Sharilee is a longtime cat-lover who enjoys sharing her experiences with others.
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 everythingelse."
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.
Take A Poll
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!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 14, 2014:
FlourishAnyway, thanks so much for your beautiful comment. That is such a touching story. I find with my kitties, too, that they show love when it is needed, even if they have their squabbles from time to time. And agreed, wholeheartedly, cats are absolutely beautiful, inside and out. Thanks again for coming by, and I do apologize for the late reply. I have been so busy teaching that my comments have fallen VERY far behind. Have a great day!
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 19, 2014:
I enjoyed reading about your kitties, especially the babysitter. They most certainly have emotions and the capacity to love. When my very old cat, Oscar was on his deathbed, one of the cats who had always been mean to him struggled to be with him. We thought the other cat was trying to make Oscar's last experience on earth as unpleasant as possible, so we tried to dissuade him. Eventually, we allowed it under close oversight. Shep (the other cat) laid down next to Oscar almost spooning him and simply purred. It was one of the most touching displays of comfort I have ever witnessed, from humans or animals. Cats are beautiful.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 15, 2012:
@Letitia, very interesting! I love that you come at from a scientist's perspective, and you disagreed with the professors were saying. Thanks for the comment!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 15, 2012:
@Izzy, thank you so much for coming by and commenting. First of all, six, almost seven cats? You are a true animal lover, without a doubt! Our jurisdiction only allows three cats per household, without a permit, but seven cats sounds like a true luxury, although lots of work, too!
And yes, you make a very good point, that animal love is seen in many species, and even across species. I remember one particular video about a cat and a bird who became best friends. It is definitely a part of nature. You give some beautiful examples. Thanks so much for the wonderful comment, and the shares! Have a wonderful weekend.
LetitiaFT from Paris via California on September 12, 2012:
I definitely agree with you. I studied primate behavior years ago and so many professors try to drill the notion of anthropomorphism into you. I do understand, but at the same time I always felt like shouting "how do we even know humans have emotions? Just because they say so? So we just take their word for it? Or do we observe it?"
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 12, 2012:
We currently have 6 of our own, plus one remaining foster kittenfrom the last batch, whom no one has yet adopted--and he's already 5 months old, and starting to lose his 'kittenish' face. (Beginning to look like we may end up with 7 cats....)
But, though they are all different, and there are sometimes "issues" they need to sort out, they are all, also very affectionate, each in keeping with his or her own personality. The baby is a real lover, and wants to sing you purr songs in bed--unfortunately by trying to lie on your head! LOL
I've been around animals, and cats in particular, long enough to see for myself that animals have affection and caring for each other. Just ask the squirrel seen standing guard at the side of the road by his dead mate (or friend's) body...or the dog in the same situation--recently featured on Face Book...you can find endless examples...and cross-species affection as well.
Voted up++across and shared!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 12, 2012:
@btr, you sound like you have very sweet cats. My kitties and I give a cordial hello! Thanks for your support -- it's so nice to meet another cat lover. Take care!
Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on September 11, 2012:
Love this! My cats love each other and us. The 4 of them greet me when I walk in the door and each of them kisses me goodnight! Not to mention all the loving snuggles in between. One of our little boys goes to each member of our family for a kiss goodnight. If that's not love, I don't know what it is! great hub, voted up and awesome!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 28, 2012:
@Shea, ha! Very good point! Yes, it is true that some cats get nasty, too. I think they've been hardened by a world that hurt them at one point or the other, but the love is still there. Thanks for an awesome comment.
shea duane from new jersey on July 27, 2012:
I agree... even nasty kitties have love deep inside...
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 16, 2012:
Toknowinfo, thanks for sharing about your sweet cat. She sounds like such a sweet kitty. I know the Siamese have a very distinctive meow that is very loud. And yes, cats do enjoy the company of other cats, although they sometimes resent it, too. They really are such sensitive little creatures. Thanks so much for coming by!
toknowinfo on July 15, 2012:
This is a wonderful hub. I love my cats and I love my dogs. It is so interesting to see the difference in how they show their affection. But cats certainly do love us and each other. Each of my cats have such different personalities, which endears them to me. Years ago, I had a gray siamese named Sparky. He came into our home before we had our kids, and threw up every time I came home from the hospital with another baby. But he learned to love my kids. He would cuddle with them as they did their homework, and sit with them as they learned to read. Sparky learned to co exist with the rest of the pets in our house, but I thought he should be our only cat, and he was until 6 months before he passed away. He loved Paris, our new cat, and that is when I realized it is good for cats to have other cats as company. Sparky, being a siamese could actually talk, but only to us. He would walk around the house meowing, Mommy Hungry, and say hello to my kids when they walked in the door. He meowed to us with his last breath to say goodbye when we had to put him down. For the over 17 years we had Sparky, the love he showed us will stay with us forever.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 23, 2012:
@Chris, wow! That is amazing. I look forward to reading that hub. Thanks for the wonderful comment.
@Joan, you are right. They often take a while to warm up but after that, they are loyal and loving. Nice to meet another cat lover. Thanks for the lovely comment.
Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on June 19, 2012:
This is a lovely Hub! I agree totally, cats do love. They love humans and they love each other. But they have to be sure first! Voted up and across
Chris Hugh on June 19, 2012:
I stopped breathing once and my cat Twitch patted my face until I woke up. I wrote a Hub about it. People wonder if I'll ever shut up about it. LOL.(No, I won't.) Anyway, you can probably guess my opinion about whether cats can love. Great Hub! Up and shared.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 22, 2012:
Hi Cat Lover, is your "lap top" a cat? What a lovely thing to call Olive. Have a wonderful day and thanks for the comment!
[email protected] on May 21, 2012:
My laptop's name is Olive
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 07, 2011:
Crafty, that is so sweet! It sounds like your cat is a real "mama" to you guys. Thanks for sharing, and nice to meet you.
craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on December 06, 2011:
I agree that cats can love. My cat Lilly is so caring that when one of us is in bed with the flu or something, she smells us and wants to cuddle up with us to reassure us that even though we "smell sick" she still loves us! I voted your Hub up.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on December 02, 2011:
Carol, they sure do. When we had to get give away our kittens, Jo was so sad. They are so full of love, aren't they? With three of them, you certainly get to know cats on a whole different level. Thanks so much for the comment. Take care!
Carol Petretti from California on December 01, 2011:
I agree, cats show love, they also show sadness when one of them passes on, and depression. I currently have 3 cats. Each one is very unique.
Lisa Kroulik from North Dakota on November 21, 2011:
We like to say the only thing they have in common is they're both cats. Different as night and day, just like people are.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 21, 2011:
NYB, that is so sweet! She does sound very loving. That's funny about Shadow, too. They have such different personalities, don't they? Thanks for the great comment and take care!
Lisa Kroulik from North Dakota on November 20, 2011:
I absolutely agree that cats feel love. I have two, Angel and Shadow, both with distinct personalities. As a lifelong cat owner, I must say that Angel is the most loving cat I have ever know. Up to three times a day, she's on my lap or shoulder, purring and licking my arms. She seems to need this snuggling time as much as I do, but being a cat, it has to be her idea. Shadow has no interest in snuggling at all, but he will consent to hang out with us at times. Occasionally they even snuggle with each other.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 01, 2011:
HBN, yes, that is interesting - I had thought I would get some disagreement on that one, for sure.
Having cats really does convince you that they are loving and I am happy that my writing was able to portray that. Thanks for a great comment and support! Take care!
Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 31, 2011:
Interesting that 52 people have taken your poll about whether animals are capable of emotions and each one has answered yes.
I love the way you described your cats in this hub as I could "feel" the love that you were talking about through their interactions. And the photo of Shiloh is beautiful.
Voted up across the board except for funny.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 29, 2011:
ii3rittles, what a beautiful story you told. That little kitty showed a depth of love! I am so touched by that and thank you for adding to this hub with your experience. Take care!
ii3rittles on September 27, 2011:
All animals love. Love comes from our spirit. Animals have spirits as we do, but not souls (they can't be condemned). Not having a soul is what makes us love them so much. They don't understand all the emotions we, as humans go through. They are at peace even when death is staring them in the face. I can't really explain it but I truly admire their love and fearless compassion.
I have proof, for those who don't believe cats can love. A stray cat, my mother named PC (Porch Cat) was living on her porch for nearly a year. She fed him everyday. While I was still living there, every day my boyfriend (now, fiancé) came to pick me up, I'd sit on the porch and he would sleep in my lap. He wouldn't want me to leave him. One day, I wasn't feeling good, I suffer from horrible anxiety, so I went out on the porch earlier then normal to wait to be picked up. He ran right up to me and plopped on my lap. I hugged him and his purring some how helped me. As I was walking to the car, I looked back and I could see it in his eye, the love he had for me. I told him I would see him later. I got in the car, closed the door and as we began backing out of the driveway, he ran for the car crying. He chased us about 30 feet up the street, crying. I had to turn around and make sure he didn't get hit. There he was, sitting on the porch, waiting. I never in my life seen a cat chase after a car like a human child crying, crying out "Don't leave me!". I also didn't mention, he is terrified of cars when they are running. If that's not proving cats can love, then I don't know what love is!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on September 03, 2011:
Carol, thanks for the wonderful comment. Take care!
Carol Petretti from California on September 02, 2011:
Thank you for this hub. I agree. Cats love, deeply.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on August 09, 2011:
Husky, thank you so much for the comment. I am sorry to hear about your sweet Alley. Take care!
Husky1970 on August 01, 2011:
No question about it. Cats do definitely and undeniably love. Beautiful photos in your hub. You made me miss Alley, our stray cat who adopted us in 2002 and proceeded to live with us and love us dearly for the next 8 and a half years. RIP Alley 6/21/2010, which also happened to be our 40th wedding anniversary. Voted up and beautiful.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 19, 2011:
Joanne, so true. That's their main way of talking, and they read our body language, too. Thanks for the great comment!
Joanne on July 16, 2011:
I believe cats give love to their owner's. Cats, will tend to pick out one person in the family, just as dogs do. Just read some interesting articles on felines and their body language. I had no idea how much a cat talk with their bodies. It was just amazing.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 15, 2011:
@Jenny, awww, that's so sad that your cat missed you that much, that he started to lose weight. They do get so attached to us, and to each other. It is so true -- only those that have never lived with a cat could believe they don't have emotions. Their emotions are so complex, too!
@Maren, so very true. We are so blessed to have these beautiful little creatures love us, as they do. It is a gift. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. From one cat lover to another!
Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on July 13, 2011:
I agree with you - any human who has had a cat's paw reach out, or who comes to snuggle for a moment, or wants to be in the same room...these are little angels which we are fortunate to have love us.
Jenny_Leigh from Pennsylvania on July 13, 2011:
Cats are most certainly able to love and feel emotion just as people do! Only someone that has never owned a cat would disagree.
When I got my first apartment, I was originally told I could bring my cat, Molly (a boy, actually). Well, I was all ready to move him in, when the landlord said I couldn't have any pets. I visited him frequently, but not even a few weeks went by when he started losing weight. We believe that he must of missed me, because after I noticed he was losing weight, I would actually spend the night with him sometimes and he started looking better.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 09, 2011:
RT, aww! That is so cute, and it sounds like you fell helplessly in love. Cat love will do that to you, I know from experience. That's so cute that he came to work with you. We do find a way when we love someone!
Thanks for such a great comment!
RandomThoughts... from Washington on July 06, 2011:
I was working at a pet store and a customer came in with a kitten. She said he was found with another one on the side of the road. Someone else took the other kitten and this woman couldn't take this one. I said no, I have moved and the apartment didn't take animals. I looked at him again. Long haired, black and white with a black dot on his chin.
The third time I saw him he put his paw on my face. All this was in a span of ten minutes. Well, third times a charm... he came home with me and we commuted to work everyday until I moved. Thanks for the kitty stories. I love them too.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on July 03, 2011:
Lucky Cats, thank you so much for your insightful comment. I agree about the jealousy thing, too. That makes it tricky having more than one cat: to try to make it fair! You are definitely one to be able to talk about the intelligence and uniqueness of cats, and I am glad to have your input. Take care!
Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on June 29, 2011:
PrairiePrincess...you've said it all and I need not add one more word. So, though, I want to underscore what you've said and add a few of my own observations: You are right..cats DO love. They DO feel many emotions. Cats remember and they express so many different audible sounds to indicate what they are feeling at the moment. Cats feel jealousy, too, when another takes attention away. Cats are amazingly intelligent and possess individual unique traits and personalities. I wish all the world could take the time to enjoy and understand our feline frineds. thank you for a thoughtful, thought provoking and great huyb! UP Awesome, Beautiful, Useful! And..there should be a TRUE!!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 17, 2011:
Vision, thanks so much! I hope I was able to do a good job of convincing them. Yes, those girls were so amazing. I still have three left, and they still get cozy sometimes, which I find adorable. Thank you for the comment. Take care.
visionandfocus from North York, Canada on June 15, 2011:
This is such a beautiful hub! Your subtitle, the bit about cat-lady projection, made me laugh. I'm afraid those who are not cat people may tend to think that way, but after reading your hub, they've gotta see the error of their way of thinking. And that group photo is awww-some!!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on June 06, 2011:
Light, awww! He sounds like a sweetie!
Light.of.sitmoia2 on June 06, 2011:
My cat is 18 ...and diabetic..he is a big lovey dovey!!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 25, 2011:
RT, thank you so much for your comment. I know what you mean ... cats really are amazing, and I agree with giving the credit to God, their creator. And it is so true, that they are dependent on us, which so sweet. Thanks for the great comment from a fellow cat lover. Take care!
RTalloni on May 23, 2011:
"Yes, they do" was my answer to your title. Enjoyed the read. Thanks much. :)
It would be uncanny to see our cat's behavior if I did not understand that God created her with certain instincts. Her understanding of us sometimes seems to be better than our understanding of her! :) But she is limited, and for all her independence and "I am the queen, the ruler of everything" attitude, she is dependent on us. She enjoys our company. She can be sad, and she can be happy. And she loves. :)
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 19, 2011:
Thank you very much!
Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 17, 2011:
My pleasure!!! I just noticed you won some award for this hub...congratulations!!!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 07, 2011:
Knightheart, love never dies. And love from a cat can be the greatest kind of love because, like you said, it is unconditional. We as humans are so prone to judging each other, but animals don't judge us. They love us. My Grandma says that she believes animals are left over from the time when Adam and Eve were in paradise, and show how we all used to be so innocent. Animals are so innocent and that touches our heart so deeply.
I have really hoped that about heaven, too, because animals have such a wonderful purity about them.
What a beautiful kitty you were privileged to know and care for. She will always be a part of you. Take care, and thank you so much for dropping by.
Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 06, 2011:
Hi there. Thank you for your condolences. I don't think I will truly be over Specks' death as long as I live. She was such a special friend! Thank you for creating this hub. I know animals have emotions! No doubt in my mind at all. Specks always was so loving and affectionate. She followed me around like a dog and whenever anyone was sitting or sleeping, she would be right there. 99% of the time, she was with me since she lived me alone for a long time, but she loved everybody!
I miss her terribly, but pray I will be reunited with her someday. Such loving animals just can't go into oblivion!!!! God Bless you!!!!!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on May 02, 2011:
@KnightHeart, so sorry to hear that you lost your cat to cancer. I know that losing a pet can be such a loss, and hard to get over. I'm glad that this article resonated with you and your experiences. I, too, totally believe that animals have emotions. Take care!
Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 01, 2011:
There is no doubt in my mind that cats have emotions. My sweet Specs, who died 2 years ago from inoperable cancer loved unconditionally. I loved her totally and we were very close. I still miss her deeply, my sweet, cuddly, ball of fur. She was such an affectionate and loving kitty! She always was there to comfort me when I needed cheering up! When I had to say my last good-bye, I stayed with her until the very end. It was the hardest and saddest day of my life! I still get choked up when I think of her sweet, funny face and her antics! Thanks for this article. Unconditional love is very rare, but our animal companions have it instinctively!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 23, 2011:
LC, that is so cute! I love your coined word: cat-inality! So great to meet a fellow "cat lady!" Thank you for such a great comment!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 23, 2011:
Sharyn, I'm so glad you've seen it, too! I know cats are so full of love and affection!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 23, 2011:
S.John, there's something about having a cat, and getting to know him, that can turn the most indifferent person to cats, into a cat lover. It sounds like it happened to you! I sorry for the loss of your cat, but good for you, for reaching out and getting a new one. And thanks so much for the support. Take care!
Kathy from The beautiful Napa Valley, California on April 22, 2011:
YES! YES! YES! You've got it 100% right! Yes..I KNOW that cats can love, that it isn't just "instinct," and that it isn't merely to survive or when mating...cats express so many emotions, so much appreciation. I have many cats and love them all so much and see that they all have distinct, individual pers..no, catanalities. They show us affection and, you are so right, they give love to those humans who have earned it/deserve it. Cats know when we care for them, and they return the care and love. You are definitely a Cat Lady, just as I am. Thank you for a wonderful hub, PrairiePrincess!
Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on April 20, 2011:
I loved this! I also believe that cats feel love since I've witnessed it first hand. Thanks for such a great hub for cat lovers!
seanorjohn on April 20, 2011:
I will tweet this hub as agreed on the forums. My children persuaded us to get cats a few years ago. I always thought of myself as a dog person and never understood people who loved cats. Our first cat was adorable and I was absolutely heartbroken when I saw it run over by a speeding car. It took me years to get over thinking about it and the guilt. We now have 2 adorable cats who are sisters.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on April 13, 2011:
2besure, it was so heartwarming to watch them! Cats never cease to amaze me, too. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on April 10, 2011:
Great hub. That was so heart warming how JoJo and Shilo co-parented the kittens. I believe cats are wonderful and amazing creatures.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 30, 2010:
Tammy: Haha, that's cute about your Domino ... I wonder if it's his breed because my aunt had a Siamese cat that was quite unfriendly too us. I think they tend to be a bit prickly! And that is very cute about Collie ... that sounds kind of like Shiloh with Jo's babies.
Thanks for your comment about Jo ... that's interesting that you think she might have cataracts. Wow ... she does seem a bit dopey when it comes to seeing things, but is not totally blind. After we find homes for her kittens, we will be taking her to the doctor to be spayed and I will ask him then.
J.amie, that's so cute about your kittens, and I'm glad that you agree that they are capable of love. Take care!
j.amie from PA on November 30, 2010:
My kitties are very open with their expressions. One of them is quite capable of giving a dirty look, and the other gets very sad eyes if I've been away for a while. They all have their own unique personality for sure, and I do believe they love love love =0)
Tammy L from Jacksonville, Texas on November 29, 2010:
If my hub wasn't nominated for Hubnuggets, I'd definitely vote for this one. Anyway, I do believe animals love each other and humans as well. Except Domino; he doesn't like anybody and only lets me in the house if I've got a new supply of treats. Seriously though, Domino does show his affection in his own way.
The last time I saw an example of animal love came when one of my previous cats gave birth to a litter and my Collie would take care of the babies when Mama was gone. Mama came back and saw this dog with her babies and threw a hissy fit. The dog didn't fight back. She just got up and moped off with her head down. Mama cat hurt the dog's feelings.
Jo looks like she might have a cataract in her left eye.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 28, 2010:
Scribenet, thank you so much! And yes, it is hard to adopt them out, but I was very glad to know that they had very good homes ... both families were avid cat lovers, with one cat in the home already. Jo mourned for a few days for her kittens, and so did I! Thanks again for writing ...
Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on November 28, 2010:
Yes, I have seen the love a mother cat lavishes on her kittens and it is a wonder to behold. Sad also when the kittens have to be adopted out!
Enjoyed reading this Hub!
Congratulations on your Hubnugget nomination!
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 28, 2010:
Deborah Demander, thank you so much for your comment ... yes, they are very expressive! Take care.
Travel Man, nice to see you again, and thank you so much! I am glad you are enjoying your little darlings there giving you lots of love! Take care!
Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on November 27, 2010:
Cats are like to be cuddled. I , too have two playful kittens here with their mother (unfortunately their feline father died a month ago due to an accident). Mico and Mica are a delight to our family. They're especially attached to me and always seek warmth on my pajamas whenever I'm about to sleep at night. Congratulations on your nomination!
Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on November 27, 2010:
Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination.
Great pictures of your cats. They certainly are expressive.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 26, 2010:
ripplemaker, thank you so very much for this honour! My cats say "thank you," to for someone giving them this much love! Wow! I'm glad you can relate to this story ... it sounds like your teacher maybe shared a bit in class about her babies? It's hard for true cat lovers to shut up about their cats! Thanks so much and take care!
Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on November 26, 2010:
prairieprincess, you and your cats can all jump for delight because this hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets! Meow... :) I do believe that cats have emotions and they love too. I have a teacher in school who also has 3 cats and your stories made me smile because it is similar to hers. So do visit the Hubnuggets hub and cast your vote! http://bit.ly/e24X3R
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 11, 2010:
Hunter: Are you serious?? 21 Cats? Wow, that's amazing! As a true cat lover, though, I can't think it would be that bad!
LoveOurPlanet: I know, isn't it so sweet how they love each other? Five cats, too! It sounds like you love cats as much as I do! :))
LoveOurPlanet from Austin, Texas on November 10, 2010:
I can't help but see love when I see one of my cats (I have 5) washing another's face as they're snuggled up together!
Hunter21 on November 10, 2010:
i love cats and i have 21 of them, so i thought these were very cute
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 08, 2010:
Hey, thank you SJerZGirl ... nice to meet you! My family has been trying pin me down as a cat lady, and I've been firmly denying it, but just between me and you, I definitely am! :)
SJerZGirl on November 07, 2010:
From one cat lady to another, welcome to the Hub-berhood! I love your story about your cats.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 07, 2010:
I so much agree, Cathy!
candycathy on November 07, 2010:
I have a tiny little cat , she's the cutest thing. A cat shows a special kind of love , only that a feline could develop.
Sharilee Swaity (author) from Canada on November 01, 2010:
Thank you so much! I look forward to reading that Hub. Chico sounds like a special kitty that meant a lot to you. I know there are a lot of times I feel so moved by my cats, and how sweet and loving they are. Take care.
Flo Belanger from British Columbia, Canada on November 01, 2010:
I enjoyed your hub...cats are certainly capable of love. In fact, I wrote one of my hubs about the impact my cat Chico had on me and the unconditional love I learned from him. He was amazing and changed my life in many ways. They are such wonderful companions.
Do Cats Love Us? Science Says Yes!
It’s long been a kind of running joke in the popular media that cats don’t much care about their humans, and that as long as we feed them, they’re just fine. A spate of studies that came out a few years ago, most of which were not well designed and were even less well understood in the press, seem to confirm that.
“Science Confirms It: Cats Don’t Love Us” said one headline, describing a 2013 study that measured cats’ reactions to recordings of their owners saying their name. The cats simply looked for the source of the sound, and the researchers concluded that they just didn’t care that the sound was made by their owners. A 2015 study (the Washington Post headline was “Your cat might not really care about you, study suggests”) put cats alone in a room with a stranger or with their owner, and, because the cats did not respond the same way dogs and human babies did in the same experiment, concluded that the cats were not attached to their owners.
Testing cats’ attachment to humans by checking their response to recorded sounds (which they may not perceive the same way we do) or comparing them to other species has more flaws than I can enumerate in this short article. But those two studies got a lot of media attention, because they confirm a popular social stereotype.
Two more recent (and better designed) studies got a lot less media attention and found that cats care more about humans than they do about food, and really miss us when we’re gone.
What The Science Shows
One, by researchers at Oregon State University’s Human-Animal Interaction, looked at both shelter cats and owned cats. The cats got no food or attention for two and a half hours, and then were offered various stimuli, one at a time. In one session, a person (not the cat’s owner) spoke to the cats, and offered petting and a chance to play. In another, the cats could choose among food, a toy mouse with a shaker inside, or cloths scented with scents of catnip, another cat, or a gerbil. Then the cats were presented with all these things at once and got to pick what they wanted to interact with.
Less than half the cats chose the food, while exactly half chose the interaction with people. That was true for both the shelter cats and the owned cats. “Although it is often thought [that] cats prefer solitude to social interaction, the data of this study indicate otherwise,” the study authors wrote.
In the other study, done in Sweden, owned cats were left home alone for two periods—30 minutes and four hours. Owners were asked to behave as usual leaving and returning home. When their owners returned after four hours, all the cats purred more, stretched more, and interacted with their owners more than they had after 30 minutes. Most of the cats were free-fed, so anticipation of a meal was not a factor. “The increased level of social contact initiated by the cats after a longer duration of separation indicates a rebound of contact-seeking behavior, implying that the owner is an important part of the cat’s social environment,” the researchers wrote.
What does this mean for cat lovers? First of all, when your smug friends suggest your cat doesn’t care about you, you can tell them that science has proven that’s not true. But it also means you can’t leave your cat home alone for the weekend with a pile of cat food and an extra litter box. She will miss you—a lot.
Think about it: When you go away, your cat has no idea if you are ever coming home again. That’s especially true if you typically leave the house at 8 in the morning and come home at 6 in the evening. A few hours later, you could be gone for good. So in addition to concerns you might have about her physical health and wellbeing (if anything goes wrong, you wouldn’t be there to help), the possibility that she might snarf up all her food in a few hours and go hungry for the rest of the weekend, and the fact that her litter box is filling up with stuff that needs to be scooped, your cat is also stressing out because you’re not there.
Does this mean you can never go away? Of course not! While there’s no substitute for your presence, the first study showed that interactions with strangers also matter to cats. That means a cat sitter, a neighbor, a friend. Someone should look in on her at least twice a day, give her fresh food and water, scoop the box, and play with or pet or just sit down and talk to her—whatever level of interaction she craves. She’ll still miss you, but at least you’ll know she’s safe, and interaction with any human is better than nothing at all.
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.
Many wonder if cats feel love, but cat lovers already know the truth
Of course they do. Just don’t tell anyone! Cats have a reputation for being cold overlords, after all, and they worked hard to make them. But when you get hit by a cat, you know the hidden truth.
Cats definitely feel love. All the pecks, slow blinking and purring hugs undoubtedly prove the cat’s love! And for those who don’t believe it, a scientific study has the data to support the claim.
So the secret could simply be out. Cats aren’t the distant and distant beings many believe they are. Kittens are actually cuddly little bugs who love their people as much as we love them.
In the BBC2 documentary Cats v. Dogs: Which is Best? Moderators Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin examined the age-old question about cats or dogs and examined whether cats or dogs feel more love for their people.
But how do you measure love?
Like humans, cats and dogs also produce oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”.
“We have pretty good evidence that dogs actually love their humans,” said Dr. Paul Zak, the neuroscientist behind the love study. “Some small studies have shown that humans and their dogs release oxytocin when owners interact with their dogs.”
@ Bobthegoldenshorthair / Instagram
With this knowledge, Dr. Zak find out how much oxytocin cats and dogs produce when it comes to their humans.
To conduct the study, Dr. Zak twice the oxytocin levels in the saliva of 10 dogs and 10 cats. The first sample was taken 10 minutes prior to pet parent-animal play. A second sample of saliva was taken as soon as the game time was over.
So how did the furry result?
@ mooshi_cat / Instagram
As a basis, Dr. Zak: “When we see our spouse or our child, the levels in our bloodstream usually increase by 40 to 60 percent.”
Cats showed a 12% increase in oxytocin after playing with their human.
Dogs’ oxytocin levels increased 57.2%.
While dogs seem to love people more than cats, Dr. Zac, it was “a nice surprise to discover that cats produce some at all”.
@ pawsbabi / Instagram
This was the first time anyone had looked at oxytocin levels in cats, but the study found that “cats appear to be in contact with their owners, at least at times”.
But as we know, comparing cats and dogs is like comparing apples and oranges. Everyone has their own charm, and it is better to love them only for their many differences. Including the cat, their love must be kept under wraps!
Sorry kitten, your humans have run out of secrets. We say everyone that you love us!
@ francopants / Instagram
If You Love Cats, This May Be Why
If you're like me, you adore cats. Why do we find these creatures so irresistible?
Perhaps like me, you’ve owned a cat — or more likely, been owned by one. You know the joy that cats can bring, even when they’re being obnoxious. What is it about cats that captures our hearts and enslaves us through their charm?
What follows can also be applied to dogs.
These beautiful creatures have a rare quality that humans would do well to cultivate: a large capacity to receive affection. When a lovely cat saunters our way, it’s not easy to resist the impulse to stroke him or her, even when it’s not so wise. On a recent trip to Thailand, I spotted an irresistible cat in a café. I foolishly felt safe to approach her with an offer of affection. When she rolled on her back, I took this to mean that my advances were welcomed. But shockingly, she abruptly changed her mind and scratched me before I had time to withdraw. Perhaps this was a cat with an ambivalent attachment style.
As blood was flowing from my hand, the café owner offered a belated warning: “I meant to tell you she’s a feral cat and it’s best to keep your distance.” I replied, “Well, thanks for the warning, but she seemed so irresistible.” Next time, I’ll maintain better boundaries, but the incident made me wonder why some of us (or is it just me?) will expose ourselves to danger for the potential gratification of petting a darned cat?
One reason we may love to stroke these adorable creatures is because the rhythmic action of stroking their velvety fur feels good. It focuses our attention, as happens in meditation. But I’m convinced there’s more to it than that.
I believe that a major reason we love cats is because of an uncanny ability that few humans possess: they register our tactile presence in a deeply felt way. They really know how to let us in! They’re right there in the delectable moment receiving our touch.
Delighting in our physical presence, they may begin to purr and perhaps roll on their backs, exposing their vulnerability. As if to say, “I trust you. Give me some love and make me feel good.” Their gift to us is that they receive us deeply, without any troubling cognitions or disturbing memories of less savory moments, such as when we forgot to feed them or clean their litter box. They let all of that go. They’re just here with us right now.
Perhaps you’re blessed to have a partner who receives you in a deep way. What a gift to sense that your partner is really letting you in. But sadly, most of us have blocks to receiving deeply and freely. Perhaps past conflicts or traumas have muddied the waters. Or, we’ve been taught that giving is nobler than receiving and we believe that we’re selfish if we receive uninhibitedly.
Cats teach us that this ain't so. Most likely, we don’t judge cats as being selfish we relish how openly they let us in. Or, perhaps we think they're selfish, but we don't mind. Humans could use more healthy narcissism in regard to receiving people more deeply.
Research has shown that cats can be very healing for us. A 10-year research study suggests that cat owners were less likely to die of heart attacks than people who have never owned one. The latter group was 40 percent more likely to die from heart attacks and 30 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Other studies confirm that cats can lower our blood pressure and release dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress and improve immune functioning.
Cats can also help release oxytocin, which is associated with the feeling of being in love. As we know, love heals, and perhaps an important aspect of this healing is the bonding created by their ability to receive us deeply. I have fond memories of my now deceased cat slowly sauntering toward me and lying on my chest, purring. It’s a precious feeling that puts us into a relaxed state.
As expressed by Paul Zak, author of The Moral Molecule, this love bond may explain why “people spend thousands of dollars to treat a pet medically rather than euthanize it and simply get a new animal.”
If you’re fortunate to have an affectionate cat in your life, notice how he or she receives your affection. How do you feel inside when you’re being deeply received? Similarly, when someone who you like gives a hug or offers affection, experiment with letting it in. Be a cat. Get out of your head, take a deep, easy breath, and be mindfully present with how it feels in your body to receive a hug and affection from a loved one. Whether from a cat or human, letting in love just might heal you.
Deviant Art image by ClassicSonicSatAm
I was pleasantly surprised to
I was pleasantly surprised to read your blog. I have been a dog person and my fiancé is a cat person. I grew up with dogs and she with cats. When we first met both of my dogs had just passed away. They were 16 and 17 years old respectively. I moved in with my fiancé who had 4 cats. By the way, I appreciated you mentioning early on that many of the same benefits received from cats can be had from dogs as well. These are the most well behaved attention seeking animals I have ever been around. There are times when it is asked of me "why can't you be more like the cats and just receive my love and attention". After reading this blog I will try a little harder.
So nice to hear your response
So nice to hear your response to my article. Yes, dogs and cats exude a healing kind of affection. We can learn a lot from them.
Be well and thanks for writing,
How cats respond to us
You're overly complicating things. Cats are mucgh like us--and most traits that we perceive in them are actually traits that we possess. Are cats selfish and self-absored? So are we. Are cats judgemental relative to their own interests and desires? So are we. the list goes on and on.
So why do we form such deep bonds to our feline friends, in spite of our own selfish perspective that would have us view them as exploitive manipulators of our love for them?
Obviously because that myth is false. Were cats that selfish and manipulative apart from any other qualities, we humans would never have bonded with them in the first place.
The simple fact of the matter is that cats are much like us--with one important distinction. They are just as capable of love as any of us, but because they operate on a different millieu than us the love that they express towards us is unreserved and non judgemental in our terms. If a cat expresses love to you, it is 100% genuine from our perspective. No hidden agenda--to qualifications or conditions--only a 100% genuine response tro those who take the time and trouble to love them.
This is completely different from the qualified and conditional expression of love in which most humans think they love one another. When humans are completely vulnerable and trusting to other humans out of a desire to love the other, the object of their love is just as likely to perceive such as a sign of weakness as to truly appreciate such for what it is. Not so cats. Yes, they accept our love--but they unconditionally return that love within the context of their species.
Dogs love us too, but dogs are driven by an instinct alien to us and most other species. If you want a more objective evaluation of any true loving instincts within you, look to cats. If you want to express love honestly and wholeheartedly, and hope to receive genuine, non-judgemental, non exploitative responses, look to cats.
What genuinely honest, loving, and wonderful creatures they are!
I'm a cat lover and really
I'm a cat lover and really appreciate your article. I lost my dear sweet Feisty 3 months ago. She was not just my pet, but my best friend. I could always count on her meeting me at the door after a long day at work. She gave me unconditional love and I still miss her everyday.
Sad to hear about your cat. I can relate. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. They are beautiful creatures, yes?
Can Animals Love?
Whether animals can experience romantic love is unknown. But there is some evidence that they are capable of experiencing the same range of emotions as we can. The brains of many mammals are surprisingly similar to the human brain.
Take as an example the brain of a cat. A cat’s brain is small compared to ours, occupying only about one percent of their body mass compared to about two percent in an average human. But size doesn't always matter. Neanderthals, the hominids that went extinct more than twenty thousand years ago, had bigger brains than Homo sapiens, but they probably weren’t smarter than the Homo sapiens that beat them in the survival game. Surface folding and brain structure matter more than brain size. The brains of cats have an amazing surface folding and a structure that is about ninety percent similar to ours. This suggests that they could indeed be capable of experiencing romantic love. But we will probably never know for sure.
There is one thing we do know: Your dog or cat doesn’t regard you merely as a food dispenser. Pets as well as zoo animals form strong attachments to their caregivers. As attachment is a form of love, animals are indeed capable of loving their caregivers.
Dogs have been reported to love their masters so deeply that they mourn their death for many years. Such was the case of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier in Edinburgh, Scotland. He served as Constable John Gray’s companion, until Gray’s death in 1858. After Gray’s funeral, Bobby was spotted sitting on top of his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard. The loyal police hound is reported to have spent every night at his master’s grave until his death fourteen years later.
The attachment of dogs to their owners has been confirmed in a study conducted by Daniel Mills, a British specialist in clinical animal behavior. The study used an adaptation of Ainsworth’s strange situation paradigm, in which the researchers observed the reaction of dogs and cats in response to their owners and strangers. He found that securely attached dogs tended to behave similarly to infants when their owners left, whereas cats tended not to do that. If anything, cats tended to have more of an avoidant attachment style, often ignoring their owners and happily greeting strangers.
These results, of course, do not show that cats are incapable of attachment. While cats no doubt tend to have a more avoidant attachment style than dogs, most of us know from anecdotal evidence that there can be enormous differences in how attached cats are to their owners. My own two cats, Bertrand Russell and Roderick Chisholm (named after philosophers like my other cats) are undoubtedly anxiously attached, clinging tenaciously to me to the point of annoyance.
While it seems relatively uncontroversial that dogs can be attached to their owners, and that the owners assume the role of caregiver, there is also evidence that dogs can temporarily take over the role of caregiver. Dogs seem to be attuned to the emotions of their owners and are able to act as a loyal companion in times of need.
In a study published in the September 2012 issue of Animal Cognition, University of London researchers found that dogs were more inclined to approach a crying person than someone who was talking or humming, and that they responded to crying with submissive behavior. According to the researchers, this contrast indicates that the dogs’ response to weeping wasn’t simply the result of curiosity but was based on a primitive understanding of human distress. These findings indicate that when a dog comforts his sorrowful owner, the caregiver-recipient roles are sometimes reversed. The dog temporarily becomes the caregiver, which suggests a more sophisticated attachment pattern in dogs than in infants.
These results have also been confirmed with brain scans. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, used fMRI neuroimaging to test the brains of dogs. This is not simple feat. fMRI scans only work if the participants lie completely still, which dogs normally aren’t capable of. However, Berns trained his dogs to lie still in the tight compartment of the scanner, which made the brain imaging feasible. The results were astonishing. Berns’ lab team found increased activity in regions of their brain associated with attachment, empathy and a theory of mind in response to their owners. A theory of mind is a belief system about what others think and want that is continually updated. So, dogs apparently wonder what their owners are thinking about.
Animals also seem capable of experiencing attachment love for each other. The awe-inspiring story of Tika and Kobuk, two malamutes who had been companions for years, testifies to this. Together the two dogs had bred and raised eight litters of puppies. But Kobuk was a bit of a bully. He would eat Tika’s food and shove her away if he got the chance. He would also attempt to steal away any attention people gave her. But the bullying came to a complete hold when Tika developed cancer in her leg. Kobuk’s behavior changed entirely. He let Tika sleep on the bed, while he rested on the floor. He groomed her face and neck and would not leave her side. Tika’s leg eventually had to be amputated. In the beginning it was quite a challenge for Tika to walk on three legs. When she stumbled and fell Kobuk would try to help her. He even saved Tika’s life when she was going into shock during her recovery from the amputation. Kobuk was barking to wake up the owner, who rushed Tika to the hospital. Thanks to Kobuk’s attention and love, Tika survived. Kobuk continued to care for Tika while she was still recovering. But once Tika had fully recovered and had learned to walk on three legs, Kobuk was back to his old behavior.
Animals also sometimes form attachment relationships with members of other non-human species. The BBC documentary Animal Odd Couples features several unusual attachment relationships, among others that between Anthony, a giant lion, and Riley, a little coyote. When Anthony and Riley were brought to “Keepers of the Wild” animal sanctuary, they were only about a month old. They immediately bonded. They enjoyed playing and grooming each other. When they arrived at the sanctuary, they were the same size but that quickly changed. The lion rapidly outgrew the little coyote. Despite their extremely different physique, their early bond continued into adulthood.
Attachment love is not restricted to mammals. In his book Mind of the Raven biologist Bernd Heinrich argues that since ravens have long-term mates, they must feel a form of attachment for each other. Otherwise it is difficult to explain what keeps the couple together for a lifetime.
Although not all birds mate for life, many do. Brant geese are no exception. The BBC documentary features a male Brant goose who has chosen a forty-five-year-old female Aldabra tortoise as his soul mate. He chases away anyone who tries to get near her, ensuring that she gets to eat her crisp lettuce without any interference. The hefty female tortoise contently puts up with his protection and care, in fact she truly seems to enjoy it. A truly kooky couple.