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There’s a longstanding stereotype that cats are standoffish and unaffectionate, especially in comparison to dogs. Many cat parents can attest this simply isn’t true, but some may be curious as to why cats aren’t as outwardly cuddly as their canine counterparts.
Like humans, pets have different love languages, and different species demonstrate affection in different ways. Cats, no surprise, often express love and affection more subtly than dogs.
Perhaps the most universal sign of feline affection, purring is a tell-tale sign that a cat is happy and content. This is especially true if cats are purring while being stroked or petted.
Eye contact is key with cats. After all, eyes are the windows to the soul. Cats make direct eye contact with those they feel safe with. If a cat is starting and blinking slowly, as if falling asleep, they are expressing deep comfort and love.
Cats are notoriously clean creatures. Like with other animals, grooming is an incredibly valuable bonding experience between them and their humans. If a cat allows someone to comb its fur or brush their teeth, it means they’re very comfortable with that person. Similarly, cats grooming their parent(s) is another sign of affection.
Kneading is an instinctive behavior learned as kittens. While cats initially learn to do it as a means to express milk from their mothers, they carry the behavior into adulthood. Adult cats may knead to mark their territory, create a safe nest, and signal when they feel safe and cozy - especially if it's on their parent or nearby on soft blanket.
This one may be a bit of a head scratcher, but it's yet another behavior cats learn as kittens. Head butting, or the occasional cheek rub, allows cats to share their scent with humans and other animals, and vice versa. This scent exchange is an incredibly important bonding experience between cats and others, signaling comfort, possiveness, and affection.
Are there other distinct ways a cat shows affection? Of course. Pets are as unique as their parents. If a pet parent has any questions or concerns about the ways a cat is behaving they can contact Fuzzy’s veterinary support team via 24/7 Live Vet Chat to ask if the behavior is normal or if adjustments can be made to make the cat more comfortable and therefore more willing to share affection.