Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Do Cats Love Their Humans?


There's an article entitled "Do Our Cats Really Love Us?" in September's issue of Cat Fancy Magazine. The article focuses on the debate about whether cats have feelings for their humans.

Fot its article, Cat Fancy interviewed a couple of different authorities, including psychology professor Clive Wynne, author of the book "Do Animals Think?" Wynne tells Cat Fancy that:

When we interact with cats, we come to the deal wanting to love them and integrate them into our lives . . . but the cat comes into the partnership as an animal with a long history of hunting, of wanting to do its own thing. It doesn't necessarily want to have the same emotional relationship that we do. I believe that the cat is really living its own private life and using its owner where useful.

This Cat Fancy article really got me thinking. Do my boys "love" me or are they just skilled manipulators, adept at getting Liz and I to give them food and treats?

I think that, before we can really address the veracity of Wynne's theory, we have to ask one of the basic questions a human being can ask: what is love? How do we even know that we love another human being?

At its core, we know that we love someone when we intensely desire their companionship and affection. We just enjoy being around the object of our love. I'll posit that cats experience this kind of affection and desire because:

  • Cats want attention: Sometimes my boys just want attention. They don't want food; they don't need water. Arthur will often meow and meow until I follow him into the kitchen and stick my foot out so he can rub his head against it. If I give him food at this point, he'll ignore it. He wants to flip over on his back for a belly rub.

  • Cats value human contact: If cats are only interested in physical comfort, why is it that they will come and lean on me or my finacee Liz, even when we aren't the warmest or the most comfortable spot in the apartment?
  • Cats show favoritism: My fiancee Liz is always jealous, because the boys always stop what they're doing and run to greet me at the door when I come home. They follow me around at various times. They don't always do that for her. When I was on a business trip, the boys would stare at the front door or the bedroom door and meow, presumably hoping I would come out.
  • Cats Cooperate With Other Cats: If cats are solitary animals that are incapable of love, why do my boys seek out each others company and why do they cooperate rather than compete in many circumstances? For example, if I dangle a toy, the boys will take turns batting at it. They won't try to shove each other out of the way.

In human relationships, if the relationship is a positive one, we desire their well-being and we are willing to make sacrifices on their behalf. I'm not sure if I see a quality of self-sacrifice in cat love for humans, but I have heard of cats giving "presents" like dead mice to their humans. Sharing food is a huge self-sacrifice for animals. I see my boys flipping over onto their backs and making themselves "vulnerable" in my presence. To me, that is a sign that they trust me and, in a cat's world, trust = love.

The crux of Wynne's whole argument is that cats and other animals do not experience emotions like people do. It's wrong-headed to pretend that your cats are furry people, but it's also very elitist of us humans to believe that we have a monopoly on feelings. Cats are not robots whose only function is to survive. The emotional life of cats, in some ways, may even be richer than a person's, because they have no inhibitions about what they feel. In a short period of time, a cat can go from contentedness to anger to desire to affection. Is it all about survival? I don't think so.




62 comments:

DJ said...

I read the same article,and I didn't quite agree with the authors premise about cats. My cats all have very distict personalities. I am owned by a Manx, who is very much a cat with a great deal of personality. She is capable of showering me with a great deal of affection, and it is simply given as a emotional offering on her part. There is no other reason for her to be attentive, she is not gaining anything from it, other than what pleasure it brings her on her own cat level.

I agree with you Avram, that cats do have very rich emotional lives, and they want to share that with their guardians.

baileyshelby said...

I second that dj! I have 19 cats, 16 which live inside. They all have separate and distinct purrrsonalities. There are some that seek others out. They lean into each other, headbutt each other and me and allow their heads to be cleaned by another. I have also noticed that some of the cats only headbutt certain ones and some of them only allow some of them to clean their heads. They seek me out for attention and loving. As far as feeling are concerned, Bailey is my #1 cat, I recently got another siamese that is VERY aggressive and have been keeping him in my bedroom i.e. he sleeps with me, displacing Bailey from his spot for the last 8+ years. He has the sadist look and meow on his face when I get up in the morning. I truly believe cats/animals have feelings. Just ask Cody, he'll tell you he is so jealous of Bailey. I have 5 semi-ferals that are so attached to one of my cats, I have told my husband if something ever happens to me and he needs to rehome them, those 5 need to go with Mickey.

Catophile said...
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Gangsta1334 said...
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socidoc said...

Avram,
Can't keep the pervs out no matter what your blog is about these days... at least they are fantasizing about cats... (which does make them look *very* desperate, doesn't it? LOL)
The rest of us really do love your blog, and your kitties!

paws4thot said...

Hm, who are those 'pervs' - as someone referred to them - people with latent aggression who have nothing better to do with their time than leave messages on blogs which don't actually interest them. Sad. Why can't you just delete their moronic comments, the rest of us certainly have no interest in reading them!

Personally, I don't care if my cat loves me or not or what the nature of its 'love' is - I think to love a cat is a selfless act of appreciating a being which is uniquely 'free'. At the very least it's a good exercise in some kind of unconditional feeling. Maybe another way to think of it is as some kind of expansion of one's own imagination - maybe the emotional attachment we have to cats is to qualities that we 'invent' for them - so a kind of creativity and love of life is fostered. What could be wrong with that?

I love the fact that cats are so graceful and capable of pleasure - that's something it's good to be in contact with.

jon said...
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littlebryd said...

hi, and thank you for your story, it's thoughtful and it warmed my heart. i was searching because my girlfriend told me that her cat fell out of her 15 story window and apparently, cats can survive well from falling from 9 stories and above because of being able to ready themselves for the landing - not worth testing out but she said that there was testing and the record was 32 stories...

i have a maine coone named kelso, who loves me and hates my son who he treats like the anti christ. he hates to be touched by him and uses him only as a source of entertainment and to satisfy his curiousity.... he likes to watch his childlike behaviours and goings-ons. he likes to attack him when he's doing his homework because my son has to sit down and not move per my orders and that's when my cat takes the advantage to attack, also, my cat attacks my son when he sits in the leather chair, which my cat calls his own because leather is cooling to his furry body and he doesn't appreciate it when anyone, who could be sitting on the sofa chooses to sit in the wooden chair or the leather seat, he seems to see it as a personal afront, lastly kitty visits me each morning for personal love and attention, it's his time for petting and cuddling, any other time is inconvenient for him and may lead to my being semi-attacked... more later

Steve Austin said...

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ILOVEMERLIN said...

I had six cats three passed away - all indoor all nueterd spayed etc. One of my babiiiiiies Merlin (black gold eyes)had since he was born he is six- his mother was a rescue and he was born in my closet - extremely close - him and I - he sits with me, crys at the door when I leave. He was our last cat we aquired.

We got a new kitten - a rescue Maggie - he at first would have nothing to do with her - than they became inseparable.

Yesterday I picked him up and he cried and growled - I rushed him to the vet - can not find anything wrong? He even scratched my nose.

Last night he was on the bed with me purring? As soon as my husband and the other cats came in - he turned on me again. They were all on the bed this morning but him - he will not have anything to do with me unless no one inlcuding the husband stays out of the bedroom and off the bed - help!

Anonymous said...

i believe my cat loves me. he certainly likes me more than he does most people! your right, cats are not just all about survival. my cat will come up to me at any given time and snuggle, and he goes to bed with me every night, sleeping right next to my head. and im not even the one who feeds him! so yes, cats can and do love their humans, if their humans treat them well and love them back.

Anonymous said...

I have a cat who looks in my eyes, talks to me, comes like a dog when called, and follows me everywhere I go around the house. She acts similarly with my two children as well. This is a cat who lives for love, and thus she gets a whole lot of it.

Anonymous said...

My boy is almost a year old, 26/11 s his birthday. He is a beautiful British short hair and he makes me a better person.

GabrielVanHorny said...

I am proud to be owned by 2 cats, who invariably follow me to the end of the street when I go shopping, and will wait hours on end for my return, even in howling rain. Their screams of uninhibited joy when I round the corner are like a blessing. They then go through the ritual of rolling on the ground, begging for a tummy scratch, before escorting me home again.I feel very privileged to be loved by these amazing animals. One of them always stays with me whenever I have the flu- by which I mean that she will not leave my bed at all, apart from her eating and toilet requirements. Apart from those, she stays with me 24/7 til I recover. So, when people say that cats are only selfish opportunists, I just shake my head in pity for their ignorance and sad,empty, cat-less lives.

Greg said...

Let me say this from personal experience: for many years I volunteered at a private no kill cat shelter. Virtually all of their physical needs were taken care of there. They had all kinds of stimuli provided by them in their environment. Nonetheless, the history of all the cats revolved around their experience. Virtually all of the humans who consigned their cats there paid a steep fee to do so. In the vast majority of cases, I would surmise that they did so because they were dying, or posthumously did so as a provision of their wills because they had already passed. With all their needs taken care of, I only showed up to interact with those cats willing to do so. I was virtually smothered with cats seeking human contact and affection when I did so! When there was another human present many of the cats would leave--presumably because they understood after several visits that I would not take them home (although I ultimately adopted 2 cats from there). Cats may be individualists--but those exposed to loving human contact will never forget--especially if a bond is established!

Anonymous said...

I have two cats that are about 10 now. One of them follows me around everywhere. she sleeps in my bed with me, right up at my head and will scratch and meow at the door if i don't let her in. She won't sleep on my bed if I'm not there. I went abroad for school for a year and she would cry at my bedroom door and wouldn't sleep there. She loves to cuddle and be tucked in under my arm...it is the cutest and most lovely thing to have something love you so much. I think cats have a need for attention and contact. They want affection just like us :)

Anonymous said...

My cat is not a "cuddle cat," but recently when I broke up with a boyfriend, my cat really "cuddled" with me. They sense when we are "down."

Anonymous said...

Don't agree with the articles premise at all. I got Pooh as a rescue cat at 8 weeks old. Owner had dropped kicked the kitten, broken hip, respiratory infection and 1 eye swollen shut. My wife thought euthanasia was the right thing to do, I disagreed. Spent quite a bit treating her. She turned out to be the most loving and caring cat I've ever had. When I am down or blue, Pooh comes up and sits on my chest, goes eye to eye with me and just wants me to know she's there. No demands on her part at all. She follows me everywhere. If I am in the yard working, she's right there. At night she'll drape herself over my shoulder and sleep while I watch TV. I can even get up and move around and she stays planted.
Pooh was with me for 16 years. She recently developed some problems, inappropriate peeing, etc. and we found out she had an inoperable tumor. We could tell she was suffering and had her put to sleep last week. I can't begin to relate the loss I have. Cats definitely sense emotions, and can indeed choose to love their owners.

photo canvas said...

Thank you for posting your article and imparting your knowledge about it.I have 5 cats and they are very sweet pets. But sometimes many cats at home got jealous and fight each other for our attention. My favorite cat always sleep with me at night. She always know when I am already at home and meowing at the front of my room's door. She always get angry when other cats come to me. One time I scold him for that and what she did was, she never came home for three day. I thought she was lost but our neighbor always saw our cat just sleeping outside of my room's window at night.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the article in Cat Fancy, but I don't agree with it. I adopted my kitten from an animal shelter, and I know he loves me. He is now 1 1/2 years old. When I watch a movie, he'll sit on my chest and put his arms around my neck and purr. When I go to sleep at night, he lays flat against my side and puts his arms around my neck and purrs. When I leave my apartment he sits in the window that faces the sidewalk and watches me leave. He's an awesome cat. He loves to play by himself with all his toys and he likes to play games with me. He loves to play catch and fetch. If I throw his Snoopy, he will run really fast, do a somersault, leap up and then pounce on top of him. He loves to do somersaults. Last week he did a double somersault. He also does a flying somersault, where he jumps off the arm of the sofa, tucks his head under, rolls over, pops back up and then grabs Snoopy.
I could go on and on about how all the funny things he does, but I won't.
I'm single and he is great company to come home to after working all day.
A couple years ago, I had to put my other cat to sleep because she had lung cancer. She was two weeks shy of her 19th birthday, and it was so strange to come home to an empty apartment. So I am very glad I found such an awesome cat.

los angeles criminal attorney said...

I love cats than dogs. They are sweet and very clean animals. They more cutter and cuddly and often catches your attention when they move. Can I ask? why cats always love to move around your feet?

Daniel said...

When I was recently told over the phone that my best friend had died and burst into tears, my cat yowled in concern and empathy at hearing me cry - I've never heard him so upset before. He follows me around all day long, when I cuddle him he purrs loudly and turns his head up to kiss me, he loves to sleep with me on the bed and has never so much as nipped at me in anger. He never begs, he never gets angry. If he doesn't need me, then why does he mewl and cry to be let in if he's accidentally shut out of my room? If he felt nothing towards me then why doesn't he just spend his days outside hunting and chasing, only coming in for food? Why does he prefer to be inside with me most of the time? We have such a close bond that it would devastate me if anything ever happened to him. There's no way I could be convinced that cats don't love us after their own feline fashion.

cdz12250 said...

Our cat acts as though he thinks he's our child. No further comment necessary.

MariSan said...

Maria Sandoval
Three months ago, I found a kitten in my lawn, she was pretty ill. My family and I took care of her until she was all healthy, and since it's our first pet, we really love her and treasure her. She is not a very affectionate animal, but she finds a way of showing interest, like for example, when she feels alone she begins to meow, and when she's with company she is quiet doing her stuff, and when she gets bored she sleeps next to or very close to me and my mom, however, she doesn't love my brother, hahaha even though he loves her a great deal, when she is with him, she constantly tries to grab the doorknob to open the door. Anyway, I also think that cats can love, not in the way we would want them to return the signs of love that we show them but if they were more affectionate, maybe they wouldn't have survived and the pet that we really need is a dog, and they are so beautiful and graceful so that we can love their selfish beings, and that it is amazing how we can love them.

Anonymous said...

We have to remember that we(animated biological organism's) are organic robots of a sort.

It is like comparing a computer today with only 4-5ghz of CPU to a computer 20 years down the road that might have 10-50 terabytes of CPU.

More CPU the more advanced things can run on them.

From our perspective(because we have more CPU) I wouldn't be surprised if a cat mind was "scatter brained" in comparison to the average human mind.

Then you add lower hard drive space and much slower RAM, It might take them awhile to figure out more complex data. And like an old computer trying to calculate an insanely complex physics problem it might be highly improbable that they come to an answer.

It doesn't mean they don't feel emotion(granted not all humans can feel emotion fully either), it just means they feel it in a very uncomplicated way.

Much like a child's emotions are less complicated then an adults emotions can be.

I guess a cat's emotions could "mature" over time, but likely remain uncomplicated.

Anonymous said...

i know my boy cat bobby does (he's 5 mos old)... we have 8 cats in varying ages (the oldest cats are 5 yrs old), and they're all affectionate in their own way, but bob just needs to be in same vicinity as me... even in the bathroom. if he can hear water running, he doesnt get in but he waits outside the curtain and sits on my slippers. he loves to jump on my shoulders and clings there like a fur boa. he sleeps in my bed most of the time, and when he thinks i'm oversleeping, or if he's hungry, he wakes me up by nuzzling my face, and nipping on my nose; and when all else fails, nipping on my feet and legs. needless to say, i'm off the bed in a tizzy. he also likes to sit on my lap when im on the computer, and if he gets tired of me moving around my seat, he curls up in front of the monitor, usually blocking my view.

i sometimes worry coz his catnaps get broken since he always wakes up and follow me when i go to another room in the house.

oh and i just remembered cookie, my cat when i was still in college (she passed away a long time ago). she wasnt as affectionate as bobby is now, but she always knows when i'm feeling down or poorly, coz she always gives extra cuddles then.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I don't care what some scientist know-it-all thinks. Science can explain just so much and doesn't and can't explain everything under the Sun no matter what they say. I loved my cat and I know he loved me and my wife, maybe not on the same level as another Human, but on a level we both understand and appreciate in our own way. He died yesterday and it was/is extremely painful. It's something I never thought I could experience over any animal. We miss him so much.

Deming said...

I completely disagree with that article you mentioned. I own two cats. One of which does my sister the other is like my shadow. She pretty much follows me around all the time. She seems to enjoy just being around me and even starts purring when all I do is walk into the room. She let's me hold her and do anything with her. Flip her upside-down wear her as a hat sling her over me should abduction she just purs. She gets mad when I leave for long periods of time and goes on strike not letting me pet her, but after about a day she stops being mad. She even meows and comes when I call her. This all may be because my family hand raised her litter (her and my other cat and three others) because their mother was a stray andd wad attacked by a dog. :( but I truly believe Mouse loves me. She loves everyone you come Into the house and all she wants is to make friends. Yesmy cats name is Mouse.. I also have a hedgehog named kitty....

cat trees said...

I think that my cats have different personalities. My cats have always showered me with affection with is I think an emotional instinct.

vampires stories online said...

my feral male cat follows me like a shadow. he'd leave the food bowl to chase me if i leave the room. i went to work one day and he followed me for two blocks and cried and called me to come back. when i come home from work, he'd jump on two and land his paws on my hip. he won't get off my lap for hours. he'd sit straight with his head in the crook of my arm and look in my eyes and make sounds like a human baby.

vampires stories online said...

my cat won't get off my lap. he followed me for two blocks when i went to work and cried. he follows me around the house like a shadow. he'd sit straight in my lap with his head in the crook of my arm, looking into my eyes.

Sasha1206 said...

Sometimes when I lay on the couch, my cat lays down too only on top of the couch and sleeps above me. Does she love me?

Anonymous said...

I have two kitties both rescued, one from a bin the most beautiful cat I've ever seen! She's a light silvery colour with really subtle stripes, I don't understand how people could have thrown such a cute little kitten in the bin! This cat turned out to be the most dependant cat I've known, if she goes outside she'll be home within an hour just sitting around with us for absolutely no reason! I don't see that she wants to gain anything from that, I think she just loves us? Maybe I'm being a bit blind lol but I don't think she would do the same with another bunch of people randomly. I admit, her favourite of the family is the on who feeds her, though!

The other cat we rescued from an old petrol truck which had been dumped, he'd climbed in a hole and couldn't get out. After we took him and cared for him, we didn't feed him because his mother was around and he had been well fed by her, they had ran away when we got him out. We tried to take him back to his mother but he came back alone and we kept him! He depends on us now but I don't think he's doing it because he has to, he's a really brave cat and spends most of his life exploring, but always comes back to greet and for tickles!

These 2 cats also really don't get along well, and when one of us strokes or talks to one cat, the other cat will growl with jealousy! I find it adorable! And although being jealous is not nice for them.. It shows me that they want care and love from us!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I think cats do love us. Basically I believe it is all down to needs. Consider Maslow's hierarchy of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg). As you'll see, once any creature gets past level two, their next needs are love and family. Animals in the wild can never fully get past this level, so they will never seek anything beyond level two, since they are usually living to try to stay alive, this includes stray or feral cats. But cats who are 'owned', loved and provided for are free to seek love and family, since they are secure in the fact that they are safe and provided for.

Anonymous said...

I had a 17 year old ragdoll named Luna. I have no doubt in my mind what so ever that he loved me with all that made him a cat. He was by my side from my human age of 12 till 27. He ate when I ate, slept when I slept, hung out in the bathroom while I bathed and other things. He was given to me as a get well present as a kitten and he seemed to know even before me when I was sick. He'd sit on the edge of the bed and keep watch over me and knew when I needed cuddling. He also missed me terribly when I left for college. My said he'd mope for days and wouldn't leave my bed. when I would come home for break, mom would tell him that I was coming. He would sit in the driveway all day waiting for me. He'd jump into my arms and I couldn't do anything until he had 1 hour of emily time. Oh, we also would sit on the screen porch and have cantaloupe for breakfast. He loved that fruit and that was our special ritual. Now, I know this all sounds like BS but I also know that we choose each other and there will be only one Luna in my lifetime. His uniqueness was the way he showed his love for me and it was easy for me to give it all back to him. It was a highly codependent relationship but never cheated on me. :) he did enjoy the occasional naked lady though, we had to warn out guest about his peeping. Anyway, I think cats love their humans some you just have to work a little harder for. Just because you picked the cat it doesn't mean he picked you. Its like getting another person to like you, get to know them, be friends and the love will follow. I was blessed in finding my match, he's passed on now and I miss him everyday.

Clemens said...

Every animal knows how comforting the touch is of another living creature that you trust. It is somewhat like the feeling lovers get when they cuddle together and similar to the safety little children feel when they can touch their parents in their sleep. The human hug is a somewhat hollowed out version. But trust is a crucial factor for touch to be comforting.

Cats tend to put more trust in their human protectors, than in each other. Other cats are competitors in their territory, while humans give them their rights. The felix silvestris appears to have domesticated itself, when humans started agriculture, and settled down in marked out territories. Cats want humans firstly for their territories, not for food. Farm cats were not fed by humans, they were supposed to eat mice and rats. Feral cats can feed themselves even in densely built urban environments. The connection between man and cat is territorial.

Still today suburban cats know exactly which garden belongs to which human. Cats may compete in showing a human their affection, sometimes in an attempt to get the best food, and sometimes over territorial rights. If your neighbour's cat starts getting inappropriately affectionate to you, he may well be planning to move into your house and chase away your own cat if he gets the chance. Don't pet your neighbour's cat. Domesticated cats are macchiavellian, scheming politicians.

Cats may suck up to their landlord for political reasons, but the safety they feel in their landlord's vicinity is genuine. My cat constantly wants to touch me for reassurance, if he feels insecure. That feeling of safety cats feel in close contact with their humans can be called love. Not all displays of affection are political.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with your points, from having dead mice thrown on my pillow in the morning to the cat coming to sleep with me every night it is definitely possible for a cat to love their human. Of course there are always exceptions

Anonymous said...

This blog and all the comments is warming my heart. I'm proud to be a cat owner and love knowing there are many others like me.

Anonymous said...

i just recently started to feed a homeless cat in our neighbourhood. he has been homeless for about a year now. owners really dont care about him. they never really let their cat in or feed him so i started to. at first he was terrified to come into my house let alone let me touch him.its been about a month and now hes completely comfortable in my house and with me. He constantly cuddles with me, eeven after he recieved food and water, so hes not doing it for those needs.I think the fact that he has barely been receiving human affection if any and now hes recieving tons, has changed this agressive scared cat into a calm cuddle buddy.he comes when i call him and cuddles when i want to aswell, not just when he wants to. i think cats really do love us, they obviously cant say " i love you" but they show it by cuddling and purring and rubbing agaisnt you and watiting for you to get home just to spend time with you.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely cats feel emotions and love for the humans they live with. I have no doubt about this. Cats are amazing beings. Mine certainly are. We are in synch with each other.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely cats feel emotions and love for the humans they live with. I have no doubt about this. Cats are amazing beings.

pharmacy one said...

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aneshwer said...

im from india . And i hav a kitty 2 mnths old. Her names poochu. She s so cute and loves to hunt and wrestle power chords and my finger.makes a fuz wen hungry but dnt we al do that? She loves me enuf 2 use the litter box and i lov her a lot. We stay together alone and she sleeps under my blanket.

Anonymous said...

i have 2 cats and 1 kitten. I have an 18 year old cat that i rescued when she was 11yrs and it took 7 years of trust to build for her to sit in my lap. I have a 1 and 1/2 yr old cat that we rescued as a kitten and she does not like to be held or touched unless you got food for her, but she will sleep near the bed. and then my kitten i found in the road when she didnt even have teeth yet, i bottle fed her and spent every moment loving her. she is now 11 weeks old and she follows me everywhere. when i go to bed she sleeps on my pillow, when i take a bath she sits on the toilet seat and waits, when Im on the computer she is right here on my lap. she is my little cuddle bug. i just love her so much, and i know she loves me too.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, i'm reading this while my little guy snuggles on my lap despite it is almost definitely one of the more uncomfortable spots in the room. secondly, cats are NOT solitary animals. the domestic house cat is similar to the lion in that in the wilds, they would have grouped together in prides. they have a good group mind, not TOO MUCH unlike dogs in some ways. i don't know what kind of expert this douchebag was but im pretty sure he was talking out his arse. and baileyshelby 19 cats is far too many.

Anonymous said...

People who simply feed their cat treats and feed it will never bond with their cat. You will simply be a commodity. This is a sign of a lazy cat owner. Or a deprived one. Our cat LOVES us. She is smart and affectionate. She greets us at the door with a meow, purr, and reaching paw. She follows us everywhere and is always with us. She purrs just seeing us. She likes to play. She will give us love blinks back to us ( try slow blinks at your cat and see what they do). She winks at us after playing or when she does something silly. She follows simple commands and understands "no". She flops for belly rubs. She begs to curl up and sleep in my arms or under the covers with me. Once she slept curled on my feet under the covers when I wouldn't let her in my arms. She meows and reaches up to us when she wants attention or to be held. Is she an exceptionally bright cat? Yes. Does she have an exceptional personality? Yes. But she was also a feral who had an amazing foster mother. We love our cat and have an incredible bond with her. She truly does appear to interact and love us. And for the record, we have NEVER fed her treats-we don't believe they're healthy for cats. Bonding with your cat should never involve food, in our opinion. Owners who think that feeding treats to their cat is sharing a bond have no idea. It takes work to bond, but it's amazing when it happens

Corbie Mitleid said...

I think the degree to which they "love" us depends a lot on how they are raised. I get my Maine Coons when they are roughly 12 weeks old. For their first three weeks with me, their feet rarely touch the floor! They are on my lap, next to me on the sofa, on my work desk, on the bed. They are touched, cooed to, applauded, bellyrubbed, nuzzled and played with. By the end of the first month they understand that people are big playmates who know how to get the food cans open, and they openly and actively search out me or my husband frequently during the day. I can't tell you how many times my work is interrupted by this big brown tabby galoot who hops on my desk, sits on the wireless keyboard until I move it, and then flops down in front of me, paws kneading my chest and purring loud enough to crack walls. And why, if they have no emotional bond to us, does my big orange and whie boy wait until I am in bed at night and come walking up my side, "blanketing" me (stretching his length and flopping his legs down either side) and nuzzling me under the chin with great happy rumbles? You can't tell me that's not affectionate behavior by cats who know they are safe, appreciated and loved.

GreenElfMom said...

I have owned many cats in my life. A few have been more or less indifferent to me; a few are at the other end of the scale and passionately adored me as if we were soul mates. (I am lucky enough to own a cat like that now!)

I think the author in question is actually rather indifferent to cats and probably doesn't know how to interact with cats in a way that can establish a close relationship. It's like a color-blind person trying to judge the beauty of a flower that he really can't see.

Anonymous said...

my boyfriend has the cuttest cat! she´s black and white, her name is Miu and i do think they love. she always looks for him and just cuddles as if it were her dad. She always burries herself beside his heart and sleeps there it´s adorable.

Cats love their guardians :P

Anonymous said...

my boyfriend has the cuttest cat! she´s black and white, her name is Miu and i do think they love. she always looks for him and just cuddles as if it were her dad. She always burries herself beside his heart and sleeps there it´s adorable.

Cats love their guardians :P

elaine d. said...

Who ever thinks that cats do not love and trust their "humans" has never really had much of a relationship with them. It's impossible to see their kindnesses, their ways of giving (including as the author notes, bringing dead mice to their caretakers. I had a cat who became ill. He spent a week at the vets. His vet told me that he wasn't sleeping much, so I brought in a big book to spend more time than usual with her. As soon as she touched my lap, she fell into a deep sleep. THAT is trust; a trust no meaner because it comes from a cat and not a human. This same cat could have died several times, but (and yes this is my own opinion), she didn't want to leave me. When she was dying of kidney failure, I had to hydrate her twice a day. Sometimes the needle wasn't positioned correctly and I had to stick her as many as 6 times. She just lay there calmly through it all, knowing that the pain wasn't part of some terrible plan to torture her. She stayed as long as she could. She wanted to be with me and she knew I would miss her so badly. After she died, I became so depressed I was hospitalized. Yeah, I loved her. Yeah, she loved me just as much and showed it all the time. It IS hubris on the part of humans to imagine that they somehow feel more - we need to think we are superior in every possible way - it's part of who WE are and it doesn't really matter - lots of us know what BS it is. It only matters when an animal is being treated cruelly - how many would step forward on that animals' bealf? Because not doing so makes us far less on a sentient level than any "animal" (as if we're not animals too.)

Anonymous said...

Gabriel 's Cat sounds like mine. When I am sick he will not leave my side, only for food or potty requirements. And yes ... My Regi does love me and I love him too !

Anonymous said...

When there were several people at my house for a party, my cat used to sit on a footstool that was at the edge of the circle.
He would not beg for anything, not food, not even attention. He would just sit in the circle, as one of the humans, and purr.

My cat was happy just to be a part of the familly/pride, whatever. When he was just sitting near me, he was happy.

During his last day he was to weak to move. He could do nothing but sit and wait for death, he never went to the woods, he just lay in the spot he would usually sit waiting for me to let him in.

We spend his last few hours together, and I pet him, he could no longer stand, or fight off the flies and maggots, but still, he purred softly, and tried to knead my hands.

Even immobile and in pain, being with me made him happy.

If that cat didn't love me, then I have never been loved before.

Wondering Numbers said...

I know my cats love me, but they love each other more.

When I laugh, Keiko thinks there's something wrong with me, and he comes running to check me out.

If we don't see each other for a couple of hours, he'll come see what I'm doing too.

Animals have strong emotions, and they're ruled by them, just like some people.

The only difference in their love is really that cats don't think we're cats. Keiko treats me differently than he treats Medusa, the other cat.

If a life and death situation were at hand, Keiko would run to help Medusa before me.

They appear to discriminate, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a special place in his heart for me.

Anonymous said...

Well, i have two cats who live near my building. Both are very nice pets of simeone. One is shy and other one is veryyyyy friendly. I know him since he was a kitten. Si he is very friendly to me. And the other one is shy. I know him since long like 6years but not seen him as a kitten. So he runs away when i try to approach him. But sometimes he comes and let me touch him. Maybe because he feels sad or just feels ignored by his reak owners. But its a persian cat. A very beautiful cat. But he is shy. And one day i saw him playing and jumping alone in a garden. Si i just went close to him and said ohh so you like to play and you do play.. And suddenly he was shy and when i called him he cam towards me slowly and i put my hand in the air and he came closer to my hand and rubbed his head under my hand. And that time he allowed me to touch him. Ohhh my god. He is very handsome and with lots of fur. I love him. It depends on the cats mood if she wants to come to you. And the other cat is always coming to me when i call him. Coz i know him since his kittenhood. so they just like to be loved. Nothing else. No food. They live with us for love and companionship. And if food and shelter is added to love, what else a cat needs? But their priority is love. They are animals and not like greedy humans.

Anonymous said...

I love this article and I genuinely believe my cats loves me. He will follow me around and when I pick him up he will put his arms around my neck and pull me towards him and 'kiss' my nose. He doesn't do this to anyone else and everyone who sees it thinks it's amazing the way he interacts. He pushes things off my knee just so he an sit there and no word of a lie he has learnt the command 'sit' like a dog! This is down to the relationship we have and I think the bond you have with your cat is something no one else can understand. I think it's naive to think that cats are not capable of love when they are clearly capable of showing such powerful emotions.

Anonymous said...

Two philosophical theories have led to enormous animal suffering, and unfortunately they still influence academic discourse and the training of experts today.
Cartesianism and Behaviourism:
The Cartesian theories reduced animals to automata, mindless reflex machines incapable of consciousness and simply responding mechanically to external stimulus.
Now completely discredited, Behaviourism asserted that animals lack any 'internal state.' Again, they simply react in a predictable way to external stimuli.

Anybody with an ounce of empathy who has spent more than ten seconds with a cat can see through this nonsense instantly, but it still retains a hold.

Anonymous said...

I've had 15 cats in my life and there has never been a question of whether or not they feel. They look in your eyes and talk to you by meowing after you say something to them. They like soothing touch. They feel safe around their human family . These are all things in common with humans. Wanting affection is a mammal trait. Humans are separated by their ability for abstract reasoning, not their ability to love. Feeling affection and wanting companionship is a basic mammal characteristic.

Anonymous said...

I have read about studies that have shown that a cat who is hungry but also not seen his human companion for a while will greet the companion before eating, if offered both at the same time. I don't have a source for the studies at the moment, but I think any of us who have had cats can believe it's true. There is no doubt that cats bond with (love) their owners.

It also strongly disagree with claims that animals do not feel emotions, not only is this obviously false to anyone who has ever observed an animal, research is now starting to confirm that animals do have rich emotional lives. The whole premise is nonsensical anyway, as the parts of our brains that produce emotions are the more primitive parts from earlier in our evolution before we evovled higher intelligence and language. We are able to analyse our emotions in ways that other animals can't, but they almost certainly have the same brain structures we use for producing emotions.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting article as well as the comments here are interesting. Cats are complex but I agree that all animals are capable of loving. My parent's was a cuddle bug when she was younger. Now that she's older she cuddles less so, but for some reason when my Dad is on the couch she really just wants to hang out with him more than my Mum or me. Unless I'm going into deep sleep mode in the living room I won't get as much cuddles from her. It just seems like she prefers to hang out with him more. Is it because she gets more petting? The truth is my Dad dt understand it either he actually gets real annoyed with her because she does this so much.

Anonymous said...

I have 2 cats that are very different in personality and adjustment. One is a stray that adopted me and another I picked up at the animal shelter. Both have been abused and have emotional scars. The stray ducks even when I slowly try to pet the top of its head. Takes a long time for both cats to learn to trust. Like humans they can develop trust issues. I have had both cats for a year now.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if my kitten really likes my because my dad says they only want to be petted, fed, and watered. But I believe that he shows favoritism and that shows a bit of love. They don't have the same exact feelings of "love", but they certainly have their ways of showing it.