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The Chew: Dogs, Cats and Their Language of Love

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

It’s easy to say, “I love you” to our favorite people, but how do we communicate with our fur babies when we want to say, “I love you?” It’s easy once you learn how to translate their distinctive language of affection.


In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Brian Hare, author of “The Genius of Dogs,” said a gentle, relaxed gaze directly into your eyes is a dog’s way of hugging you. Gazing back tells your dog, “I love you, too.”

When dogs lean on us, they’re asking you to keep them safe and protected. If you lean back, it shows you trust them.

Elyse Wanshel, senior writer at, cited a study in Japan that found when dogs saw their owner, they lifted their eyebrows (especially the left). Raising your eyebrows is a sign of affection.

Being hyper-excited when you get home means, “OMG! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” When we’re just as excited, it tells them you missed them, too.

Sleeping in your room/bed means they see you as family. Allowing them to sleep with you says you acknowledge them as an important member of the family.

When your pup greets you with a stretch, he’s saying hello and only does this with people he is completely comfortable with.

I sing the song “Me and My Shadow” to my dog daily. A dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying, but dogs are pack animals and they follow you because they want to be with those they love most: their families.


Cats can be less obvious with their affection leaving humans confused. In Lori Soad’s article “What To Do When Kitty Brings Home a Gift,” she says, “Your cat really thinks he is bringing you a gift” as a token of their gratitude. They consider you a member of their family.

Cats are prideful, so when they roll over to show you their belly, they’re saying they trust you unconditionally.

Mother Nature Network says a head-butting cat is marking you with her scent and claiming you as her own. When you lean into them, you are encouraging them to mark away.

The difference between love bites and play bites is unmistakable: one tickles and the other hurts. Love bites are your feline’s way of saying, “You’re awesome.” Have you ever seen a cat do a weird vibrating tail wag? This is also a sign of how awesome they think you are.

When a cat kneads on you while in your lap, it’s their way of saying, “I love you.”

A purring cat means they are happy, but did you know when your cat “talks” to you, mimicking the tone and sound of her “word” assures them they are safe and loved.

A slow blink is actually a cat’s kiss. If they give you a slow blink, reciprocate with a slow blink back at them. They know what you are saying!

The ultimate sign of your cat’s love is to groom you. Use a warm, damp cloth to gently stroke their heads and back in appreciation. This mimics how it felt when being groomed by their mother. 

Now that you know a few things about your fur babies’ language of love, start speaking their language and watch how you’ll receive plenty of love in return.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

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