Let me count the ways
There is a deeply entrenched myth that cats see humans as nothing more than well-trained food dispensers. However, as a devoted cat owner, I am deluded enough to think that my cat loves me. So, I’ve constructed a list to prove that, in fact, she does, and that I’m not merely underpaid domestic staff.
While I can’t read her mind, I know there are specific, unique ways that cats say, “I love you.” This list is the hard evidence that ours is not just a one-sided love.
How I know she loves me ….. let me count the ways …. (there are 12)
- She meows at me; she is talking to me. Adults cats do not meow to other cats, only to humans. Cats communicate with each other through scent, body language, facial expression and touch. Cats have learned that they cannot communicate with us the way they do with cats, which is why they meow at us, and they have different meows depending on whether they want food or attention, are in pain, happy or grumpy. A short, quick meow is a quick ‘hello” while multiple meows after she has not seen me for a while is a very excited greeting: “I’ve missed you”.
- She purrs, loudly. Cats love with purrs and their purrs can mean a variety of things, from delight to concern. Purrs also range from gentle to chainsaw loud, but even if she purrs right in your ear, you can be sure your cat’s expressing her love for you.
- She stares at me. Awkward. But cats only make direct eye contact with people they really like. Staring and slowly blinking is a form of great affection. It’s the equivalent of being kissed. If your cat stares, then blinks, then opens their eyes wide, then slowly blinks a second time, they’re saying they love and trust you. Sometimes, I even do it back, but only if no one is watching.
- She follows me around. She comes and just hangs out to see what I’m doing, even decides to wait will I’m in the shower. She’ll follow me from room to room, jump onto the back of the furniture to be at the right height to grab a quick pat and always seems to be right where I am. She evens does this when it’s not near feeding time.
- She sits on my lap, almost constantly, she evens tries to get there while I am on the loo. She likes to sit on other parts of me as well, like my head.
- She shows me her belly – her most vulnerable fluffy part – by flopping down on the floor right where I’m about to step. Pretty inconvenient. But cats do not show their stomachs to just anyone, so if she does decide to give me a fluffy flash, thereby rendering herself defenceless, it means she feels comfortable, loved and protected. She trusts me.
- She tries to trip me up. Annoying and dangerous, but when she throws herself to the ground in front of me or rubs against my legs, it is a sign of true love. Rubbing against another creature is how cats show affection; she’s putting her scent on you as a way of claiming you.
- She head-butts me. Odd, but head-butting actually shows that your cat truly cares. Cats have scent glands on their cheeks and heads. When she rubs her head or face against me, she’s marking me with her scent; I’m part of her family group. She loves me, it’s true.
- She licks me. An honour I really do not enjoy. Licking is a way of creating a social bond. Cats are very attentive to moods, so my cat is more licky when I’m upset or sick. She is trying to calm my anxiety the same way I would if she were nervous. I always have to remind myself that to my cat being licked feels good, she doesn’t know I don’t like it, so I just have to try for as long as I can not to wriggle away .
- She bites me. Another enjoyable trait, not. Biting playfully is a sign of affection. Gently nipping at my hand is another way of saying she loves me, because love bites are how cats interact with each other.
- She kneads me, like dough. She uses her paws to push in and out against a soft surface, like my lap or chest. Apparently, this is what kittens do to their mothers when they are feeding, so my cat thinks I’m her mum and adores me. When she is curled up on my lap and kneading me while I’m patting her, she’s returning the affection. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, as she always seems to find bare skin and the happier she is, the harder she digs in with her claws. Thankfully, I don’t have to insult her by rejecting her PDA: a blanket or cushion between me and her claws eases the painful part of this process.
- She brings me presents. Popular gift choices are mice and birds, which she likes to set free inside, but let’s not forget about the decapitated rats, skinks, and once she even brought me stinky, horrible, live weasel. Cats love with gifting. Mighty hunter cats share the bounty with those they love, so she does get the praise these gifts deserve.
Reading through this list, I’m actually beginning to wonder why I do love our spoilt moggie so much. These PDAs are not the most endearing ways to communicate that my cat loves me, but I guess I there’s no need to anthropomorphise them.
Cat love, I suspect, is deeper, truer and less fickle than the human variety and just look at the number of ways she has been trying to demonstrate that my cat loves me.
We’re pretty lucky to have her with us!
If you’re going away for work or on holiday, you’ll want to leave you cat at a quality cattery where the staff are good at talking cat and are well-trained, by cats, in how to look after cats. The cat hotel at Auckland Kennel & Cattery is a semi-communal, large airy space where cats feel safe and comfortable. If you’re looking for a comfortable, safe and secure environment for your cat where you know your cat will be well cared for, call 09 299 7415 to ask about the benefits of a cattery. Inspections are welcome between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm each day.