How to Tell Your If Cat Loves You or Not

It's a fairly common assumption that cats are manipulative, cold-hearted creatures that just use us, humans, in their bid to conquer the world. But while they do love their space and their rules, the reality is that they can also be the sweetest pets in the world once you get into their heart.

Because cats are not as extroverted as dogs are, deciphering their emotions is no easy task. But there are some key behavioral cues and telltale signs you can look out for, to understand if your furbaby loves you as much as you love it.

According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, cats form attachments to their owners that are similar to those that dogs and babies form with their caregivers. In fact, over 64 percent of the cats involved in the study were "securely attached" to their owners.

Newsweek has spoken to cat behavior experts to gather insights into cat language, and how to tell if your little feline loves you.

A cat enjoying cuddles from owner
A stock image shows a cat enjoying cuddles from its owner. If you're still unsure whether your cat loves you or not, here are some telltale signs to look out for. Getty Images

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Loves You or Not?

Cats won't usually engage in cheesy displays of attention the way dogs do, but this doesn't mean they don't love their owners. Below are a few signs that your cat probably loves you in its own special way.

1. It Has Sleepy Eyes

Catrin George, animal wellbeing specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, told Newsweek that when your cat is looking at you with sleepy eyes, it's most likely communicating its love and admiration towards you.

"If you've ever noticed that your cat's eyes appear to be half closed or spotted them blinking in slow motion, this is a key sign that they are happy. When a cat does this, they are trying to communicate that they are totally content in your company and that you've earned their trust—which can often be a big deal for cats," she said.

However, George also warned not to confuse this sign with a direct stare and narrowed eyes, as this can signal anger and mean your cat is feeling both threatened and defensive. So to avoid any unnecessary injury, you should always leave your cat alone.

2. It Chooses to Be Near You

This may be an obvious one, but it is also one of the biggest telltale signs of them all, according to cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett.

She told Newsweek that a cat choosing to be near you, even if not physically touching you, is a sign that it feels comfortable around you and wants to be in your company.

3. It Brings You "Gifts"

While a cat's idea of a present is not something you'd necessarily put on your wishlist—be it a dead mouse, a frog, or a fresh bag of trash—it's because the feline feels at home with you. Most of all, it feels safe in your presence.

4. It Follows You Around

If your cat follows you around the house, or even outside if it is an outdoor cat as if it was trying to keep you in sight, it means it secretly loves and trusts you.

5. It Is Vocal Towards You, and Often Purrs

If your cat sounds as though it is trying to converse with you, it probably is, George revealed.

She said: "Interestingly, adult cats very rarely meow to fellow cats and generally only use this to communicate to their owners or strangers, but it can be tricky to understand what the different sounds actually mean.

"Typically speaking, a cat who is giving you a friendly, warm greeting can be identified by a series of short, quick and high-pitched meows, that almost sound like chatting. If your cat is making these sorts of noises, they are telling you that they are happy to be touched. Of course, the classic purring sound is also a great indicator of a happy, content kitten too."

6. It Shows You Its Derriere

This may be one of the strangest ways to show someone your love, but cats have their reasons.

In nature, felines identify each other by scent, and so sniffing one another's derrieres is the equivalent of a very personal human handshake. It's a signal that you're one of their most trusted people.

7. It Holds Its Tail High

Notice your cat's tail pointing upwards when around you or brushing past you? George explains this is a key indicator of a happy cat.

According to George, a cat's tail is a very strong indicator of how a cat is feeling and is usually quite easy to read. The ideal tail position is high and 'quivering,' as this is a sign of a cat that is pleased to see you and is enjoying your presence.

"If your cat's tail has formed a question mark, this simply means that your cat is feeling curious or is unsure of how they feel. A cat that should be left alone may swish or wag their tail angrily, so being able to read their tail movements is key to knowing when they need their space and avoiding any sharp swipes.

"And if you see the fur on your cat's tail puffed up, this is usually a sign that they are scared or feeling threatened, so it's important to ensure that they have a safe place to retreat to and you give them some space," she said.

8. It Sleeps on Its Back

Cat behavior expert Pam Johnson-Bennett told Newsweek that another sign of trust is when a cat feels safe enough to sleep on its back, exposing its belly to you.

"This is the most vulnerable area of the cat so this level of trust is a high compliment indeed. It's important though to never break this trust by attempting to pet that soft belly. Don't damage your cat's trust."

9. It Sleeps on You

Another side sign that your cat truly loves you is that it is happy to nap on your lap.

As a hunter, your cat naturally doesn't like to feel vulnerable, especially while asleep. By sleeping on you, the feline is exposing itself at its most defenseless—meaning that it must trust you.

10. It Loves to Knead You

Does your kitten often 'massage' or 'knead' you? You should recognize this as an act of affection, as long as those prodding paws are fairly gentle.

George explained: "If you're ever sat on the sofa with your cat and they begin to press their paws into your body in a gentle manner, this is their way of showing you true affection and happiness. Kneading is recognized as a source of comfort for cats as it reminds them of being nursed by their mothers.

"So although you may be left with some small scratches (as the harder they knead the happier they are), you can be assured that your kitten is content."

11. It Greets You at the Door

When your cat greets you at the door, it's likely trying to tell you how much it misses you, especially if this is followed by walking in between your legs and curling its tail around your legs.

But while this is usually its way of welcoming you home, it may also be telling you something more important, like it's ready to eat, need fresh water, or a litter box change. So you should pay attention to what your cat is trying to point to after greeting you.

12. It Rubs Against Your Leg

If your kitten is constantly trying to get closer to you by brushing itself against your leg, it is simply trying to get some affection from you.

"A behavior that is more commonly understood is when your cat brushes itself against your leg while purring. This is definitely one of the more well-known signs of a happy cat, but if you're a new cat owner you may have wondered why it is that they do this. So if they do this, be rest assured that your new fur baby is completely content," said George.

How to Get a Cat to Love You

You can gain a cat's love by showing it your love, getting the best snacks for it, making sure its litter is always fresh and clean, and snuggling and playing with it. But according to Johnson-Bennett, it's very important not to try and force anything on your cat.

She said: "Let the cat set the pace of how much interaction is wanted and always offer choice. If a cat feels they have the choice of how close to get without being restrained or forced, the trust builds, and the cat will feel comfortable coming even closer the next time."

How to Know If Your Cat Hates You

Johnson-Bennett said cues that a cat doesn't like you are mostly in its body posture. Ears in an airplane-wing position, dilated pupils, tense body posture, and, of course, vocal warnings are just some signs indicating that the cat feels threatened. The best thing you can do in that case is to give the cat more space.

"There are also subtle signs a cat may display to say no interaction is wanted, such as simply looking away or increasing the physical distance between you. Keep in mind that all these things don't necessarily mean a cat doesn't like you. It may just mean the cat feels threatened or uncomfortable. Relationships are always a work in progress."