Lenny, a feral kitten, learned everything from humans

We humans love our cats, but do they love us?

Baby Kitten Lenny learns to play
Baby Kitten Lenny learns to play

We love our cats, but do they love us? We cat lovers know they do. They love us just as much as we love them, maybe even more. They give us unconditional love.

If our cats were incapable of love, they could not love us unconditionally.

images_heartWith Valentine’s Day and love taking center stage this week, Cupid is busy aiming those arrows, replacing hate, animosity, and loneliness with a renewed passion for someone or something. Valentine’s Day is for lovers and a whole lot more. There’s more than the lightening bolt you feel when that someone special walks into the room, and you fall madly in love at first sight.

That’s sexy, exciting, and the making of many books and movies. However Valentines Day is a day to celebrate our love with those that have stood by us, through thick and thin, over the years: our parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, and our pets.

There’s no doubt that serious cat people truly love their cats, but the question is, do they love us back. The skeptics will say cats are just animals. They aren’t capable of feeling emotions.

Anecdotally, there’s story after story that says the skeptics are wrong.

Paws knows first hand that cats have feelings. If they didn’t, then:

  • Why would they mourn the loss of their litter-mate or their best human friend to the point where they get depressed, stop eating, drinking, and in extreme cases, die?
  • How would they know we needed their warmth and comfort, and snuggle in our lap in our darkest hours of misery and grief?
  • Why would they sense that we are lonely, and need a friend sitting beside us in front of the television set?
  • How would they know we’re lonely, depressed, rejected?
  • How would they know their antics would bring a laugh, or a smile to our face, no matter what the outside world was bringing us?
  • Why would they want to share their joy by bringing that mouse to our front step so we can celebrate their success.

Kitty friends foreverSo what does this thing called love mean. We turn to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
that defines love as”

  • • An intense feeling of deep affection.
  • • To feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.

On the other hand, Wikipedia defines love as a variety of different feelings, states and attitudes ranging from loving a person such as one’s mother, to loving a meal or something else we truly enjoy, to strong attachment, attraction and emotion. It also defines love as universal and spiritual in demonstrating ‘unselfish, loyal and benevolent concerns for the good of another, and may also describe compassionate actions towards humans, one self, or animals.’

Ancient Greeks identified four forms of love: kinship or familiarity (storge), friendship (philia), sexual and/or romantic desire (eros), and self-emptying or divine love (agape).

images-cupidCandy, flowers, cards with hearts and doves and Cupid are all associated with Valentines Day. We find that Cupid is also connected with love. Coming to us from Greek and Roman mythology, he is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus, or the Greek counterpart is Eros. St. Valentine is considered the patron of lovers and especially of those unhappily in love. The feast day became a lovers’ festival in the 14th century, most likely connected to pagan love festivals and fertility rites celebrated in mid-February.

All this give us to give pause, and think about what love really is. It really is all over the map, which gives credence to love being beyond us – something in the universe that’s spiritual, mythical, almost impossible to define. That said, there’s no doubt, our pets share that bond with us. They do love us.

If we don’t believe our pets love us, then how can so much research be devoted to the human-animal bond, pointing out how beneficial a cat or dog’s unconditional love is to us humans. The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI) is a national, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the positive role animals play in the health and well-being of people, families and communities. HABRI, in partnership with Purdue University, has also created a comprehensive online research center, HABRI Central.

According to HABRI  the bond between animals and humans has extensive and beneficial psychological and physiological outcomes for both – not just us humans but for our pets as well.

The bond helps people both physically and mentally. It helps with depression, lowering blood pressure, and reducing anxiety, and more. ‘HABRI says, ‘It’s been found that children who observe animals learn the importance of responsibility and how to be nurturing. Humans also feel a general sense of support from animals as well and have been perceived to be happier and healthier in the presence of animals.’

‘Animals also benefit from their relationship with humans. It’s been found that companionship and social support helps pets and animals live longer, healthier lives in addition to the type of quality care they would otherwise not receive.’

Do you think you cat, or yes, in this case, Paws will extend this discussion to dogs, and even horses – loves you, as much or even more, than you love them? Please share your thoughts.

2 responses to “We humans love our cats, but do they love us?”

  1. Sharon S. Avatar
    Sharon S.

    This is a wonderful story. Yes, I think my 3 cats love me… in their own feline way. They come to cuddle on the sofa without my prompting and they curl up next to me in bed even though I’ve never asked them to join me. They even give me head bumps (sort of a high-five) when we look each other in the eye. I’ve always been a dog person, but my 3 guys have won me over….with their love.

    1. BJ Avatar

      The kitties do communicate through their eyes. I’ve never had them do the high 5’s, but maybe we should work on that. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.