Some people think that cats aren’t quite as expressive as dogs, especially when it comes to letting their owners know how they feel. But the truth is that cats feel just as much affection for their humans as their canine counterparts, and they show it in incredible ways.
For instance, did you know that cats have their own vocabulary? It’s actually something every cat owner should be well-versed in. Here are 10 of the most common ways that your cat is trying to communicate with you every day. You just might be surprised once you learn what their “cat language” really means!
1. Cats knead things: There are many theories about why cats knead their paws into you and other random objects around your home. Many researchers can agree that they’re probably trying to return the affection you’re showing them.
That doesn’t mean they know how much their claws actually hurt! There are, of course, ways to get around this. For instance, try using a thick blanket as a barrier, or just get another cat.
2. Cats bring you dead animals from outside: Sure, it can be kind of gross when cats hunt and deliver dead critters right to your front door (or pillow, eek!), but they usually do it because they consider you as a part of their “pride.” There’s more!
Research suggests that, in doing this, your cat is trying to teach you how to catch your own prey. But that’s not something you should take as a compliment—they only do it because they believe you’re bad at hunting!
3. Cats rub up against you with their heads: When cats rub against you, they’re actually just marking you as one of their own using the concentrated scent glands that exist both in their cheeks and on their heads.
Many cat experts believe they do this primarily as a way to let other cats know they own you. So if you’re noticing other people’s cats steering clear of you whenever you’re around, now you know why. Paws off!
4. Cats stare blankly without blinking: A cat’s unending stare can be a little bit disconcerting at times but try not to fret. First of all, they’re not really just staring. Their eyes are evolved to blink less frequently than ours.
It’s also suggested that a steady, soft gaze from your cat means that they simply feel safe and comfortable with you. So the next time you catch your cat looking in your direction, just know that you’re doing things right!
5. Cats roll over onto their bellies: Like most other animals, cats don’t really like to feel vulnerable. So if they roll over and present their belly to you, it’s a sign of unwavering trust. This clearly means that your cat thinks highly of you.
And aside from it being the cutest, when your cat rolls over on its belly it can also mean they feel protected and loved. Since going belly-up suggests vulnerability, that means they’re basically telling you they trust you enough to protect them from harm’s way.
6. Cats lift and curl the tips of their tails: Researchers have found that the positioning of your cat’s tail is a strong indicator of their overall mood. The higher they carry it, the more content and happy they are.
When cats feel particularly affectionate, they’ve also been known to wrap their tails around their owners. So the next time that happens to you, try not to worry; they’re not attempting to wrestle you to the ground. They just want to say “I love you.”
7. Cats nibble on your fingers or clothes: You may notice that cats nip and nibble on you all the time, but it’s far from an aggressive gesture. In fact, mother cats do the same when they’re grooming their kittens.
Unfortunately, like many other signs of affection from your cat, they simply don’t realize what they’re doing could hurt you. It might be slightly painful—their teeth are sharp!—but doesn’t it make it feel better to know your cat is trying to tell you it loves you?
8. Cats rub against your legs: Much like when they rub against other parts of your body, cats will often bump into your legs with their heads. Research suggests this is done to mark you with their scent!
When you’re walking around your office or you’re in the presence of other cats, they will smell and know that you’re “taken.” So let your kitty run freely between your legs; it’ll make them feel so much better!
9. Cats purr: Have you ever wondered why your cat purrs in some moments and not in others? If you can get your cat to purr, it typically means that they’re very happy with you and with what you’re doing.
So keep on massaging your kitty under his chin! While you’re at it, you might as well scratch his back and give him plenty of treats, because he loves it—and you’re purrfect to him.
10. Cats follow you around: Sure, it may be annoying sometimes, but when your cat follows you absolutely everywhere in your home, it’s just a sign that she likes you and simply wants to be wherever you are.
A good way to determine whether this is what your kitty is doing is to test it out before and after you’ve fed her. If she still follows you after she’s eaten her meal, then you know for sure she just wants to be around you!
Many people have long wished that they could better communicate with not only their cats but dogs too. Unfortunately, it seems the closest we’ll get is watching them wag their tails to tell us when they’re happy and whining when they want something.
Tim Dawson / Flickr
While it can be frustrating that our four-legged friends can’t explicitly communicate what they’re thinking, luckily for us, there are plenty of other ways for them to tell you how they’re feeling at any given moment.
If you pay attention to the following cues, you’ll finally be able to learn how your dog is trying to communicate with you! Has your dog exhibited any of these behaviors recently?
Moheen Reeyad / Wikimedia
1. Those sad-yet-adorable puppy dog eyes mean your best friend loves you: Constant eye contact is practically the same thing as receiving a kiss from your pooch. So when you see this glance coming your way, you’re doing the right thing.
2. If your dog brings you a ball or a toy, they might not want you to throw it: In fact, that might hurt their feelings—dogs bring you their favorite things so that you can enjoy them. So get ready to play with any toys they bring your way!
3. If your pup prefers your room to her own bed or crate when she goes to sleep at night, then that’s proof you’re number one in her heart: She just wants to spend as much time with you as possible, even if that means sleeping while doing so!
4. You might not relish getting tackled when you get home from the office each night, but that’s just your dog showing you that you’re the center of his world: “Make way, I’m coming to see my best friend and I don’t care who knows it!” your dog is basically saying to you.
5. You might feel guilty when you catch your dog quietly staring at you before you leave the house, but fear not: Their calmness when they know you’re leaving is just further proof that they trust you and know you’re coming back.
6. Want to know what your dog is feeling at any given time? Just take a look at their eyes: Studies have shown dogs are more expressive with their eyes when trying to communicate with their owners. This little guy looks like he wants a treat, yeah?
7. Does your dog prefer cuddling with you after each of their meals? That’s another sign that you’re their number one friend: Just be sure not to give them any stinky food, because if you’re cuddling for the night, you’ll want it to be aroma free.
8. Have you ever noticed a dog leaning on you when you’re sitting on the couch or standing in the kitchen? Well, it turns out dogs only lean against you because they can’t physically hug you: This is the closest they can physically get. Just make sure they haven’t rolled around in paint first!
9. When your dog yawns in front of you, it means they feel safe around you: In the wild, yawning is seen as an act of submission. That just means your dog has bestowed the ultimate trust upon you.
10. A flick of the tongue? Your puppy is trying to tell you that they’re sorry for their naughtiness: See that look of innocence? They’re simultaneously hoping you’ll forgive them for what they’ve done out of the kindness of your heart… and because they’re so cute.
Daniel Fleming / Flickr
11. If your dog can’t seem to find a better place to sit than on your feet, then that’s a sign he wants to protect you: The moment you feel you need to escape the situation, they’ll feel your foot move and instantly know it’s go time.
12. A dog chewing on furniture or other objects isn’t just being a punk—she just needs more exercise and activity is all: So, if it’s been a while since you last took your dog outside, use this opportunity to go for a stroll and catch up with your pal.
13. A yawn doesn’t just mean dogs are sleeping: A yawn could also mean they are feeling anxious. It’s important to be able to read the situation. If you’re out in public, it’s a good sign they’re nervous about their surroundings.
14. Does your dog have one paw up? That means they are on the case, trying to figure something out: You’ll probably notice they also have their nose sniffing in a million different directions. Not to worry; your doggo is just playing detective.
15. If you’ve ever talked to your dog in a high-pitched voice, you’ve likely seen them cock their head to the side. Now many animal behaviorists believe they have an answer: Your dog is trying to not only make sense of what you’re saying, but also to pick out certain words, like “walk” or “go out.”
Da Puglet / Flickr
16. Howling just feels good: Some people’s dogs have a tendency to howl. While it’s been assumed that, like wolves, dogs do it to assert their rank and communicate, some behaviorists believe they’re howling because it feels good to let loose!
Found Animals Foundation / Flickr
17. They circle before lying down thanks to their ancestors: Have you ever noticed your dog walking in circles before she finally lies down? As it turns out, she might’ve adopted this bizarre ritual from her wolf ancestors, who would walk around in circles to flatten any leaves, twigs, or other debris that would otherwise be uncomfortable.
BuzzFarmers / Flickr