Cats are enigmas – it’s part of why we love them.
These lithe, silly, aloof creatures behave as if they contain multitudes, and while their little attitudes are very charming, they can also be harder to understand because of it.
But there are subtle ways you can tell whether or not your cat does, in fact, enjoy your company – which is not a given.
Samantha, scientific officer at the RSPCA said: ‘Humans are always keen to feel their pets adore them, but it is important to remember that every cat is an individual, and sadly not all cats will want to interact with you.
‘There are a number of ways our cats tell us that they enjoy our company and feel safe with us.
‘Learning to read your cat’s body language is hugely beneficial as not only can it show you how they feel about you, but it will enable you to spot signs of stress and understand when they want to be left alone.’
Here are Samantha’s top five body language cues your cat might be giving you to let you know they’re fond of you…
If your cat likes to smush their face on you, they’re spreading their scent on you, which is a good thing.
Samantha said this means they’re ‘marking you as a trusted friend rather than foe.
‘By marking you with their scent they are effectively recognising you as part of their social group. Scent is one of the most important senses to a cat, and mixing their scent with yours is a key part of bonding.’
Eye contact and slow blinking
Cats, like lots of other animals, find sustained eye contact threatening, so if they’re chilling and staring at you with almond or soft eyes, then that’s a good sign that they feel calm and comfortable with you.
‘Slow blinking is also a sign your cat is fond of you,’ Samantha added, ‘that they trust you and don’t feel the need to be on guard in your company.
‘Researchers have found that cats are more likely to approach a person who slowly blinks at them. If you want to show them you return their trust, mimic their slow blink back to them.’
Tail up greeting
A high tail with a downward curve at the top is a great thing to see in your cat.
‘You can tell a lot about how a cat is feeling by looking at their tail position and movements,’ explained Samantha. ‘A low swishing tail can indicate they are feeling stressed or unhappy, but a tail pointing upwards with a downward curve at the tip is a sign they are really happy to see you.
‘They might even approach you with a short “peeping” or “trilling” sound which is also a sign they are pleased to greet you.’
Social roll and showing their tummy
Even though most cats don’t approve of a belly rub, if they show you their tummy, they could be testing you.
‘A popular misconception is that when a cat shows you their tummy, they want it rubbed,’ said Samantha. ‘Stomachs are a very vulnerable area for a cat, and most cats don’t like to be touched there.
‘When a cat rolls over to show you their belly, they are greeting you and testing out whether they can trust you. A good response is to give them a head rub and show them their trust has been well-placed. Don’t be surprised if you get a scratch or a nip in response to stroking their belly.’
Allogrooming – when animals groom one another – is a very social activity for cats, and if they groom you, that means they’ve accepted you as a member of their team.
Samantha said: ‘Cats lick or groom other cats in their social group to both create a bond and to create a group odour. This scent helps cats to tell who is part of their social group.
‘If your cat licks you, it’s a pretty safe sign that they are trying to bond with you. However, owners should be aware of excessive licking, which can be a sign there is something wrong.’
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