Does Your Cat REALLY Love You? (Or Are They Just In It For The Food?)

January 14, 2019


Does Your Cat REALLY Love You? (Or Are They Just In It For The Food?)

A lot of people – mind you, this mostly refers to dog lovers – believe that cats don’t love their owners because they tend to come across as unapologetically indifferent. As a cat owner, you probably understand that, and maybe even have some personal experiences with cats acting aloof, like when they don’t greet you when you come home from work. Stand-up comedian Zoltan Kaszas couldn’t have encapsulated the essence of having pet cats better – “… [It’s] like [having] an apathetic roommate that sometimes wants to hang out.”

All joking aside, is it right to believe that your cat doesn’t really love you just because they don’t have this constantly-in-your-business energy that other pets, like dogs, have? The answer – no. Believe it or not, your cat stays with you not just because you give them food, but also because they do love you. Not convinced? Here’s a little background on cat behavior, and why they aren’t as showy with their feelings as dogs. In case you want more information, feel free to head on over to Cats.How.

Why cats don’t show affection like dogs do

While cats are busy staring out the window all day, all dogs want to do is play with or be pet by you. Your little tigers aren’t the same way because of three primary reasons:

  1.   They perceive humans differently.

According to cat expert John Bradshaw, the behavior of cats doesn’t significantly change from when they’re with other cats to when they’re with humans. Because of this, they can sometimes treat their owners like their mothers, and in some cases, even like their offspring.

  1.   They aren’t needy.

Cats don’t always want their humans’ attention, nor do they need it. Whenever they find themselves in unfamiliar situations, they choose to explore on their own, as opposed to dogs which usually prefer the guidance and comfort of their owners.

Daniel Mills, a researcher from the University of London, further explains this by saying that cats, unlike dogs, don’t stay in packs often. In the wild, our feline friends don’t hunt and travel in groups. Historically, they don’t depend on other cats for survival, which is why it’s only natural that they don’t depend on their owners either.

The good news about all this is that if your cat chooses to stay in your home, then it’s most likely because they genuinely want to.

  1.   They’re cautious about their environment.

Don’t take it personally when it seems like your cat constantly has their back to you, because it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being ignored. As both predator and prey, cats are extremely cautious about their surroundings, so them having their back to you means two things: 1) they’re on the lookout for potential threats, and; 2) they trust you enough to know that you literally got their back.

Although knowing those three things doesn’t automatically make you an expert on cat behavior, hopefully, they will at least help you have a deeper appreciation of the many covert ways that your cat says, “I love you.”

How Cats Show Love

  1.   Purring

Surely, you’re familiar with the motor-like vibration sounds that your cat sometimes makes. More often than not, the common understanding of purring holds true, which is that cats do it whenever they feel happy or content. However, that’s not always the case; cats also purr when they’re hungry, anxious, or feeling threatened. So, watch out for context as well.

  1.   Blinking Slowly

Otherwise known as cat kisses, slow blinks are your cat’s way of saying, “Hey, I feel quite relaxed, and I like having you here.” Appreciate these whenever you receive them, because they don’t come around that often.

  1.   Body language

One thing that cats have in common with dogs is that they keep their tails in an upright position whenever they’re in a positive mood. When their tail is curved at the end, it just means that they’re thrilled to see you.

Another thing to watch out for in your cat’s body language is an exposed belly. This not only signals that they’re ready to play, but also that they trust you enough to give you access to a vulnerable part of their body.

  1.   Grooming You

It’s no secret that cats love grooming themselves, which is why the minute they do it to you, it usually means that they want to keep you around.

  1.   Bringing Gifts

Indeed, waking up to dead birds next to morning newspapers is a mundane event for cat owners. The truth is, cats do this to show that they care, since they see their hunting trophies as gifts that they chose to give to you.

Although it’s good to watch out for these signs, try not to force them. Cat behavior is complex and unpredictable; many factors could affect it, including your cat’s breed and personality. Building a bond with one is a relatively long and complicated process, but once you do, you’ll have a companionship that you wouldn’t trade for anything – yes, even one with a dog.


Katie Cohen is a freelance writer specializing in the subject of feline health and behavior. An avid dog lover and adoring owner of two cats. When she’s not working she loves going to the park with her two Weimaraner’s Lily and Bells
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *