family & Pets


10 ways your pet is trying to say “I love you”

10 ways your pet is trying to say “I love you”

Our pets have their own special way of communicating their affection towards us – can you spot the signs that your special friend is wild about you? From dogs and cats to birds and guinea pigs, we’ve got so much pet love happening.

1. Your dog gives you puppy eyes

You know how when you’re just chilling on the couch, watching Netflix, and your dog rests his head on your lap, gazing deeply into your eyes? That’s pup-speak for “I love you, human!”

“Just like humans, dogs use face and body language to communicate,” says Whitney Miller, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Director of Veterinary Medicine for Petco. “Long intense eye contact from your dog is a way of showing they trust you and show affection towards you.” However, that doesn't hold true for EVERY dog.

2. Your cat gives you the slowest blink

“For cats, slowly blinking is a gesture of acceptance and comfort. Cats do this with other cats because in the feline world, closing one’s eyes in front of another is a sign of trust,” Dr Miller explains. But wait, don’t stop there! You can return the compliment, telling your cat how much you love him too, by blinking slowly right back

3. Your guinea pig sings

“Guinea pigs are very vocal and will emit all kinds of squeaks, squeals, and even a few purr-like noises to show their affection,” Dr Miller says. It may even sound like they’re singing so consider it your own personal love song (and feel free to sing one back!), she adds.

4. Your bird shakes its tail feathers

It’s not just dogs that wag their bottoms when they’re happy! “A bird’s tail feathers, like other pets’ tails, are also used as a method to communicate in the wild,” Dr Miller says. “Like a dog, a bird may fan out their feathers or wag their tail to tell you that they are glad to see you.”

5. Your cat rubs its chin on you

OK, so technically when cats rub their faces and chins on something it’s their way of marking their territory, says Gary Weitzman, DVM and author of National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness. But don’t rule it out as a declaration of love! “Declaring ownership of you is a very feline way to say ‘I love you’”.

6. Your dog follows you to the bathroom

It can be annoying to have your furry friend always under your feet but following you around – even when you’re just getting a drink or using the bathroom – is a sign of devotion and affection, Dr Weitzman says. “Wherever you are, your dog wants to be, and they wouldn’t want to spend all their time with you if they didn’t love you!” he says.

7. Your bird just tells you

Parrots and other smart birds are notorious for mimicking human speech but they’re not just “parroting” back what they’ve heard, they can understand the emotion behind the sentiment too, Dr Miller says. “Certain birds may mimic happy or loving noises they hear from their pet parents, and some are even smart enough to say, ‘I love you,’” she says.

8. Your rabbit comes when you call

Sure, dogs are great at coming when you call their name, and cats are too (when they want to be). But did you know that rabbits can also learn to respond to your calls? “Rabbits learn their people’s habits and voices and will come running when their favourite people are around,” Char says.

9. Your cat meows just for you

Cats have about 16 different meows to communicate different things, Dr Weitzman says. However, adult cats only vocalise to humans – kittens meow to their mother, but they grow out of it, he explains. “This means that when your cat meows, it is solely to communicate with you and it is a big sign that they really do love you, even if they don’t always show it!” he says.

10. Your guinea pig whistles at you

No, you’re not being cat-called by your furry friend! Guinea pigs have a signature whistle they make, often to welcome you home or to show happiness, says Johanna Reel, a registered veterinary technician with NHV Natural Pet Products. “Though they are small, guinea pigs can show their people a lot of love,” she says. “When guinea pigs are happy, they chirp, squeal and whistle. Though their way of showing their love was a bit different than my cats or dogs, it always put a smile on my face. I miss their little welcome whistles now that they’re gone.”

Written by Charlotte Hilton Anderson. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.