Cat stereotypes involve aloof, nose-in-the-air head tosses and boredom where owners are concerned. True cat lovers know this isn't the whole story, and science seems to agree. Sure, cats are all about that 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours' kind of life, but a little love and genuine affection are also in the mix. Research conducted by Oregon State University found that, for the most part, cats preferred attention from a human over food and toys. So, how do cats show their affection when they're in a good mood?
Cats aren't as doting as dogs, and they also don't show their attachment in clear-cut ways. Some of their PDA are just plain bizarre. For example, cats will scratch your most-used and best-loved furniture to your chagrin. This behavior stems from possessiveness—if you pet your cat on a particular couch, they want to mark that couch, and by extension, you, as their property.
If your cat likes you, you're probably used to seeing its 'elevator butt.' Cats raise their tails for a scratch or to show you they don't mind your company. If the pose isn't a by-the-way gesture but an in-your-face one, it's a sign of respect and something kittens do with their mums. Congrats, you're officially a cat parent!
Cats get up close with their faces, too. They'll rub against your face or briefly bump heads with you. In doing so, they leave their scent all over you, brand you as a loyal and faithful minion, and stake a claim on your person. They might even do this with other familiar animals in the household. This behavior is called bunting, and it's probably one of the most touching behaviors, pun intended, in a cat's repertoire. If you have allergies, so-called hypoallergenic cats certainly help in these instances.
Purrs sometimes mean that a cat is a bit miffed or ill at ease, but more often than not, cats purr when they're content and being pampered and stroked. You'll hear and feel a gentle sound and may notice a still tail and sleepy-looking eyes. You probably have a similar expression when you go for a massage and sigh with happiness. But the purring is about more than just the tactile experience. It signals that you're friendly territory and a safe space.
Contrary to popular belief, cats are social animals, especially when exposed to nurturing humans during the first few weeks after they're born. One of the ways cats socialize is by doing the roly-poly. Cats stop, drop, and roll when they see someone they like and trust—this gesture attracts attention and invites interaction. If your cat gets on its back and shows you its belly, it's because it's feeling playful and wants to engage with you.
Cats have this one in common with toddlers. If you're new to cat ownership, get ready for your privacy to be invaded when you go to the bathroom. Your cat will see you head for the WC and follow suit, and they do so for myriad reasons. As creatures of habit, they may be following your routine. Or they might want a drink from the faucet or to play with objects they think are fun, such as your bathroom mat. But one of the main reasons is because they like being around you, even if it's just to stare creepily into your eyes.
Newborn kittens are blind and can barely hear. So, one of the most significant ways they interact with their moms is via touch. Kittens will knead their mother's body to stimulate milk flow. Years later, when they no longer require maternal feeding, you'll still catch them making the same pressing movement with their paws, only this time you're on the receiving end as they 'make biscuits.' Your cat usually only does this if it's bonded to you.
So, your cat just sashayed up to you with a rodent clamped between its jaws. Your first instinct is to yelp because you can see, in slow motion, that you're about to have a dead rat dropped in your lap. Ew! But after you get over your disgust and take a beat, you'll realize that your cat was simply showing you how much you matter. It might think you need feeding or view you as reliable enough to be around its prized catch.
Cats do a lot of licking—they spend close to half their days grooming themselves. This keeps them clean and cool and helps them spread their scent on objects of their affection. They lick their feline friends and pretty much anyone or anything they view as family, so consider yourself a part of your kitty's clique when you experience tongue-lashings.
Your cat will only lie down for a snooze somewhere it feels secure and at home. If that happens to be your lap, you should accept it as the honor it is. Your cat could pick any warm and familiar spot around your home to bed down, but you're a source of particular comfort, so you'd best get used to the extra weight.
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