Cats get a bad rep sometimes. To the uninitiated, they seem like aloof, independent creatures, who would sell you out for a sniff of catnip. Even if all that is only partially stereotypical, cats are notoriously difficult to read. So despite the purrs and cuddles, despite even the slightest whiff of feline affection, you might still find yourself wondering if your cat knows you love them.
Does my cat know I love him?
Yes, but he probably doesn’t care. We’re joking, of course. The truth is, cats understand affection just like any other animal, and domestic cats might actually see us as their real-life mommies and daddies. A 2019 study revealed that kittens evince the same behavior towards us as they do their biological parents. This behavior doesn’t end when the cat reaches adulthood, either.
According to Comfort Zone, there’s a reason that domestic cats are so vocal. That meowing behavior is something that they usually reserve for their parents. They even have a unique series of meows just for their pet parents. So when an adult cat meows at you, they are doing so because they trust you, they love you, and deep down, they know you love them too.
How do I show my cat love?
Cats show love to us by meowing, kneading their paws on us while laying on us, sitting on our laps, and bunting. According to Southern Living, bunting is the definition of the way cats rub their cheeks up against us. This is an act of marking us with pheromones and “claiming” us as their own, but it’s also a sign of affection. We cannot show them "love" in the same ways, but there are things we can do.
Give your cat attention.
Giving your cat special attention might seem like giving in to their subtle manipulations, but if you want to show them love, you need to play ball. It could be as simple as letting them cuddle in your lap or allowing them to share your bed at night. As long as you regard them in some way, they’ll know you care.
The same goes for verbal communication. Understanding those subtle nuances in your cat’s meow isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. Your cat may want food, water, to be let outside, or to be petted. If you’ve had your cat for long enough, you can usually tell what it is they want.
Give them treats.
Domestic cats, especially those that are allowed to go outside, are more than capable of finding food on their own, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t like a rare treat from you now and then. Giving them cat treats, catnip, or the occasional table scrap will do wonders for your relationship. If you combine catnip with a special toy, as The Spruce Pets suggests, then you’ll end up with a very happy tabby.
Keep them stimulated.
This one is more important than you might think. Cats can get bored being cooped up inside all day, and while they like naps as much as the next person, they still thrive with stimulation. Play games with your cat, give them puzzle toys with treats hidden in them, or let them jump after a bundle of feathers on a string. Even a box or rolled up ball of paper towel will keep most of them busy. These activities will enhance your relationship and prove to them that you’re fun to be around.
No matter how you choose to show love to your cat, you can be reasonably assured that your cat knows how you feel. Cats aren’t stupid, they know what’s up. If they didn’t, then we probably wouldn’t have been picking up their turds for the past 9,500 years.