My cats are my world and I cannot imagine life without them, especially during tough times. You can probably relate to the feeling of unconditional love for your cat and the desire to smother him or her in hugs and kisses, but it can be hard to tell whether or not that love is returned. So how can you make a cat love you?
In this article, we’ll explore how our cats perceive us and our home, as well as how they demonstrate devotion. We will help you to maximise the human-cat relationship and help to make your cat love you even more.
For those who have not spent much time around cats or consider themselves ‘dog people’, these tips will help build confidence and teach you invaluable knowledge about cats.
How to Make a Cat Love You
Most people think cats are mysterious and complex, however once you appreciate them and gain their trust, they will be devoted to you forever. Some will even follow you endlessly around the home while others may bring you ‘gifts’ and shower you with cat cuddles.
Here are a few ways to make a cat love you.
Inspire positive and caring human-cat interactions.
Have you noticed that people who dislike or are allergic to cats are often the ones cats are most attracted to? It’s simply because they do not seem like a threat.
Cats are solitary beings who like to be in control. Consider the “less is more” approach, allowing him or her to take charge of social interactions with you and family members.
Provide positive, consistent, and predictable human-cat social interaction at all times.
Stay calm and confident, avoid sudden movements, and avoid any aggressive behaviours.
Our feline companions can sense anxiety or frustration and may run and hide if they feel intimidated. Do not follow or retrieve them from their hiding spot. Respect their privacy.
- Avoid staring at your cat’s eyes and coming straight towards him or her. Instead, blink slowly and wait for him or her to blink back and approach you.
- When greeted, get down to a cat’s level, gently offer a relaxed finger to sniff, and allow the cat to push their head towards you. This action mimics familiar cats who engage in nose-to-nose sniffing.
- While handling, avoid leaning or reaching over your cat as much as possible, use the sideways approach and avert your gaze (evades the cat feeling threatened). Cats generally prefer low intensity and high-frequency handling. Respect their wishes and body language.
- If your cat is hesitant to come towards you, gently toss a treat nearby to help them associate your presence with a positive interaction.
Encourage expression of natural predatory behaviour.
Inspire your cat to exercise and express their normal predatory behaviours (stalk, pounce, capture, reward) using play. Try motion sensor and interactive toys, Nina Ottosson Treat Puzzle Games, snuffle mats, Da Purr Peller, imaginative vertical towers, and cardboard castles.
Stimulate foraging by concealing food in different spots. It is more natural for cats to scavenge and eat small meals from multiple locations, aiding mental and physical stimulation.
Naturally, cats have tendencies to explore, forage, climb, hunt, and patrol territories. Fenced cat-friendly gardens, harness and leash walks, and portable enclosures are all environments suitable for such behaviors.
Most cats tend to avoid boundless spaces, which can leave them feeling visible and vulnerable. However, confident, adventuresome cats may enjoy outdoor hiking journeys.
Teach a new trick.
Your individual cat can be trained to perform many tricks which can help reduce fear, anxiety, and frustration. Training also reinforces the human-animal bond. Unlike dogs, cats will not take kindly to coercion or petting as a reward. Some cats are food-driven or toy-motivated and can be clicker or target trained.
Once you figure out their most desirable treat or incentive, start with short sessions lasting a few minutes each day. Recent research suggests that teaching cats simple tasks such as giving a paw, sitting, or high-five may be an effective way to reduce frustration in rescue homes and indoor cats.
How do you know your cat loves you?
Cats are unique and demonstrate love in special ways. Here are some of the signs that your cat loves you.
Facial Rubbing or Head Bunting
Facial rubbing or head bunting on your hand, head, or other parts of the human body conveys a relaxed affectionate cat. Head bunting also expresses trust, willingness to interact, and possession. When your cat rubs or bunts you with their face, they release pheromones through scent glands, marking you as part of their community and home.
Feline Words of Affection
Did you know that cats have one of the widest ‘vocabularies’ (various forms of vocalisation) of any carnivorous species? Researchers identified at least 19 different variations of the ‘miaow’ that differ in tone, volume, intonation, pitch, and the situation it is used in.
While we’re not sure exactly what our cats’ vocalizations mean, it appears that some of them indicate friendliness and comfort.
- Generally, miaow sounds are used to communicate friendly interactions with other cats and humans.
- The purr is predominantly used by kittens when suckling and in other situations between cats where positive social interaction is taking place. In adult cats, purring can communicate both happiness or pain. If your cat is purring while you are stroking him or her, there is a high chance he is content.
- The chirrup is a greeting sound used between friendly, acquainted cats when they meet each other after a period of absence. It’s also common when cat parents enter the home.
Talking to your cat in a soft and reassuring voice will relax and keep them at ease while daily observation and attentive listening will turn him or her into your best friend.
A feline tail does more than provide balance and act as a rudder. Like dogs, cats use their tails to communicate their emotions and moods.
- An elevated tail held vertically is used as a greeting between cats and often leads to mutual rubbing (allorubbing). Normally vertical tail held up is a sign of friendliness and affection.
- A tail looking bent in a question mark expresses a playful mood,
- Friendship is demonstrated by tail-entwining around your legs and arms.
Watching his or her tail is an excellent way to help understand your cat. However, it’s also important to remember to observe the tail movements alongside the entire body language (eyes, ears, posture).
Do not be disheartened if your cat is not a lap cat.
Many long-haired breeds and certain semi-long hair felines overheat when sitting on our laps. Instead of being saddened that your cat doesn’t sit on your lap, feel complimented when he or she shares the couch with you.
Handle negative reactions by watching early warning body language signs, aggressive sounds, and stepping away will help build trust and develop a positive relationship.
As the human-cat relationship evolves, life becomes harder, and people become more isolated, we turn towards our cats for comfort and the bond may become more complicated. It is important not to burden our cats with our emotions and allow them to be cats.
Each cat and its owner cultivate a distinctive language and connection that they both understand but is not shared by others.
By getting to know our individual cats’ likes and dislikes, then allowing them to determine the quality and quantity of interaction, may be the key to getting the relationship perfect.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you bond with your cat?
Learn as much as possible about cats as a species, observe their body language and behaviour, then interpret it based on the feline perspective.
Socialisation time and physical contact through play and exercise increases the human-animal bond.
Offer your cat hiding space and food rewards. Encourage positive behaviour at all times.
Ensure there are sufficient resources within your home in adequate quantities and positioned in diverse locations. Cats who enjoy regular, slow, gentle brushing and contact may enjoy massage. Massage the coat by stroking it along the fibres of the hair. Massage strengthens the immune system, relieves stress, transmits the psychological benefits of touch to your cat, improves emotional wellbeing and overtime can lead to reduction in muscle soreness, pain and increase your friendship.
Cherish your cat’s need to become familiar with new places, situations, and people on their terms and on their own time.
Do cats feel love when you kiss them?
Cats are emotionally sensitive; they feel pleasure, fear, and frustration like people. Most likely they sense love through touch and generally tolerate kissing on top of their head but will not like being kissed on the mouth. Cats sniff, touch, and groom each other but not in the traditional human sense.
Lots of cats lick their owners regularly and according to scientists, the probable explanation is the cat trying to convey something to its owner about their relationship (most likely affection).
Kissing is a human way of displaying affection. It is essential we do not anthropomorphise by attributing human traits and emotions to our cats – learning to love our cat differently is similarly rewarding!
Bradshaw, J. (2013, September 14). More than a feline. (N. Scientist, Compiler) UK. Retrieved May 27, 2020
Care, I. C. (2018, October 05). Cat Communication. Retrieved May 25, 2020, from International Cat Care: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-communication/
Care, I. C. (2019, February). Cat friendly gardens. (I. C. Care, Compiler) UK. Retrieved May 28, 2020
Halls, V. (2011). Furry babies or felines – do we really know our cats? Retrieved May 22, 2020, from Vicky Halls: http://www.vickyhalls.net/guides/The%20Cat%20Winter%202011%20-%20Furry%20babies%20or%20felines.pdf
Halls, V. (2012). Cats and people – Getting the Relationship Right. UK. Retrieved May 26, 2020
About the author
Melina’s love of animals began in childhood, when she would care for sick or stray dogs and cats while dreaming of becoming a Vet. While working in the Veterinary field she found a distinct interest and passion in Small Animal Rehabilitation and Feline Behaviour. Melina is the proud director of Pet Nurture in Sydney, Australia (Unique Mobile Animal Wellness Centre specialising in Cats). Melina is currently studying to become a qualified Veterinary Nurse with a view to progressing to Animal Behaviour Therapy. She also gives her time and expertise to several animal rescues and is also the founder and admin of the newly created Facebook group: Feline Courses, Seminars, Webinars & Events