Unlike dogs, who were mostly domesticated by humans, cats are subtle when expressing how they feel. Hundreds of years of self-selecting for independent traits has left them with a language of love that’s so mysterious, you could literally blink and miss it. Here’s a little help for interpreting feline emotional behavior.

Those meows are just for you.
Ever noticed that dogs bark at other dogs, but cats only meow at humans? That’s right, your little introvert may not always want to interact, but cats went out their way as a species to communicate with you. Now that’s effort.

They want you to smell like one of the gang.
Cats have scent glands all over their body, including their head, and they make good use of them to create a group scent. That means that everyone smells a little bit like each other, including you.

Being grumpy is their thing, not yours.
Sure, your cat’s not always a ray of sunshine, but turns out they notice when you’re in a good mood and appreciate it. Research show that it’s their preferred time to hang out (before of course going off to be grumpy by themselves).

They could pick your voice out of a crowd. And still ignore it.
Just because they don’t come running when you call doesn’t mean they don’t care. According to research, cats looked more alert when their owners called them than they did for strangers. That’s reassuring for the next time you try to coax them out from under the bed.

They actually do value your opinion.
In a study where cats were exposed to something unfamiliar, they looked to their owners to see how to react. The result? If your cat sees that you’re not afraid of the scary vacuum, they’re more likely to be ok with it too.

They’d pick you over food.
It’s true. 50 adult cats, half of which were pets and half from a shelter, were given the choice between food, a feathered toy, a scent or socializing with humans. And in the face of every cat stereotype imaginable, the top choice was time with their favorite human. Take that, tuna.

Blink once if you love your cat. Seriously.
The greatest act of love in your cat’s emotional arsenal? A super slow eye blink called the “cat kiss.” It’s their way of showing that they trust you enough to close their eyes (ok, we didn’t say it was effusive). Want to return it? A proper cat kiss calls for a relaxed face and veeeery sloooow blinks.