Cats are fascinating, mysterious creatures. They’re also adorable, playful and sometimes, a little silly. Cats easily earn our admiration and affection. According to the Smithsonian Institution, our love affair with cats goes back thousands of years. Despite a relationship between humans and felines that has only grown stronger across millennia, many cat lovers to this day still wonder: Does my cat like me?
Unlike dogs, whose sometimes overwhelming displays of affection are a clear giveaway for their feelings toward us, cats are typically subtle with the ways they show their love. Because of this, some cat parents are self-conscious about how their cat really feels about them. If you’ve ever wondered how to bond with your cat, you’re not alone. Luckily, it’s possible to learn your cat’s love language. Once you understand more about what your cat’s feeling and how cats express themselves, you’ll know better how to tell your cat you love them back.
- Learn to read cat body language
Cats are naturally secretive animals that are less inclined to social expression than dogs and humans. However, they do communicate with us – we just have to decode their signals! Here are some common cat moods, each with its own set of signs, according to the American Humane Society:
- Relaxed: Cats that are feeling comfortable and content may adopt a lounging position, closing their eyes often as though sleepy. Their pupils will look normal (not too wide or narrow,) and their ears will be up and facing forward, but not moving quickly. A relaxed cat’s tail will generally be still and often resting on the floor. Relaxed cats may even purr or “make biscuits” by rhythmically kneading their front paws on a surface like their bed or your lap. A relaxed cat is a happy cat!
- Playful: When your cat’s feeling playful, she’ll look more alert than usual, with ears perked up and often darting around, listening for every little sound. Her eyes will be open wide and the pupils may be dilated (appearing wider than usual). Her tail will often be held high and may wag or twitch a bit, especially if she’s zeroing in on her favorite toy! Alternations between quick movements and sudden stillness are behaviors associated with your cat’s predatory instincts – for her, playtime is a substitute for stalking prey – and that’s why play is such an important source of mental and physical stimulation for your cat. If she’s feeling extra frisky, she may even meow or paw at you for attention.
- Anxious: A nervous cat will tuck her ears and whiskers back against her head. Her eyes will be open wide and the pupils may be very dilated, appearing large and round. Her tail will often be tucked against her body. She will likely be crouching if sitting still, keeping her head and body low. Cats who are feeling anxious often seek a dark, quiet place where they can be alone – such as under your bed – until they feel more comfortable.
- Upset: An angry cat may look similar to an anxious cat, but instead of quietly crouching or hiding, an upset cat will often let you know by puffing up her fur, arching her back and raising her tail. A cat that is feeling defensive may even growl or snarl, showing her sharp canine teeth. Some common situations where cats may show these behaviors include during veterinary exams, meeting a new dog or cat housemate for the first time, or even just being petted when they’re not ready for it. If you see that a cat is showing these signs, consider giving her some space and helping alleviate whatever is causing the distress – otherwise she may feel the need to defend herself by biting or scratching.
- Learn to “speak cat” and win your kitty’s affection
Now that you know how to read a cat’s expressions, you might be wondering how to get a cat to like you. You’ll be happy to know that there are sophisticated ways we can communicate with our cats that go way beyond the basic “pspsps” or “here kitty kitty!”
- Head-butting (or “bunting”): This might be one of the most endearing things our cats do. When a cat head-butts you (technically called “bunting”,) she’s telling you that she accepts you as part of her social circle. Technically, she’s rubbing pheromones on you from scent glands on her cheeks and chin. You can reciprocate by gently bringing your hand or face close to her face, allowing her to rub her cheek or forehead against yours. If that’s not cute, we don’t know what is.
- Grooming: Cats groom themselves often, and sometimes groom one another as a form of social bonding. While cats groom with their tongues, we can achieve a similar effect with our hand or a brush. There are many grooming tools available for you to try. Remember to approach grooming gently, and only when your cat seems content and receptive. She’ll let you know if she disapproves! Once you get familiar with your cat’s grooming preferences, it will become a routine bonding opportunity for the two of you – with the added bonus of preventing furballs and dust-bunnies.
- Cat chat: Did you know adult cats generally only “meow” at us, and not to one another? The ASPCA suggests that meowing among adult domestic cats is a special behavior that helps them live alongside humans. Some cats are more talkative than others, so tuning in when your cat talks will help you understand what she’s trying to say. Cats meow for many reasons, but generally it’s to get your attention, ask you for something (often food or treats) or to express discomfort. If you’re concerned that your cat is meowing more often than usual, consider a vet visit just to make sure she’s not trying to tell you something’s wrong.
Don’t forget, cat conversations can go both ways. Whether you talk to your cat about what a good kitty she is, tell her what your day was like, or simply reply to her with meows of your own (hey, we’ve all done it!), she’ll appreciate the chitchat.
So we’ve covered cat communication. But true love means more than just that. To really show your cat how much you care, you’ll want to make sure all her needs are met. Here are some tips for how to make your cat happy and keep her healthy.
- Provide a clean home that lives up to your cat’s standards
Cats are famously clean animals. Your cat might spend hours a day cleaning herself. Treat her to a litter box that does the same! A self-cleaning automatic cat litter box is the perfect way to ensure your cat always has a fresh, clean place to do her business, while also freeing you from the chores of scooping and scrubbing. Less time maintaining the litter box means you can spend more quality time with your cat. And to make sure that love is the only thing in the air, choose a litter box that uses special crystal litter for maximum odor control. If you want to go the extra mile for your favorite feline, a smart litter box gives you peace of mind by allowing you to keep track of her potty habits, an important way to detect early warning signs for health problems.
- Provide play opportunities that tap into your cat’s instincts
Cats are born to hunt. Satisfying a cat’s predatory drive is a big part of helping your beloved companion get the most out of life. While pampered indoor kitties don’t get many opportunities to chase after real mice and birds, there are plenty of exciting toys available to tantalize your cat while sparing the wildlife! Many cats respond well to the simple laser pointer. Cats enjoy stalking, chasing and pouncing after the elusive red dot. If your cat can’t get enough of that tricky laser darting around, consider an automatic laser cat toy so the feline fun can continue even when you’re busy or you’ve got your hands full. And as for the mice, there are other interactive cat toys that simulate a cautious critter peeking in and out of hidey holes, just as a real rodent would in the wild. Try an automatic cat toy and watch your cat become the wily predator she was born to be!
- Provide food and water just how (and when!) your cat likes it
Cats can be finicky when it comes to dinner and drinks. If you really want to make your cat purr, make sure she gets a consistent daily routine, with meals delivered on time and fresh, clean drinking water always available. Many cats are night owls, meaning they might prefer dinner at midnight or breakfast at dawn. To ensure she eats on her preferred schedule (and to avoid an early meowing wakeup call), consider an automatic pet feeder. With precise portions and meals scheduled days in advance, you can set up an eating routine you and your cat can trust. Smart pet feeders even connect to your smartphone so you can offer a snack any time or tell the feeder to provide a meal when you’re running late. When it comes to water, just like meal time, consistency is key. Cats prefer clean, running water – this is why we sometimes catch them sipping from the sink faucet. With a pet fountain, your cat always has access to fresh, filtered, flowing water 24/7. Pet fountains even encourage cats to drink more often, which is key to a healthy body and mind.
Here’s a quick summary of helpful items that can help you and your cat enjoy a better life together:
- Self-cleaning litter boxes
- Crystal cat litter
- Smart litter boxes
- Automatic laser toys
- Interactive toys
- Automatic pet feeders
- Smart pet feeders
- Pet fountains
From rambunctious kittens to sweet senior cats, our feline soulmates bring us so much joy. Earning the trust and affection of a cat is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. If you take the time to read your cat’s body language, understand her feelings, engage her social behaviors and fulfill her instinctive, biological and emotional needs, you’ll build a deep, lasting bond. We know how much that means to you. That’s why PetSafe® is here to help you keep your cat healthy, safe and happy for a lifetime of love.