Do Cats Feel Love?
Cat Love—Real or Just a Big Case of Cat-Lady Projection?
I definitely do believe that cats love each other and human beings.
The question of whether or not cat love is real may seem silly to those who don't know cats. "They're just animals," we hear you say. But perhaps you need to look a little closer. Let me see if I can convince you . . .
As I sit down to write this article, my cat, Jo, is meowing and snuggling up around my feet, waiting a bit impatiently for her latest batch of kittens to pop into the world. As I write, my smallest cat, Gray Eyes, is circling around her, playing and wondering what her Mom is doing. And my other one, Shilo, is sitting in the living room, sleeping beside my husband as he watches golf.
Yes, we have three cats, and sometime soon, we will have three to six more little tiny kittens that live in our household. As the owner of three cats with a few more on the way, I definitely do believe that cats love each other and human beings because I have seen it with my own eyes.
Some would argue, however, that I am anthropomorphizing, which means I am applying human characteristics to a non-human entity. Anthropomorphism can be considered a form of arrogance: projecting our characteristics unto something that clearly does not have those characteristics. Placing human characteristics on non-human entities could also be considered rather foolish and child-like, a naïve pandering to silly emotions.
Those who argue against cat love have clearly never had a cat reach out and lay her paws on their arm
A Mother Cat: Best Piece of Evidence For Cat Love
The best way to find evidence for cat emotions is to own a cat. Right now, I own three plus some on the way and have owned several cats in my lifetime. I can definitely say from experience that cats do have emotions and that they do love.
The strongest example of cat love that I've seen is between a mother and her kittens. The happiness and joy she displays through purring and a look of contentment rival any human mother with her newborn baby. Those who argue that animals take care of their young merely because of instinct have clearly not spent an evening with a cat as she carefully washes their little bodies from after-birth, feces, and urine.
As she lays for hours, belly to the side, she forgoes food and movement for herself in order to satisfy these warm living bundles who have arrived straight from her belly. My cat, Jo, will beam up at me, eyes half-closed, when I come and look at her with her babies.
Those who argue against cat love have clearly never had a cat reach out and lay her paws on their arm and roll her nose against theirs. They have not seen the blatant show of affection of a cat who comes in to its owner's room at night and lays beside him sprawled out in a display of trust.
A Tale of Two Cats
The most convincing example I have ever seen of cat love was of five cats that lived in my house a couple months ago. I have mentioned them already: Jo, the Mama cat, Shiloh, the other female cat, and three female kittens.
First, a brief background: Shiloh was our first cat. We got her at eight months and were delighted with her. However, I was concerned that she wasn't getting enough attention with both of us working full-time, commuting, and trying to run our household. She was meowing a lot, and I thought a companion might do her good. Enter Jo. Jo was another female. We got her from a friend at my husband's work, and she couldn't have been more different than Shiloh if we'd brought her from another planet.
Shiloh is playful. Jo is serious. Shiloh is a risk-taker; Jo is cautious. Shiloh never smells; Jo has odour issues. And so and so on. At first, Shiloh was very aggressive towards her and seemed to constantly be picking fights. Jo would fight back, and they eyed each other with trepidation.
"She wasn't biologically capable of nursing, but she did everything else."
Needless to say, whenJo had her kittens, I was very concerned. How would Shiloh react to more competition, I wondered. Would she be as aggressive with them as she was with Jo? Shiloh was immensely curious, and at first, I would not allow her close to the kittens. She kept persisting, however, and my husband encouraged me to let them sort it out for themselves.
Well, Shiloh got in that box, and she lay beside those kittens as if they were her own. She licked them, she stopped them from running away, and she slept beside them. She wasn't biologically capable of nursing, but she did everything else. She provided care while Jo went to the bathroom or went for a walk.
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Do you believe animals are capable of emotions?
That's Cat Love
Living with my cats has given me an opportunity to watch them day in and day out and to observe them and study them regularly. I have seen many different emotions: anger, frustration, sadness, pleasure, and yes, love. Cats don't give affection to anyone that is handy, and they don't think only of themselves. They bestow the gift of affection on those who have earned their trust, and some of them lavish it generously. They do more than merely care for their babies: they hug them, and they purr in contentment when holding them. My cats hug each other, and they hug me. In my books, that is a wonderful kind of love: that, my friends, is cat love, and that is a big reason as to why I am a cat lover!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.