They comfort us on our worst days and amuse us on our best days. Sure, sometimes they do things which try our patience, but don't all of our loved ones?
When I talk to people who don't have cats, I find that I've become a cat advocate. I tend to think that other people would be a lot happier if they had cats to come home to. The other day, a friend was telling me about how her daughter keeps dating the wrong kind of man, because she's looking for acceptance. I said "can't she just get a pair of cats? They'll boost her self confidence and she won't need to rush into a bad relationship."
I could be totally wrong here, but I wonder if certain tough periods in my life might have been a little easier if I had had cats at the time. Maybe being an awkward teen would have been a little better if I came home to purrs. Maybe going through some tough breakups with girlfriends would have been easier. Maybe there are times in my life when I would have had more confidence if I knew I was getting the kind of unconditional love you can only get from an animal companion.
On the other hand, millions of people have cats and it looks like many of them are not experiencing the same kind of relationshp with their cats that I have with mine.
Just yesterday, I was talking to a friend who adopted a cat a few months ago. I asked him how it's going and he said "my cat is just not friendly. She keeps to herself and only interacts with us when she needs something." If I had that kind of cold relationship with my boys, I would not be a cat advocate at all. I'd probably feel like the whole relationship was a waste.
To be fair, I don't have all the facts. My friend lives far away and I've never seen him interact with a cat nor have I met his "cold" cat. But what I wonder is this. Is his cat non-social, because he isn't raising her right, because she was born that way, or maybe because she's the only cat in the household?
Perhaps it is better to ask "why is my cat relationship such a good one?" Is it because:
- Arthur and Beowulf are just special guys who are particularly friendly and sweet?
- They were born in a shelter and I adopted them at an early age (10 weeks) so they've always known human kindness and never wanted for anything?
- They have each other so they are never lonely?
- Liz and I have put a fair amount of effort into building the relationship?
What makes one person's cat relationship a life-altering experience and another person's cat relationship cold and distant? Why are my cats important, active members of the family while other people's cats become part of the house, like pieces of furniture? Is it the cats or the people?