Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Do cats love us?
Eons ago, I found the dolittler website and followed her and enjoyed her posts. Then she combined her website with PetMD.com and I read her there. She has since moved on, and now Dr. Jennifer Coats is doing the "Fully Vetted" column. I haven't been particularly thrilled with her choice of posts. They seem generic and almost safe.. aka I don't learn all that much. But yesterday she posted Are Our Pets Capable of Loving Us?
Her conclusion - because she defines love " as a willingness to put someone else’s best interests in front of your own" - that her horse and her cat do not love her, but her dog does.
Because her cat won't jump out and protect her from some random noise, it must not love her like her dog loves her.. and her horse certainly won't protect her, and in fact has hurt her when startled.. She believes her horse sees her as a source of good things and thus is happy to see her, but because she doesn't see her horse protect her, her horse can't love her.
I feel a bit sorry for her.
Especially since animals have the same part of their brains active in regards to emotions that we have.. and since animals have brains that are wired similarly but different, you have to realize that a cat recognizes that the human is in far less danger from an errant noise in the woods then it is. The fact that the cat is willing to be out and about in an area with a human to me shows a great deal of love and trust.
Case in point. twenty years ago, I had a kitty who went outside and he enjoyed it. When my husband and I would go out walking, he would follow us. I could tell the moment he reached the edge of his territory, he would cry to us but follow us as we went. He was clearly agitated the entire time, but would follow. He would visibly relax once we were back in his safe zone. Was he agitated because he was uncomfortable - yes. Was he following us because he knew we would protect him, sure.. but was he warning us to go back where it was safe - I tend to think that is the most likely option.. I mean prey animals don't make noise when they are uncomfortable in their surroundings... they don't want to be noticed.
Or the cat who saves her kittens from a burning building because she knows she is capable of helping them when they aren't capable of helping themselves.. or the blind kitty who fends off a burglar.. or the cats who wakes up the family when the house is on fire? or other heroic stories and since I know of no horse stories.. I can only share the ones that Google has.
Do my cats love me. You betcha. Do they love my electric blanket.. I am sure they do.. I mean I do.. why wouldn't they? :) Love is so much more then the obvious.. the sacrifice of self.. it is in those little every day moments. The choice they make to be with you, where ever you might be, despite the fact that they were comfy when you decided to move.. If you are waiting for grandiose gestures - well except for the occasional dramatic rendition of "YOU HAVEN'T FED ME IN AGES!!" - you aren't going to get that from a cat..Just as some humans have never been capable of the grandiose gestures, but that doesn't mean they love you any less.
and as for the dog... Being pack animals, I bet they know that everyone needs to respond to a threat to the pack for the best outcome. I don't think the dog is doing it FOR you, so much as attempting to do it WITH you, because that is how the pack should work. Again, not to say a dog isn't brave and doesn't love you, and will protect you, but his general actions are with in his nature.. It is what they do for the safety of the pack. (but then again, I am not a dog person, so feel free to correct me on this one if I have it wrong)