Ways That Your Cat Expresses Happiness

Caitlin Dempsey


A gray tabby sitting in the lap of a person wearing a burnt red sweater.

Cats express their fondness and comfort with humans in a variety of ways. Look for these signs in your cat to know how much they love you.

Your Cat Frequently Purrs

The most common way that cats show that they like you is by purring. They express their happiness that way.

You might have noticed that they have a tiny motor within them that gets started when they feel happy or comfortable. You will hear this vibrating or rumbling sound while you start petting your cat.

Purring, on the other hand, can also mean that your cat is upset, but this is less likely. A contented cat that is purring will also have a relaxed body, ears that are upright, and may also start kneading.

Rocking and Rolling

You will see your cat rocking and rolling just like human children. They roll on the ground and this means they are enthralled to see you.

You may also find them running around you. This is a lovely way of showing that they love you. This also a way in which they get your attention.

They also tend to show their belly if they are comfortable around you.

A black cat lying on a desk with her feet touching a black keyboard.
Cats will show affection by rolling around near you. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Your cat will groom you

If your cat is fond of you then grooming is something you can expect from them. Your will lick you as sign of affection and bonding.

Although researchers don’t quite understand why cats will groom humans, one theory is that grooming is a sign of a cat’s trust in that person.

Play Bites

Biting is one way kittens show their love for each other. The same can happen to you and usually the cat doesn’t apply pressure so it doesn’t hurt. Cats tend to learn bite inhibition from their mothers.

If your cat’s play bites do hurt, this may be something called petting aggression. If that happens, don’t punish your cat as their reaction is a reflex and you will only confuse them. Instead, watch for signs in your cat’s body language that they are getting irritated and make sure you stop whatever petting or playing you are doing.

You can divert your cat’s attention with a toy to also get them to stop play biting.

Your cat will rub against you

If your cat loves to rub their head and body against you, consider yourself marked and loved. Head bunting is when your cat rubs scent glands located above the eye on you. The act shows that the cat feels affection towards you and wants you to smell “better” by covering you in cat pheromones.

Your cat also has glands in their jowls so rubbing against your skin with their cheeks is another way that cats will show you affection and transfer their scent to you.

Your cat brings you gifts

If your cat has ever brought you one of their toys, you have been the recipient of your cat’s affection towards you. Cats might bring you toys to show you that they want to play with you.

A black cat sitting in front of a crinkly toy.
Your cat may bring you a toy to show you that they want to play with you. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

If your cat is allowed outside to roam, your cat might bring you back prey they have caught. Mother cats will bring back prey to their kittens as a way to show them how to hunt. Some researchers believe the cat is trying to also teach you how to hunt. (Related: Can More Play and Meat Reduce Your Cat’s Hunting?)

Your cat loves to sit on or near you

When your cat loves you, she will come to you, play with you and also rub her cheeks at times.

Cats sleep more than 15 hours a day and for them to sleep, it should be a place where they trust the most. The places cats sleep are generally the safest and secure. Take it as a compliment, if your cat chooses your lap as his sleeping spot.

Even when they are awake, cats show that they trust and love you by sitting near you.

An orange tabby lying next to the torso of a person wear a striped black and gray top.
Cats will show their affection by lying on or near you. The relaxed posture, half closed eyes, and exposed belly of this orange tabby cat are further signs he is comfortable with the human he is lying next to. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Your cat slow blinks at you

If your cat is in love with you, then you can see it in her eyes. If you see your cat’s eyes wide open when she is near you and passes on a small blink when you’re across the room. The small blink of the eye that your cat exchanges with you is known as a “cat kiss”.

Slow blink back at your cat to return their message of affection.

Your cat’s tail is upright

If you have owned a cat for quite some time, you might have noticed the tail standing upright. An upright tail in a cat is a sign that the cat feels comfortable and happy.

If your cat runs towards you with an upright tail, the cat is communicating to you that they are happy and comfortable with your presence.

Your cat meows to you

A cat meowing is a sign that the cat sees you as their caregiver.

Adults cats never meow to other cats. A cat will only meow to their mother when they are kitten for the same reason cats will meow to you — for food and care.

Respond to your cat

When you see or experience your cat showing any signs of affection, make sure to respond. Talk to your cat in soothing tones, offer them a nice petting session, and play with your cat regularly. All of these help to strengthen the bond your cat has with you.

A gray tabby sitting in the lap of a person wearing a burnt red sweater.
A relaxed and happy cat sitting in the lap of a person. The closed eyes and relaxed paws indicate that the gray tabby cat is comfortable. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.


Ling, T. (2021, May 7). Why do cats lick people? BBC Science Focus Magazine. https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/why-do-cats-lick-people/

PetMD Editorial. (2016, April 8). Why do cats bump heads? PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/cat-head-butting-what-does-it-mean

Sung, W. (2019, May 23). Why do cats bring gifts to their owners?  PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/news/view/why-do-cats-bring-gifts-their-owners-38127


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.