Because cats have an extensive repertoire of gestures that express affection, deciphering the significance of your feline’s friendly behavior is like interpreting a wink from a handsome stranger. “Does he like me or does he just want dinner?” you ask (regarding Mittens that is, not the handsome stranger).
Saying It with Scent
Felines have their own unique language of scent and they use this as a way of telling you that you belong to them. Toodles has scent glands on her cheek, and when she rubs against you, she deposits pheromones detectable only to other cats. When kitty head-butts or caresses you softly with her cheek, she is saying “you are mine forever!” Kitties also like to leave their scent on your belongings too -- it’s their way of saying “what’s yours is mine!”
Kissing and Licking
Some kitties express affection by grooming their owners. It means she sees you as part of her extended family. Kitty kisses are more subtle and can take the form of gentle play-biting and the slow, leisurely blink, which is her way of blowing you a kiss from a distance. Back off though if her bites really start to bite though, because it probably means she’s tired of being petted.
The Tummy Rub
When your pet exposes his tummy, it is one of the highest honors he can bestow on you. It means he trusts you completely because his stomach is his most vulnerable body part. This can signal a desire to play as well being his way of telling you that he’s in the mood for a gentle massage.
Kitties purr using their laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Experienced owners know some felines purr with the gusto of a symphony from the New York Philharmonic, while others gurgle like a soothing summer rain. One thing is certain though -- if Puddles purrs when you come home from work and likes to curl up on your lap and purr, he finds your presence comforting and reassuring. Although some kitties purr when they are sick or frightened, if your purring pet seems happy and relaxed, it’s usually safe to say that purring is his way of expressing this.
When Fluff was a tiny kitten, he instinctively kneaded his mother to stimulate her milk flow. In adult cat, this gesture makes them feel comforted and protected. So, if your find yourself the recipient of this soothing rhythmic motion with kitty’s paws, you make him feel that all’s well with the world.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.