Behaviorist Lists Signs of Feline Affection

Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist, describes the ways cats show love for their owners.

Posted: February 6th, 2008 at 5 a.m. EST

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Feline behaviorist Jackson Galaxy gives some signs that show a cat's affection for you
Your cat shows its love for you with physical forms of affection such as rubbing up against you or grooming you.
A lick on your cheek, a rub against your ankle, a slow, soft blink … these are just a few of the ways your cat tells you it loves you, according to Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist based in Redondo Beach, Calif. Galaxy shared the seven signs of feline affection with Darcy Lockman of Studio One Networks.

1. Grooming: If your cat licks you, it’s a sign of affection, Galaxy says. After all, grooming is one of the first affectionate experiences kittens have. “Littermates, as they grow older, if they’re adopted together, will groom each other for life,” Galaxy says.

2. Purring: Your cat purrs in your presence because it feels cared for by you, Galaxy explains. Because of its experiences as a kitten, your cat associates purring with a feeling of satisfaction.

3. Rubbing: To show affection to other cats, dogs and humans, your cat will rub against them, or will knead its paws on them. “When your cat puts its scent on you, it’s saying something like, ‘You and I belong together…,’” Galaxy says. “It’s a scent compliment.”

4. Mock Spraying: To claim you as his own, your male cat might back up toward you with a quivering tail without producing a spray — a sign he wants to mark you.

5. Gumming: In another attempt to mark you as private territory, your cat might rub its gums on you, again blending its scent with yours.

6. Blinking: When your cat catches your eye from across the room and slowly blinks, return the gesture. “It’s actually a sign of trust, like showing you its belly,” Galaxy says. “It’s a form of communication I know works. Do it a few times with your own cat. It will begin returning it to you.”

7. Gifting: A favorite toy dropped at your feet or a dead mouse left on your doorstep signify your cat’s trust in you, Galaxy says. “When a cat brings a dead mouse home, it’s saying, ‘I bring this thing to my safe place,’” Galaxy explains. “It’s more a demonstration that your cat feels supremely safe in the home you share.”

When your cat shows these signs of affection, Galaxy suggested you return the favor. That way, your cat will know you feel the same way.

stock image of cat snuggling with owner

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Reader Comments

Katie    Cleveland, OH

9/11/2012 1:59:49 AM

My cat Apollo loves to play "fetch", rubs against my hubby and I is always the one to greet us when we come home, etc. He's not into being petted, cuddled held or sitting on laps but he gives us the slow cat blink all the time. He grooms my husband, and gives him kitty massages while my husband is napping and sleeping and loves to sleep by him. Apollo grooms him sometimes while he's awake and when he is sick.

Kathy    Harford, NY

5/12/2012 4:47:23 PM

I love cats and would love to get one. A cat that my family thinks is a stray has been coming around. I had been wondering about the sings of affection from cats. When i read this articale i was very happy because the cat that has been coming around (i call her my baby)has been showing these signs. She is a sweet girl and i love her. And i would like 2 say that i love Jackson Galaxy and his work on my cat from hell.

Razz Bomar    Windsor, CA

8/1/2011 2:40:04 PM

I have a 5 yr old nuetered male Ragdoll who I have had since he was a kitten. About a year ago he started a really wierd behavior. He started spraying me while sleeping in the middle of the night. I would wake up to the feeling of him spraying me on the back of my neck. the same place three different times. He is no longer allowed to sleep with me at night. He did it again a week ago. Why is he doing this??? I have had cats my whole life and have never experienced this. Please help!

Linda    FALMOUTH, England, ID

1/31/2011 2:28:33 PM

I have three cats all rescued by myself. Peter I found someone trying to drown him. He was the runt of a litter, and my two girls Phebie and Phelie I found dumped in a cardboard box on the motor way.

My male is about six years (human years) older than the girls, but he treats them with lots of love and fuss. Grooming them and on the odd occasion when he's in a mood, tells them off lol..

He is also the reason I am here today telling you about them. Seven years ago there was a fire in my house, and my alarm didn't go off. An energy efficient bulb had melted in the socket and dripped hot plastic and molten glass onto the floor. I was fast asleep. And Peter instead of leaving through the cat flap to safety, came up through the smoke and flames and woke me up. He came and howled at me before running back down the stairs, waiting at the bottom and on realising I wasn't coming came back and repeated this several times until I fully woke up and realised what was happening.

The fire brigade wanted to put him forward for an award, but it never came about. I owe him my life! He's very protective of me, and five years ago alerted me to a burglar that had attempted to brake into a house a few doors away. And was now hiding in my garden from the police. Knowing he shouldn't be there he did the same as he did with the fire running up and down the stairs howling, until I followed him into the lounge and look to see what he was looking at out side the window. Thank you Peter, my little fury guardian angle. xx

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