The author is a lecturer in animal behavior and welfare at the University of Bristol, England.

Even the most dedicated cat owners wonder at some point, perhaps waking up sweaty in the middle of the night, if their cat really loves them. Those who prefer dogs claim that these animals have long been man’s best friends.

However, research shows that cats’ reputation for coldness and restraint is undeserved.

Due to their evolutionary history, domestic cats are by nature more independent than dogs. Their wild ancestors did not live in groups like canines do. However, during the domestication process, cats developed the ability to establish social relationships not only with other cats, but also with humans.

Although they don’t depend on people for security like dogs do, many cats show affection towards their keepers and seem to enjoy their company. Their attachment to humans is partly influenced by their experiences as kittens.

Cats behave towards humans in the same way they behave towards their feline friends. Therefore, to know if your animal feels connected to you, it is enough to observe its behavior.

1. A question about smells

The ability to communicate with other cats over long distances and when they are not physically present was a boon to their wild ancestors. Cats have retained this “super sense” and often use this form of communication.

Cats especially use smell to identify members of their social group or their family with whom they share the same odor profile. Cats have scent glands on their sides, head and around their ears, and they often rub their heads against familiar and comforting people and objects.

Does your cat rub its head or flank against your legs? The feeling of softness against your calves is a sign that your cat considers you a friend, and that’s a huge compliment.

2. How does he welcome you?

The way your cat greets you is one of the most obvious signs of affection for you. When cats meet members of their social group, they emit signals that show their friendship and desire to get closer. They do the same with humans.

If a cat comes towards you with its tail raised, it is a good sign.

A raised tail indicates friendly intent (the feline response to a wave), showing familiarity, trust and affection. Some cats position their tail in the shape of a question mark to greet someone they like or to indicate they want to play.

Cats sometimes intertwine their tails as a sign of friendship, and the human equivalent of this practice is wrapping your tail around your calf.

Rolling onto its back and exposing its vulnerable belly is another gesture that shows a cat has absolute trust in you. However, cats prefer to be patted on the head and neck. So in this position the cat generally does not want its belly rubbed. Attempting to stroke a cat’s belly will often result in a hasty tuck or even scratching.

The chirping or cooing is a melodious sound that cats make when they say hello to their favorite humans. So if your cat greets you in this way, you should know that he is happy to see you.

When your cat hits you on the back of the knee, it can also be a sign that he feels an extremely strong bond with you. A feline version of the “head there,” the headbutt is usually reserved for the closest feline friends and the people they trust the most.

3. Blinking

Your cat can secretly signal his affection for you by the way he looks at you. When cats meet unfamiliar people or cats, they usually greet them with open eyes. But they are more likely to blink slowly in front of cats they have a good relationship with.

According to several studies, slow blinking is associated with a positive emotional state and can be a sign of confidence, contentment and affection, just like a smile in humans. If you want to return the compliment, wink and your cat may respond in kind. It’s a great way to bond with cats who don’t like to be touched.

4. Votes

Cats are very protective of their personal space and do not like intruders invading it. If a cat lets you get close to it, it’s likely a sign of a close bond, especially when the contact is frequent or prolonged.

When a cat sits on your lap and sleeps, it really trusts you.

Grooming is only done between cats in a warm relationship, so licking your hand or face can show affection, even if their tongue isn’t the sweetest.