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10 Signs Your Cat Has Imprinted On You

Imprinting is a natural process that happens when cats bond closely with their owners. Learn more about feline imprinting. We cover some of the signs that your cat has imprinted on you and discuss why felines do this.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: May 26, 2023 | 7 min read

Two cats lying together in bed with female pet owner

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Cat owners form attachments to their pets but often wonder if their feline friends feel the same way. Felines show affection differently, sometimes seeming to prefer a specific person over others. This brings up the question of felines imprinting on humans. Owners often ask, “what are signs your cat has imprinted on you?”

Feline behavior can be curious and is sometimes hard to interpret. A cat who seems happy nestled in your lap one minute may bolt in terror the next, while a sometimes standoffish feline might come seeking attention. Owners have questions about what feline imprinting means, signs your cat has imprinted on you, and if feline imprinting is even a real thing.

Because we are here to help owners and their cats live their best lives in happy coexistence, we decided to get to the bottom of the issue. We discuss feline imprinting, what it is, and common signs your cat has imprinted on you. Read on to learn more about the phenomenon known as feline imprinting.

Cat Imprinting

Imprinting happens naturally among many kinds of animals, including humans and felines. Specifically, imprinting describes how animals form bonds and attachments to others. This commonly occurs when kittens are younger but can happen with pets and their humans, even as adults. Imprinting means a kitty or another animal has formed a close, trusting bond with their purr parent. It means that your purr baby finds you a safe place, a source of reassurance, comfort, and care.

When discussing feline behavior specifically, they often build a stronger bond with one specific individual in a household. There are many different reasons why kitties will form this closer bond with this one person. It often happens with the person who cares for them but is primarily driven by the person they feel they can communicate the best with. Felines communicate through their body language, which some humans are more in tune with than others. The person who can interpret and understand what a purr baby needs the most becomes the person with whom they feel closest.

Felines view humans as bigger versions of themselves, which is why they try to communicate, bond, groom, and eventually imprint on us. Kitties imprint with those they trust the most, which is both a tremendous honor and immense responsibility. Your purr baby will come to you for everything because you are their trusted person.

Do Cats Imprint? 10 Signs Your Cat Has Imprinted On You

Cats imprint on the people they trust and feel the strongest connection and attachment to. This can happen with young kittens, who build lifelong bonds with their new purr parent. It can also occur with older animals when they have spent extended time with and learned to trust their human counterparts. Some breeds are more trusting than others and have a higher likelihood of forming these special bonds. There are several ways to tell if your cat has imprinted on you.

They Mark You

Felines mark their territory to let other animals know what is theirs. This includes the special people they imprint with. If you have noticed your pet constantly rubbing themselves on your legs, lap, and head, this is a good sign that they are marking you with their scent. This scent lets other pets, including other kitties, in the home or outside know you are taken.

Slow Blinking

Slow blinking is a feline behavior scientists have spent a long time studying. It is shown to be a purposeful, deliberate behavior. Cats slowly blink when they are very relaxed and feel completely safe. They only slowly blink to those they trust and in situations where they feel secure. Some animal behaviorists would compare a slow blink to a warm smile. Your purr baby shows you they are happy in their current situation and trusts you with slow blinks. Slow blinking is a way they communicate that you are not a threat. Humans can slowly blink at cats to communicate back to them that everything is safe and there is no danger. Some veterinarians will even use this behavior to help make felines feel more at ease when they come in.

Showing You Their Belly

Cat belly laying on white blanket
Cats showing their belly is a way they show trust and that they do not feel threatened by you.

When a kitty rolls over and exposes their belly, it means they want to let you know they feel safe and secure when they are with you. Cats do enjoy a good belly rub, but unlike dogs, when they roll over like this, they may not be asking for a cuddle.

Grooming You

Felines groom each other as a way of social bonding and showing care. Your kitty may start to groom you, another sign they have imprinted with you. Mama kitties groom their babies, and litter mates groom their siblings. Cats that are unrelated but live together and bond also groom each other. Because you are basically a giant kitty, it makes sense that your purr baby wants to groom you. This is a way to show how much they love you and is a good sign you have been imprinted on.

Kneading You

A human's hand petting an adorable orange cat who wearing fashion fabric collar and kneading owner body back by front paw
Cats who knead on their people’s laps, legs, feet, and other body parts are doing so to show they feel happy and content.

Cats often knead things to show happiness or pleasure. Sometimes this can happen while they are being petted or sitting next to you on the couch. While this is often a happy behavior, your pet may also knead on you to show that they feel upset or need help. Either way, kneading shows that you are their trusted person, so pay attention whether it is for comfort or support.

Constant Companions

If you have a cat that wants to be around you always, your constant companion, a never relenting shadow, they have likely imprinted with you. They will try to be around you all the time. Kitties will learn your routine and know exactly when you work out, eat breakfast, and even use the bathroom. They may also want to sleep in your bed and may try to accompany you everywhere.

They Like Your Lap And Your Bed

If your kitty is always trying to sit in your lap, you are likely marked as their particular person. Kitties who imprint on people have no regard for personal space. Wherever you are, they want to be, and their favorite place to sit is on your lap. This also drives them to want to snuggle up with you in bed. A kitty who has imprinted with you will want to be near or on you all the time, regardless of where you are sitting, lying down, or standing up.

Very Chatty And Full Of Purrs

Felines often purr as a sign of contentment, and you may notice your purr baby doing this to show you they feel happy. Cats who have imprinted with you can also be quite vocal, meowing and chattering all day long. They may purr even louder when you pick them up or pet them. Kitties with imprints on special people will want to talk to them, and you may notice your kitty is very chatty and vocal around you. This sign of trust highlights the trusted bond they feel towards you.

Brings Presents

Cats who imprint on specific people will want to bring them gifts. This stems from their hunting instincts. In the wild, felines must hunt as a way of survival and show dominance. Domestic kitties still have an active prey drive, but their catches are more like prizes, not food. They will bring these to you as a way to show you love. Though it is not exactly how people communicate, this is a sign of trust and respect for felines.

Playful

Kitties imprinted with a specific person often want to do everything with them, including play. If you are that special person, you will always be your kitty’s first choice of plaything, climbing tower, or source of comfort. Even with plenty of toys, other people, and pets, your cat may only want to play with you. This can be a great honor, but it may also prove tricky for busy owners. Make sure to keep your kitty occupied with exercise options like cat wheels, wall steps, and plenty of toys and treats. Set aside a special playtime each day, just the two of you, so your purr baby knows they are also number one for you.

Do Cats Imprint On Only One Person?

Close up of cat's paws and person holding with finger
Imprinting is how kitties form human-feline connections.

Felines can imprint on more than one person. They will develop attachments with several family members but may have different levels of trust with each one. This serves many purposes. Pet owners feel these strong, affectionate bonds, and they give us great joy, adding to our lives. For felines, these bonds mean they have secured their place and know they are valuable family members. Just as humans form relationships with more than one person, and those connections can be different, felines do the same with imprinting.

Some cat breeds are more likely to imprint on one specific person and be more aloof with others. Owners may even describe it as though other people besides them are invisible to their kitties. This is a relatively normal thing and can happen for various reasons. Felines who have been abandoned or experience trauma may be less trusting and only forge these kinds of connections with one trusted individual. Those breeds more likely to prefer one person include the Bengal, Bombay, Himalayan, Russian Blue, Siamese, Siberian, and Norwegian Forest cats. Siamese kitties are known for being very particular about who they bond with and are described by many as ‘one-person cats.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats get attached to their owners?

Yes, kitties get attached to their owners. Imprinting and other behavioral signs show that our feline friends value these personal connections just as much as we do. Cats can develop closeness with one person or with multiple people. They will learn what person is more likely to let them sleep in bed, have a bite of their snack, or offer a treat.

At what age do felines imprint?

Felines can imprint when they are incredibly young and when they are older. Most will imprint with their mothers for their first few weeks together. Once they move to forever homes, kitties build emotional attachments and connections with those caring for them. Older kitties can also imprint, but it will take more time. This is because they may already have formed strong bonds, only to have them broken. It will take a little more work for them to learn to trust. Many pet owners who adopt older and shelter cats experience this.

What feline breeds are more likely to imprint on people?

Some breeds are more likely to imprint on people. These include breeds that are known for being more affectionate. Ragdolls, Burmese, Maine Coons, Abyssinians, Birman, Scottish Fold, and American Shorthairs make the list of most affectionate breeds. Of course, all felines are different, so sometimes, it depends on a pet’s circumstances. Many owners form strong attachments with their purr babies regardless of breed and even more prefer mixed breeds.

Final Thoughts

Cats imprint on each other and humans. Imprinting refers to the close bonds and connections felines form with their owners. Once a kitty has picked their trusted person, they will shower them with affection, showing they feel safe and secure. Kitties that have imprinted with humans communicate to them in many ways that they are trusted. Bonding with our pets is only one of the many ways these fantastic little creatures improve our lives. Look for the signs your cat has imprinted on you. Try not to worry or to force things. Your connection with your pet will develop naturally with time. Just make sure they know they can rely on you to keep them safe and meet all their needs.

Black cat next to I and Love And You bag of cat food and cat bowl

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