Behaviorist Lists Signs of Feline Affection

Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist, describes the ways cats show love for their owners.

A lick on your cheek, a rub against your ankle, a slow, soft blink … these are just a few of the ways your cat tells you it loves you, according to Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist based in Redondo Beach, Calif. Galaxy shared the seven signs of feline affection with Darcy Lockman of Studio One Networks.

1. Grooming: If your cat licks you, it’s a sign of affection, Galaxy says. After all, grooming is one of the first affectionate experiences kittens have. “Littermates, as they grow older, if they’re adopted together, will groom each other for life,” Galaxy says.

2. Purring: Your cat purrs in your presence because it feels cared for by you, Galaxy explains. Because of its experiences as a kitten, your cat associates purring with a feeling of satisfaction.

3. Rubbing: To show affection to other cats, dogs and humans, your cat will rub against them, or will knead its paws on them. “When your cat puts its scent on you, it’s saying something like, ‘You and I belong together…,’” Galaxy says. “It’s a scent compliment.”

4. Mock Spraying: To claim you as his own, your male cat might back up toward you with a quivering tail without producing a spray — a sign he wants to mark you.

5. Gumming: In another attempt to mark you as private territory, your cat might rub its gums on you, again blending its scent with yours.

6. Blinking: When your cat catches your eye from across the room and slowly blinks, return the gesture. “It’s actually a sign of trust, like showing you its belly,” Galaxy says. “It’s a form of communication I know works. Do it a few times with your own cat. It will begin returning it to you.”

7. Gifting: A favorite toy dropped at your feet or a dead mouse left on your doorstep signify your cat’s trust in you, Galaxy says. “When a cat brings a dead mouse home, it’s saying, ‘I bring this thing to my safe place,’” Galaxy explains. “It’s more a demonstration that your cat feels supremely safe in the home you share.”

When your cat shows these signs of affection, Galaxy suggested you return the favor. That way, your cat will know you feel the same way.

stock image of cat snuggling with owner

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