Signs of Affection or Respect in Cats

Soft eye contact indicates respect.
Soft eye contact indicates respect. (Image: Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Cats communicate in subtle yet complex ways; combinations of movements and sounds demonstrate different moods. Specific feline behaviors communicate affection and respect. Learn to interpret your cat's body language and vocalizations to deepen your understanding of one another and enjoy a fulfilling relationship.

Watch the Eyes

Cats use their eyes as a primary source of communication. Soft, direct eye contact (as opposed to an intense stare) indicates respect, and slanted eyes show contentment. When a cat looks at you with half-opened eyes, she is pleased with what she sees. If she slowly blinks or flutters her eyelids gently, she is communicating affection and trust.

Notice the Touch

A cat bunts his head against you or rubs his head and face on you to indicate affection. When your cat bumps or wipes against you, he is secreting a scent to mark you as one of his. This type of scent-marking is an affectionate gesture. Furthermore, cats groom their humans to display affection. Licking and soft nipping indicate a close kinship.

Observe the Tail

Cats use their tails to convey moods. If your cat greets you with her tail held high in the air, she is showing friendliness. If her tail is quivering slightly, it indicates affection and happiness to see you. Conversely, if your cat's tail is upright and bristling, she is angry or annoyed. A tail positioned lower to the ground indicates respect and her acceptance of your dominance. A cat displays submission by thumping her tail to and fro.

Read the Body Language

Subtle body movements from a cat's head to his tail are used to communicate. When a cat rolls over to expose his stomach, it's a sign of respect and trust. If a cat curls up in your lap, it signals affection and belonging. A cat's body may quiver to display fondness. As you stroke your cat, if his ears flatten to his head as he purrs, it indicates trust and contentment. Kneading with his paws signals affection.

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