Tuesday, October 02, 2012

How I know cats can love

Cosette

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not making me her pastime more than I make her mine?
Michel de Montaigne

Cosette likes to be massaged all over. Especially her head and tummy. Sometimes she even purrs in anticipation. 

Often when I'm lying in bed reading, she settles down next to me and reaches for me with her paw to signal she wants attention. If she doesn't get it immediately (which she usually does) she curls up and rests her head against me.

These appear to be loving gestures, but of course they could be no more than peremptory demands for sense gratification. They are not evidence that cats can love. But there is other evidence.

It occurred to me the other day that there is nothing I can do for her in the way of stimulation that she couldn't do for herself. Cats are liquidly supple. She could caress her own head, knead her back or stomach. 

Why should she so crave my touch? I can think of only one reason: she wants the knowledge (and for a cat, touch is absolute knowledge) of connection with someone close to her. Another being to whom she is deeply attached. 

Am I stretching a point to say that she loves? Some might think so. I don't.


7 comments:

YIH said...

I'm absolutely sure they can love. I noticed you didn't mention that Matisse is that persistent for attention. It's quite possible that he's more 'bonded' to Mrs. Darby.
I live with three cats myself, although they are my roommates' they have 'bonded' to separate people (even though they were introduced as 4-week old kittens to all of us at once).
Scamp: A 'tiger' but darker blond stripes on lighter, is the most gregarious, seeks and gets attention from anyone.
Spooky: A cat in your basic black. Favors the Mr. (I live with a married couple).
Rascal: Also a good luck black cat (neither have white hair, even the whiskers are black). Definitely 'my' cat, loves to curl up on my lap, either lays his head on my right forearm or snuggles his nose into my elbow then quickly falls asleep.
Good thing I'm not superstitious or I'd have a real problem ;)
To keep this 'on topic' (for a change) I came across this: 6 Adorable Cat Behaviors With Shockingly Evil Explanations.
I was surprised by the #1: Presenting somewhat alive (or dead) prey. I always thought it meant ''HEY! Check it out! Aren't you proud of me? I'm a good kitty, I killed prey! And now I present the proof!''. And I say ''Aww, you're a good kitty, I'm so proud of you!'' and pet and love up on him/her.

Rusty Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rusty Mason said...

I grew up with lots of animals -- dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens, and cows. I've always taken it for granted that animals have feelings and emotions, and that they do love us, albeit in a more limited way than (most) humans can. It's so obvious to our family that we would never even think to question it. I saw an article the other day on a respected Catholic living website that said that dogs only lick us because they want the salt and oil from our skin, not because they are showing real affection. Really? I couldn't believe it, I thought they were joking. It makes me sad to think that some people are completely missing this fulfilling connection to animals. They are missing an important part of their soul. I am always suspicious about any social advice from such people.

YIH said...

@Rusty:
I too grew up with lots of animals. Like that pretty gal in The Beverley Hillbillies I think 'critters' can 'bond' (and fall in love with) Humans.
But I still think this is funny! And BTW, even if its Cat or Deer. I prefer beef myself, it tastes better and is easier to cook. Venison takes longer to cook and is harder to make tender. And I have no clue how to prepare a cat. AND I LIKE IT THAT WAY!!!
And I really don't like chopsticks either, I was introduced to them as an 10yo kid and I know how to cook and eat with them AND PREFER NOT TO!
Have you tried to fry an egg using only chopsticks? A flat heated surface, better use a lot of oil.

y said...

BTW, I'm a very curious person. So I'll ask you, which would you rather have, like your cat, blue eyes or the ability to drive a car?

Stogie said...

I do believe cats can love. I say that after owning several. I loved them and they loved me.

Rick Darby said...

YIH,

Matisse has a different personality. We adopted him as a kitten and he was apparently well treated in the shelter, so he has never known deprivation. He's not unfriendly but doesn't seem to need mutual affection in the way Cosette does. Cosette was separated from her original owner (we don't know why; sometimes cats wind up in a shelter when their owner dies) and was mourning when we got her. She seems pretty secure now but still is far more interested in companionship than Matisse.

I can't believe there are people who won't adopt a black cat because they are "bad luck." But it's a good, simple screening technique. People that stupid shouldn't be allowed to adopt any living thing.