It’s something all cat parents have asked ourselves at least once: Do our cats really like us, or just put up with us for convenience? Here’s what I told a reader who is a first time cat mom.
Q: I have a cat for the first time, and I’m not sure if she likes me or just the bowls of food I set down. How do people know if their cat really likes them?
A: Cats are subtle. If you’re not familiar with them — or if you’re more used to a dog’s “let it all hang out” love — they may seem aloof or uncaring, but when you learn to read their signals, you may be surprised to find that your cat is fond of you indeed. Here are five ways to tell.
1. Your cat rubs her face on your legs head-butts you. Glands on the head secrete oils that cats rub onto objects and humans to claim them as their own.
2. Even if your cat doesn’t settle into a lap, choosing to sit or lie near you — maybe next to your keyboard — is a sign that she thinks you’re A-OK.
3. Humans connect by making and holding eye contact, but for a cat, that’s bold behavior. They don’t do it with other cats unless they’re ready to start a fight. With humans they know and trust, though, they will hold eye contact and give a slow blink. Try making eye contact with your cat and giving her a slow blink. She might give you one back — the feline equivalent of a kiss.
4. One signal of feline love you might not appreciate so much is delivery of a gift, such as a dead mouse or the body of a grasshopper left on your pillow. They might not seem appealing to you, but they show that your cat cares about your well-being!
5. Finally, cats purr for many reasons, but when you hear a deep, full-bodied rumble, you’ll know for sure your cat is saying “I love you.”
There’s more – including how to find a good source for a new puppy – in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.