Explaining Your Cat's Greeting

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One of the greatest parts of pet ownership is being greeted by your furry companion the minute you walk in the door. A cat greeting is not the same as a dog greeting, and the way your cat greets people can tell a lot about how much she trusts them. Once you know the secrets behind the various greetings cats give, you can have a deeper understanding of how your cat feels about you and other people.

The Purrrfect Greeting

When a stranger comes into your home it's very likely your cat keeps her distance. You may even notice your cat greeting each person in your family differently. Cats are very independent animals and when they do make the effort to greet someone, it is because they trust that person and consider them part of their world. Cats have scent glands on their head and around their ears, and they often rub their heads against people and inanimate objects that they value. They want to rub their scent and get to know your scent, too. When a cat is first testing out whether she should trust someone, she may rub against that person's legs. Sometimes when cats start this rubbing process, strangers think the cat wants to be pet. However, if a person reaches down to pet them right away, chances are the cat will take off and hide. So, if you are lucky enough to have a cat rub against you, enjoy it for a few moments before trying to pet her.

Orange tabby kitten lying on back on a blue sofa.

The Head Holds a Hidden Message

Whether you call it head butting, head bumping or head bunting, when a cat pushes her head against her human, she's showing that they feel an extremely close bond with that human. The head bump is intimate and is saved for a cat's closest pet friends and most trusted humans. Head butting is a little different from just rubbing their head around something. It is a firm push of the head into their human or pet pal. When a cat presses her head into the head of another animal or human, that is the ultimate sign of trust and love.

The Upturned Belly

If your cat doesn't rub against your leg or never head bumps you, that doesn't mean she doesn't like you. Some cats like to lie around and, rather than exert energy to come see you, they will instead roll over and expose their belly. This doesn't mean they want you to come over and rub their belly. Instead, they're showing that they feel safe, and the exposed belly shows they're willing to leave themselves vulnerable. If your cat does this as a way to greet you, talk softly to her, but don't touch her right away. She may move and start doing some rubbing or she may blink at you.

The Secret of the Slow Blink

When cats encounter strange humans or other cats they don't know, they usually greet them with an unblinking stare. Slow blinks can be a sign of contentment and affection. You can slowly blink back at your cat and see how long the exchange lasts. This blinking can be a way to bond with your cat without touching her. This is especially important with a new cat or an older cat she may have had some bad experiences before being adopted into your loving home.

Finally, cats communicate with their tails, as well. Many cats use a question mark shaped tail to greet someone they like or to signal they want to play. A tail in the full upright position also indicates familiarity, trust, and affection.

Whether it is tail signals, slow blinks, head bumps, or just leg rubbing, cats show their affection in many ways and greet the people they trust and love with these body language quirks. Understanding these types of greetings can help you better interact with her and strengthen your bond over time.

Contributor Bio

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger

Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.

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