subtle act of deep friendship. Contact can take various forms.
An underlying rule is that we have to tell our cat we love her at a pace and in a manner that is comfortable for the cat. We play by their rules. I’d like to know how you tell your cat you love her in her language.