Any communication manual will tell you that the communication process requires a few key elements without which it would irremediably fail. These elements are: the sender, the receiver and the message. But more than these three, what ensures the success of the act is adjusting the content of the message and its form of presentation to the ability to perceive, the capacity to understand and the emotions of the receiver. In other words, the receiver of the message is the one who sets the tone of the conversation.
Many times, when talking to our cats, we don’t show enough appreciation for the fact that they are a crucial element of the conversation. Our affection, even though it is sometimes conveyed in an instinctive manner, is usually meant to give us a sense of satisfaction, rather than to actually reach our pet’s heart. In an effort to try and learn a few methods to really tell our cat about our feelings, we must first understand her ways of communicating.
Whether you’ve had your cat for a long time or you are new to living with a kitty, there are a few gestures all cats make almost on a daily basis.
Hitting her head/rubbing her body against you
This behaviour has been considered for a long time to be a way in which your cat shares her scent and appropriates you. Due to their pheromones secreting glands on their cheeks and forehead, but also next to their tails and paws, cats are able to leave their mark on the objects they consider to be of their own. Cats usually do this with their mother and siblings, or other cats that they consider family.
Marking you as their territory is not just the gesture of a conqueror taking possession. By rubbing on your body, the cat also takes some of your scent on her. It is an intimate moment of sharing your personal marks.
To respond to this proof of love you just have to stand still and accept her strokes, while petting her gently. If she doesn’t initiate, you can always lean your forehead towards her, and she’ll immediately get the message. It will also tell her you are on the same page and you also want to be part of her family, as well as her to be part of yours.
Moreover, petting her in these distinct areas gives her more pleasure than the rest of her body, as you stimulate the release of the pheromones. Gentle strokes or scratching on head, behind her ears or on her lower back, right above the tail will offer your cat great satisfaction.
The lazy wink
In the wild, where our beloved felines first came from, any second of relaxation could end up in disaster. Predators awaited patiently for their victim to feel confident and safe enough to stop paying attention to their surroundings and juuuust blink! Also, precious prey that the cat had spent hours tracking could escape in the blink of an eye.
A cat slowly blinking or winking at you is displaying that same confidence and relaxation feeling that tells you she feels safe and content. There is a great similarity between a cat’s display of affection by unfolding her vulnerability and the human way of making friends by revealing a secret, for example, that makes them just as vulnerable.
In the spirit of this similarity, you can return the blink. Not only will you be responding to her initiative, but most importantly you’ll be letting her know you also feel safe and are not going to attack her. Otherwise, be careful not to stare too much into her eyes, or you are risking to spoil this tender communication act, as you will send the wrong message. Staring directly into a cat’s eye is a declaration of war, and even though your lazy, fluffy, indoor cat doesn’t seem to share too many characteristics with her warrior wild sisters, her instincts are never really gone.
The Tall Tail heart
Certainly you must have noticed until now your cat likes to greet you and the other family members with her tail raised straight up. This behavior is noticeable both with humans and other cats or animal friends. In cat language, greeting someone with this signal means the cat is happy to see them and they are allowed to enter her territory.
Be careful, though, not to mistake a tail raised in hostility to a friendly “Welcome!”. A puffed tail always says the cat is angry or restless. An experiment demonstrated the subtle difference between a cat tail raised at a right angle and one raised obliquely: figures of cats with both these positions were glued to the wall of a room, and different cats were then introduced in. All the real cats approached the figures that had the tail raised straight up and avoided the other ones.
Of course, when it comes to responding to this way of welcoming someone, a human just doesn’t have what it takes to mirror the behavior. Therefore, a simple stroke on the cat’s head will suffice as a greeting gesture from your part.
Too much love can be scary
Have you ever strolled relaxed through the apartment just to have your heart jump out of your chest when laying eyes on the unexpected dead guest in the middle of the living room? Or maybe you were trying to put on a pair of slippers to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and felt the horrible cold feathers on your foot as you were waking up the whole house with your screaming?
Dead animals are the ultimate proof your cat loves you. She has taken the time and put in the effort to hunt and has brought the prey back to her family to show them her affection and support. Derived from the parental process of hunting to feed their cubs, these unique gifts might even mean that cats see us as big, sloppy cats who can’t hunt on their own and need to be fed. On a more realistic note, dead animals and other gifts we are showered with by our felines are the continuity of their natural behaviour.
How to keep loving your cat and show them that after such a surprise? Take into consideration what that “gift” represents for your cat. She doesn’t see it as a potential source of disease, nor does she consider herself a cold-blooded murderer. For any cat, prey is the source of life, the very base of survival, and she could only give that to those she loves the most.
So as a token of appreciation, even though you really want to, do not scream at your cat or show her you are upset. It will only confuse her, but it won’t stop her from trying to comfort you from time to time with these exquisite treats.
Clawing their way into your heart
That is another method Behemoth’s* relatives often use to show us we are the object of their love. While a cat will also knead on soft, fluffy surfaces such as blankets, pillows or even another cat’s fur, we’re much more inclined to notice this behaviour when we feel the power of love ourselves, having their claws deep inside our epiderma.
There are three main explanations for this behavior. The first one relates to nursing kittens that knead to stimulate their momma’s mammary glands. The conclusion would be that the adult cat that’s kneading is displaying the same feeling of comfort and nurture it had experienced in its mother’s care.
Another possible explanation for this action is that the cat has found a great place to lay her bed and is preparing the surface for a good nap, which can only mean you are the safest refuge she can find. Lastly, cats also do this as a response to our own petting strokes. They are answering back with what they consider to be a caressing gesture of love and confidence.
While you can’t pleasantly surprise your cat with a beautiful bouquet of roses or a weekend getaway to a lake cabin, there are still some methods to show her you care about her and her well being. The scheme is pretty much the same for everyone: if you want to show someone you love them, get them what they need to be happy.
There is an old saying that has always worked both for humans and animals: the heart goes through the stomach. Serving your cat good food and making sure she is well fed contributes to her general comfort and state of happiness. We do have to warn you, though, that a food that’s too yummy must carefully be portioned throughout the day in order to avoid overfeeding.
One of the most important of your cat’s needs is to exercise. While children love you for getting them toys because they appreciate the toy itself, cats are most happy when you are actually playing with them. It’s why sometimes all you need is a piece of thread to make her play with you for hours and be as happy as she can. Playing with your cat has two benefic results: it’s a great way to make her happy and show her interest and you cover her need of exercise.
Naturally, we were joking before about the lake cabin, but you can definitely find inspiration in that idea. A new empty box, or a cushioned drawer just for your cat would certainly make her really happy, not to mention it will ensure a safe, hidden place where she can enjoy some privacy.
Some of the cats we know become extremely talkative if given a head start. If you don’t mind it, purring from time to time on a higher pitch will set the tone for a great “conversation” between you and your cat. Talking to her in a normal voice isn’t bad, but she won’t probably understand that it’s directed towards her. But if you listen closely, you can learn the different tones your cat uses when she tries to communicate and use them when you talk to her. She won’t understand much, but you’ll be strengthening your bond.
Furballs might make up for a cute nickname, but are also an unpleasant experience for your cat. As they appear as often as fur is ingested through licking, brushing your cat’s coat with a special fur brush will alienate all that excessive hair and massage her all at once. Not only will you be helping her health, but you will also be providing her with the attention and care she deserves.
How much love can you get?
People love to rank everything in their lives. If you want to get a new bicycle, be sure the internet will offer you tens of lists with the best of the best and they will all be different from each other. The truth is the value of certain things is subjective, and this suits emotions most of all.
Having said that, there are some names that will pop up if you’re looking for the most loving cat breeds. Main Coons, Scottish Fold, Siameze, Ragdoll, these are the favorites of this particular ranking.
But as cat lovers, I’m sure you know every cat has an immense ability to love and express the affection you want to receive. With patience and love, even the most reserved feline can be taught to trust you and share her feelings.
The bottom line
When it comes to expressing your affection towards your cat, the most important thing is to adopt the appropriate language. That is something that can only be done if you first learn how to tell a cat loves you and how she manifests that love.
They say that practice makes perfect, so the best way to learn this special language is to try and “speak” it as often as you can. It won’t be long before you will feel the bond with your cat has gained strength.