At my house, I see how pets show love every day. If you wonder, how do I make my cat love me, it’s easy! February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day, but Valentine’s Day comes even sooner. At my house, pet love happens EVERY day. Whether you love your pet with special attention, treats and toys or lap snuggles, pet love has become a given in our pet-friendly society.
In mid-2020, we multiplied our pet-love quotient by welcoming Shadow-Pup into the house. He arrived at a time when we really had no plans for another pet and struggled with the reality of dealing with Bravo-Dawg-s cancer (sadly, he lost his battle, but his love lives on). And Karma-Kat welcomed the pup, too–but for Bravo, the added attention/distraction helped enormously as he went through scary treatment, losing a leg, dealing with pain, and more. So I’m adding another way pets show love–by showing up when you need them!
National Love Your Pet Day
How do YOU show love to your cats and dogs? Maybe you shower them with Valentine’s pet gifts. Please share in the comments — Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat have their own ideas about what’s ideal. Maybe they’ll appreciate me more if they see how others spoil…er, I mean, LOVE your pet! Just watch out for the common Valentine’s day dangers for pets. Here are some ways to increase your cat’s purrs.
But what about the pets returning the favor? Do you know how pets show love? Don’t we deserve something in return? I mean, we feed them, buy toys, open the door, mop up messes, scritch their itchy spots and rub tummies. Is that sloppy smooch or adoring kitty glance all there is?
15 Ways How Pets Show Love
There’s no doubt our cats and dogs love us back. But pets show love and affection in ways that aren’t always what humans expect. Here are 14 ways pets show love, and a little bit about why these are signs of affection.
Cat purrs can mean everything from delight to expressions of concern. A cat that purrs while snuggled in your lap expresses deep trust and love for you. Return the favor and talk back—say, “I love you!” She’ll understand the emotion, if not the exact words.
Dog howls aren’t nearly as subtle as kitty purrs but can be a canine Valentine. A howl can mean your dog is lonely. Try scheduling extra face time with your special dog, or offer puzzle toys filled with treats to show your love. It’s harder to howl when chewing something yummy.
Kitty rubbing against you leaves the cat’s scent, marking you as “owned” by them. Cats repeatedly head-bump their most favorite people. Bumping your face is the ultimate show of trust since it leaves eyes vulnerable.
Dogs lean against us. Yes, it can be pushy or awkward especially with big dogs, but it’s a way of showing and asking for love and attention. Either sit down so he can lean and love, or teach him to “sit” before you dole out the attention.
Kitties groom other cats—or humans—that they like. Licking your skin or hair, or even nibbling or sucking on your clothing spreads “family” scent and is an expression of feline love. Return the favor—petting your cat is the kitty equivalent of a love-fest of mutual grooming. Learn more about how and why cats groom here.
Dogs jump up, not to knock you down, but to give a big kiss. A dog kiss isn’t exactly the same as human kisses. Puppies lick the mom-dog’s eyes and face to show deference. Adults give doggy kisses to humans they love and respect and aim at the face. Kneel to let him kiss you (if doggy smooches don’t bother you). Or offer your hand for a sniff-and-smooch instead.
Cats scratch and pee to calm themselves down, and seek out items that smell most like their beloved human. So scratching your favorite chair or “baptizing” your bed with urine actually is a backhanded kitty compliment. Relieving stress and providing legal scratch and potty opportunities encourage kitty to love you in more appropriate ways. Keep cat claws trimmed to reduce damage. Here are tips for litter box woes.
Dogs laugh when they’re happy. Yes, it’s true–dogs have a very special way to laugh. You can sometimes prompt them to laugh by mimicking this behavior.
Puppies pee and roll on their back when owners come home—another way to show deference and declare their love and respect. Most pups outgrow the pee-party, but not the rolling over. Baring his tummy invites a friendly rub, so answer his request to show you love him, too. Here are some house training tips.
Cats knead—honestly, we’re not sure why. Kittens do it to prompt mom-cat’s milk to release. We suspect this instinctive behavior hearkens back to that feeling of comfort and joy. So a cat kneading her human certainly can be a kitty Valentine.
Dogs chew to relieve stress and calm upset feelings and also seek out owner-scented items like shoes or that Gucci handbag. Why not offer him a gift of a legal chew toy—stick it inside your shoe overnight so it has the appropriate “cologne” to really show your love! Here are more tips for your chew-aholic pooch.
Dog crotch sniffs may not seem all that loving but are the equivalent of a human handshake. Request a “sit” instead, then pay him with attention.
A kitty butt-in-your-face is an invitation to sniff—that’s a very friendly and loving gesture! (Not that you want to indulge). Scratch the base of her tail, instead.
Doggy wags that are low, loose and wide are technically a “distance-decreasing signal” that invites attention and love. Tail-less dogs wag their whole body.
Kitten tails held straight up with the end tipped overuse this to greet mom-cat, and the tippy-tail is a kitty Valentine when directed at humans—in effect calling you “mom.”
Learn more about dog and cat tail talk in this fun post.
We can’t know for sure what they think, and every pet is different. Some cats and dogs become very creative and keep us guessing! But there’s no doubt pets love us back. The best pet love gift we can give them is learning to understand them, foibles and all.
What are some other ways your dogs and cats show love? Maybe they love you by bringing owners gifts. Canines offer toys to invite play, and cats sometimes catch and deliver live presents—mousies on the pillow are a particularly attractive love gift from cats.
And to be clear, here are 8 ways we can HISS OFF our cat!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!