Can Cats Fall In Love?

And does your cat really love you? 🥺😻

cat with hearts

You love your cat so much that you may have wondered if your cat loves you back — and what love even means to a cat. Can cats fall in love with their owners? Or with other cats? Or even with dogs?

While cats can definitely feel affection and love, they probably don’t fall in love the way that humans do — at least not in the romantic sense.

The Dodo spoke to LeeAnna Buis, a certified feline training and behavior consultant with Feline Behavior Solutions, to find out if cats can fall in love and how to know if your cat loves you.

Do cats fall in love?

Your cat can definitely feel attached to you and even love you, but he probably isn’t “in love” with you the way that humans define the emotion.

“It’s unlikely they experience the deep sensation of ‘falling in love’ in the same way humans do. But they can certainly feel a very strong attachment or bond,” Buis told The Dodo.

The ideas of “falling in love” and romantic love are human concepts. So while cats can experience many feelings, romantic love probably isn’t one of them.

Do cats feel love?

While cats might not fall in love the way we think of it, they do feel strong attachment, bonds and attraction.

Do cats love their owners?

Cats definitely feel a strong bond with their owners.

“Studies show, and we’ve all seen, how our presence can calm our cats in times of stress and how our absence can actually increase their stress,” Buis said. “The same can be seen with the presence of another animal they’ve bonded with. It may depend on how you define ‘love.’ But these responses demonstrate an important connection I like to think of as love.”

Some cats even get separation anxiety when their owners leave — so if your cat is acting up by scratching the couch and missing the litter box while you’re away, that could be a sign that he loves you (and wants you to come home ASAP).

Do cats love other cats?

Cats can feel physical attraction. When two cats are in heat, their hormones and pheromones cause them to be attracted to each other so they feel compelled to reproduce. (Which is why if you have a cat, you should get him or her neutered or spayed to avoid any unexpected litters!)

But cats don’t typically bond after mating — in many cases, they might never see each other again — so it’s not the same as falling in love in the human sense (which is physical attraction combined with an emotional bond).

However, your cat can absolutely form a strong emotional bond with another cat, and they can even become BFFs — which you probably already know if you have two cats who spend all their time together. Bonded cats sleep and play together and groom each other. They can experience less stress as well because of their positive interactions with each other and because they have a playmate when their owner leaves the house.

Do cats love toys, food, etc.?

The same way that you “love” your favorite TV show, your cat can “love” or feel a strong affection for his favorite chew toy.

“Looking at love in the more casual sense, as an intense interest or pleasure, there’s no reason to think your cat can’t love all kinds of things — you, the dog they grew up with, a favorite toy or sleeping spot,” Buis said.

How do you know if your cat loves you?

Cats can be a little less obvious with their affection than dogs, but that doesn’t mean they love you any less!

“Cats show their affection for humans in pretty much the same way they do other cats,” Buis said. “Kneading, grooming and rubbing those friendly pheromones all over the object of their affection, like you at 3 a.m. when you’re trying to sleep, are just a few ways cats express their feelings for us.”

Some ways that cats show their love are:

  • Purring — Purring is an obvious sign of affection in cats. Cats purr when they’re relaxed and comfortable. (They can sometimes purr when they’re upset, but it’s less common.)
  • Meowing — Cats don’t meow to other cats, only to people, and they typically only use vocalizations around people they like.
  • Grooming — Cats are extremely hygienic. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves and each other. If your cat licks you, that’s a sign of affection — it helps spread his scent to mark you as his.
  • Tail — A tail held up high with the end curled over means your cat is happy and playful.
  • Rolling — If a cat shows his belly to you, that means he likes you! Showing his stomach makes him vulnerable, so if your cat shows his, it means he feels comfortable with you.
  • Kneading — Cats learn to knead to get milk from their moms, and adult cats continue this when they’re feeling relaxed and happy.
  • Head butts — If your cat is butting his head against you, he’s trying to leave his scent on you to mark you as his territory.
  • Slow-blinking — Cats slow-blink when they’re feeling content and relaxed. So if your cat is slow-blinking at you, you can blink back to show him you love him, too.

While cats most likely don’t “fall in love” in the romantic sense, they definitely feel love, affection and friendship. So the next time your cat is meowing and licking you all over when you’re trying to watch TV, just know it’s just because he loves you!