Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Do Cats really love?

The human English language has just one word to describe the different types of love. The ancient Greeks were a bit smarter in this respect; they used different words to describe the love for a spouse, a sibling, a parent or a friend.

You have to wonder which word they used to describe the love between pets and people. Humans know how they feel towards their pets, but it is a little harder for us to convince them that we experience the same emotions toward toward them. Is it really love, or is the bond simply a mixture of instinct, dependence and social role?

In short, do we pets really "love" humans, as they understand it? In a word, the answer is yes, according to clinical evidence. Food does play a large role in feelings of affection between pet and caretaker. But dog does not live by biscuit alone – and neither does a cat's affection depend solely on treats. (Although treats are very nice.) The mere presence and/or touch of a preferred person has been shown to reduce our heart rates – a sign of bonding. (The same is true with horses.)

We Cats are said to be independent, aloof, and not in need of company except on our terms. This is true only of some cats; certainly not all. Cats raised by people from an early age either think they are almost human, or that the human is almost a cat.

In fact, throughout a cat-person bond, the two may switch roles without realizing it. On occasion, a cat will bring home a dead or half-dead animal as a token of her love and respect (a touching, if gruesome by human standards, method of confirming the bond).

Bringing home "love offerings" of this type is a sign of attachment and belonging. There are others that require less clean up. When the bond is strong, a cat will:

Tend to follow his or her human around. She may not follow immediately, but after a moment or two she might casually saunter into the room where they're sitting (as if she's trying to play the whole thing down). The cat may jump in their human's lap or may just find a chair nearby. Either way, she prefers to spend time with her human.

(I do this all the time, but I'm probably not subtle, as I will blast by my bean on the way to bedroom and be all ready to be petted and combed and snuggled with during our reading time together!)

Some cats may become slightly depressed when their humans leave, and will greet them enthusiastically upon their return. She may learn to recognize the sound of the car pulling up and run to the door, to wait for the human's presence.

If I am outside, I will go and greet the car when it pulls up. If I am inside, I am almost always waiting by the door. I do not really become depressed when my bean go day hunting, but if she is out extra-long for some reason, I become concerned. And I always get mad when baseball season start, because she leave me alone! Supposedly cats do not get jealous in the same way that human do, but I do! Just like I do not like to see her fussing over that tabby intruder. She is my bean. He need to go find his own bean!

Some Cats will send subtle signals of affection to their humans throughout the day. These often take the form of classic "cat kisses" – staring at their human adoringly, then squinting or slowly closing our eyes. I do not do this, but sometimes my bean sends cat kisses to me! I love when she do that!

Then there are the not-so-subtle signals, such as rubbing our head upon our human, to mark them with our scent, and of course, purring.

Lying on our back, with our stomach exposed is a sign of trust. Because we are now in a vulnerable position we are showing that we trust the human never to hurt us. Many humans mistakenly think this is a request for a belly rub. It usually isn't. Although I can be a really belly rub fanatic some days!

This is the way we express our affection at its most intense. We can't hold hands, and we're not given to jumping up and kissing you the way dogs do. But there's no difficulty to describe this sort of relationship as love.

Do you have any special behavior(s) that you use to show your human how much you love them? Please leave a message in my comment box and let me know!


Sweet Praline said...

I will lie down beside my mom on the sofa and lightly touch her leg with my paw and look up at her with my big eyes! She melts everytime.

Misha said...

I wrap myself up in my Mummy's arms during the night, so when she wakes up in the morning I'm right there so she has something nice to look at first thing.

Parker said...

I am velcro cat. Whatever room Mommy or Daddy is in, I am there. And I always put my paw on thier leg when they are sitting on the sofa and I am next to them. We all give the love-eyes too!

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

I know khanines really love khats!


Daisy said...

When my Mommie approaches me, I throw myself onto my side and purr and purr.

Margaret Cloud said...

Hi Diamond, when my cat Melody was alive she use to come and rub my leg and meow, especially when she wanted tuna. Have a Happy Valentine's day and a great weekend.

Sunny's Mommy said...

For Ollie it's all about the headbutts. She loves to give them out frequently. When we had our dog, she'd stand up on her legs so she could headbutt him. After she and her sisters were rescued and living in our shed, she'd walk around her (soon to be) Daddy's shoulders and lick his ears.

Sunny is often belly up on the floor. If anyone is near he'll squint his eyes, do little short meows and flex his paws. He loves the interaction he gets from us when he's doing this.

Rascal always wants to be on the sofa by Daddy's side when he's there. She gets jealous if anyone tries to take her spot. She has to do the nursie on Daddy twice a day minimum. Towards me, she follows me around. I cannot go in the kitchen without her being there. She licks my face or hair when I'm sleeping.

MoMo said...

I certainly do many of the things that you mention, especially following my SS around and be in the same room that she is. We don't necessary cuddle or snuggle a lot but I do purr very loudly when we do.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Sadie will go to da room mom or dad is in and meow at dem to follow her to her little minky bed and rub her until she goes to sleep and Speedy actually kisses mom, really, he puts his lips right on hers! He also likes to rub his face on hers and to make her sniff his ears. Mom sez dey smell like perfume to her...she's weerd.

VampyVictor said...

Oh Miss Diamond I am glad you posted this a cause I does everything, just everything you mentioned!!And even goes as far to.. when momma is cuddling my I will reach up to her face with my two paws and pull her face down to mine so I can give her a kiss and licks..
I can't believe she still asks me all the time if I am happy sheesh, what's a guy got to do around here hehe


MISS PEACH ~(^.^)~ said...

OH YES cats really do love! HE ASKED ME!!!! He did, he did! I can hardly believe it....thank you so much for your wonderful art pages. It means so much to know that you created such a romantic setting dear Diamond....
Love Miss Peach

Patty Skypants said...

Me jumps on bed at 4 in morning and climbs on mai moms shoulder to get close to her face. Den me puts paw on her face she she wakez up and pets me. Den I purrrz. Nice. xxoo Bhu

Name: Mr. Hendrix said...

I love my beans! for my daddy, I want his special attention in the basement. When he gets home, I run over to the door and meow for him to open it. Then I lay on his lap while he watches TV. I don't lay on laps anywhere else.

As for mommy, I headbutt her head and nuzzle her. I also knead on her like crazy at night.

As a former feral, it is hard for me to show affection, but when I do, I mean it!

I gave you an award on my blog yesterday.

Happy Valentine's Day!