Does Your cat ‘Love’ you? RSPCA Cat Behaviour Expert Sets the Record Straight

Forget Valentines, celebrate Pal-entine’s with your affectionate feline friend!

St. Valentine’s Day might make the perfect romantic occasion for some, but for those who aren’t loved up it can be a bit of a drag. This year, the RSPCA are encouraging cat owners to celebrate Pal-entines with their affectionate pet pal instead.

Pets are complex and without being able to ask them, it’s sometimes hard to tell how they really feel. But just in time for February 14,  RSPCA cat behaviour expert, Samantha Watson, has shed a little light on the mystery and revealed five ways cats show affection for their owners.

Samantha, scientific officer at the RSPCA said: “There are a number of ways our cats tell us that they enjoy our company and feel safe with us. Learning to read your cat’s body language is hugely beneficial as not only can it show you how they feel about you, but it will enable you to spot signs of stress and understand when they want to be left alone.

“Cats are often thought of as being a bit aloof, but they do give away some subtle body language cues that show how much they like you. Humans are always keen to feel their pets adore them, but it is important to remember that every cat is an individual, and sadly not all cats will want to interact with you.”

According to Samantha, the top five ways to tell if your cat enjoys your company.

  1. Headbutts

“Whenever a cat rubs their head or cheek against you, they are actually transferring some of their own scent onto you and marking you as a trusted friend rather than foe” said Samantha.

“By marking you with their scent they are effectively recognising you as part of their social group. Scent is one of the most important senses to a cat, and mixing their scent with yours is a key part of bonding.”

  1. Eye contact and slow blinking

“For cats and many other animals, eye contact can be something very threatening, so if your cat is looking at you with relaxed, soft, or almond eyes this is a good indication that they feel comfortable in your company” said Samantha.

“Slow blinking is also a sign your cat is fond of you, that they trust you and don’t feel the need to be on guard in your company. Researchers have found that cats are more likely to approach a person who slow blinks at them. If you want to show them you return their trust, mimic their slow blink back to them.”

  1. Tail up greeting

“You can tell a lot about how a cat is feeling by looking at their tail position and movements. A low swishing tail can indicate they are feeling stressed or unhappy, but a tail pointing upwards with a downward curve at the tip is a sign they are really happy to see you.

“They might even approach you with a short ‘peeping’ or ‘trilling’ sound which is also a sign they are pleased to greet you.”

  1. Social roll and showing their tummy

“A popular misconception is that when a cat shows you their tummy, they want it rubbed. Stomachs are a very vulnerable area for a cat, and most cats don’t like to be touched there,” adds Samantha.

“When a cat rolls over to show you their belly, they are greeting you and testing out whether they can trust you. A good response is to give them a head rub and show them their trust has been well placed. Don’t be surprised if you get a scratch or a nip in response to stroking their belly!”

  1. Allogrooming

Samantha said: “Cats lick or groom other cats in their social group to both create a bond and to create a group odour. This scent helps cats to tell who is part of their social group. If your cat licks you, it’s a pretty safe sign that they are trying to bond with you. However, owners should be aware of excessive licking, which can be a sign there is something wrong.”

But what about those cats not in their special fur-ever home this Pal-entines Day?

Whilst some cats are lucky enough to have a loving home, others have been waiting a long time to find their forever home. There’s plenty of cats in RSPCA care who are hoping their perfect family will come forward and spread the love this Pal-entine’s Day, including:

12-year-old Tinkerbelle is waiting at RSPCA Canterbury & District Animal Centre for her purrrfect family. She has been overlooked for almost 500 days, whilst her feline companions have all found new homes. Tinkerbell is a low maintenance and very loyal cat, who has a very sweet and affectionate nature and would enjoy a quiet environment. Through no fault of her own, poor Tinkerbell has had to be rehomed a few times, and now she is struggling to find a forever home. Tinkerbell is very clean, doesn’t  scratch furniture and has shown no signs of wanting to hunt. Could you be Tinkerbell’s Pal-entine?

A year ago poor Midnight was in bad shape, but – after having her life turned around by the RSPCA –  she’s ready to be rehomed. When Midnight arrived at the RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Sutton District Branch in February last year, she was underweight and very poorly. The brave girl has clawed her way back to health, and would make a great pet pal for someone who is experienced in dealing with diabetes. Midnight is a gentle cat with a lovely, chirpy nature. She’s very chatty and full of energy, she just needs someone to give her a loving home.

Mother and daughter duo, Flic and Fifi came into RSPCA care after their owners were unable to take care of them. Fifi is very relaxed and loves a fuss and Flic is a little more outgoing. Both cats have been at Llys Nini Animal Centre in Swansea for over a year. They need to be rehomed together and ideally in a rural area. Could you be their Pal-entine and offer them a loving new home?

Frosty might look like a tough guy, but he truly is the sweetest boy who loves nothing more than having lots of gentle strokes and fuss. Frosty has a sweet purr and enjoys close human company. This lovely chap is waiting at RSPCA Findon, Golders Green, Hendon & District branch for his paw-fect home.  After living as a stray, this lovely boy is now looking for a calm, loving home, where he has space to play and explore. He has an inquisitive nature and enjoys spending his time investigating the new smells, sounds and sights around him.

To find out more about how to give a cat in need a forever home, visit the RSPCA website.

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