Feline Lexicon of Love
So here is my beef. Why is young love referred to as “puppy love”? Just because we cats don’t shower our people with sloppy kisses doesn’t mean we aren’t affectionate – we are just more cool about it. If you haven’t learned to appreciate the more subtle ways we express ourselves please pay attention as I summarize the feline lexicon of love.
Whether or not your cat is affectionate (in the manner that humans define it) can vary depending on her personality, breeding and upbringing. But when a cat chooses to express affection they typically show you rather than tell you.
The most common manner is through the slow eye blink (“eye love you”). Notice how cats greet strangers or other cats with an unblinking stare (“back away… now.”). But they reserve their slow eye blinks, “kitty kisses“, for their loved ones as a sign of contentedness and affection.
Another way cats show their adoration is through grooming and licking you, a sign that she accepts (or even owns) you as part of her family. And if you haven’t received a good head butt from a cat then you are really missing out. There are glands on our faces that secrete pheromones to mark territory but also to signal comfort and familiarity (cool tidbit: each cat’s pheromone signature is unique, just as your fingerprints are).
If your cat takes to stalking you from room to room and hangs out wherever you are, it’s a sign that she’s interested in you and wants to be where you are. Some cats who otherwise do not display affection can still express their love just by “being there for you”. They complete you without you even realizing it.
Of course there is the repugnant but more forthcoming show of affection through the offering of a mutilated mole or be-headed bird on your doorstep. Although most don’t appreciate this unselfish act of having a cherished gift bestowed upon them, your cat is hoping you’ll be pleased with the offering (and does not understand when you respond adversely).
Another grand gesture that is often overlooked is when your cat rolls over and exposes her belly to you. She is frankly stating that she trusts you and loves you and is willing to expose her vulnerability with you. Pay attention to our tails too. Many cats use a question mark-shaped tail to greet someone they like while a tail in the full upright position also indicates familiarity, trust and affection.
And you haven’t been loved fully if you haven’t been kneaded (pun intended) right? This instinctual gesture originates from birth, when we kneaded our mothers to stimulate milk flow. In later life, cat kneading signifies contentment, pleasure and adoration. This is one of the greatest expressions of love that your cat can bestow upon you.
Petting a purring, head-butting cat in your lap is a quiet pleasure that can make your day. Come give me a try. My name is Tilly and I am a gorgeous one year young long-haired calico cat. I am shy, as I had a rough start to life, so in the beginning I will show my emotion through wild fits of lying around but I enjoy other cats and look forward to demonstrating other subtle displays of affection with a new family of my own.
Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.