Source: LeicestershireLive (Extract)
Posted: February 19, 2023

Cats are renowned for their independent personalities, gracefulness and cleanliness. They are also often seen as being rather aloof creatures. Do they really love their owners? Or are they only interested in snuggling up on the settee when they are either cold or hungry?

Typically, our feline friends are creatures of habit. And while they are generally inquisitive animals, they can easily be upset by sudden changes in routine, or become extremely stressed out and skittish if exposed, for example, to strange, loud or otherwise unexpected sounds.

Pets are complex and without being able to ask them, it’s sometimes hard to tell how they really feel. Experts say that cats do show genuine affection – but they show it in subtle ways.

Samantha Watson, a cat behaviour specialist with the RSPCA, has decided to shed some light on the mystery. She has revealed five specific displays of affection that owners should watch out for.

“There are a number of ways our cats tell us that they enjoy our company and feel safe with us,” she said. “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.

“Cats are often thought of as being a bit aloof, but they do give away some subtle body language cues that show how much they like you,” she added. “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.”

Here are the top 5 ways to tell if your cat enjoys your company:

1. Headbutts

“Whenever a cat rubs their head or cheek against you, they are actually transferring some of their own scent onto you and marking you as a trusted friend rather than foe”, said Samantha. “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.”

2. Eye contact and slow blinking

“For cats and many other animals, eye contact can be something very threatening, so if your cat is looking at you with relaxed, soft, or almond eyes this is a good indication that they feel comfortable in your company.

“Slow blinking is also a sign your cat is fond of you, 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 slow blinks at them. If you want to show them you return their trust, mimic their slow blink back to them.”

3. Tail up greeting

“You can tell a lot about how a cat is feeling by looking at their tail position and movements,” she said. “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.

4. Social roll and showing their tummy

“A popular misconception is that when a cat shows you their tummy, they want it rubbed. 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!”

5. Allogrooming

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.”