Of course, the answer to the question in the title depends on the person. However, I believe that people are hard wired to be social. People need people. A person needs a partner. On that basis the answer is no, a cat cannot totally substitute a person. Also, I think that it is fair to say that women are more about to make the “cat substitution” work than men.
I got this idea for a post from Rudolph, a most welcome and well travelled regular visitor who lives in Mumbai, India. Rudolph says that he does not feel lonely living alone with his Persian cats. Rudolph is a writer so I guess he spends lots of time at the computer with his Persians by his side. It is quite hard to beat that, as a way of life.
But can it be better if you have the right person for company as well? A relationship with a cat is very beneficial. A cat does ward off loneliness. However, my personal view is that a cat cannot substitute the company of a person.
Obviously I have to qualify that sentence by saying the companion person has to be decent and the right person for you. The whole argument turns on that point, in fact.
Cats are almost always good for you. A person who likes cats will be able to live with almost any cat. Whereas it is mightily difficult to find a person that one can happily live with and keep the relationship on a stable footing. Why is that?
Why do marriages last for an average of 9 years in the UK while most human to cat relationships last until either the cat or the person dies? Yes, some people do abandon their cat. But cats very rarely abandon their human caretaker.
What I am getting at is that cats are far more reliable companions and the relationship we have with them is in general more solid than our relationships with other people. It is the human who has the fragile character and who is more demanding, probably seeking the impossible. Cats are more accepting.
Humans are headless orphans chasing around for something, anything to make life meaningful. Humans are orphaned from their roots. They have distanced themselves from nature and live in an artificial world of their own making that does not satisfy them – a world of quiet desperation.
But…despite that criticism of people and the difficulties we have with people as companions, as mentioned, I still don’t believe a cat can totally substitute a person as a companion provided the person is the right one. For some disastrous reason people are so often unable to sustain a balanced and stable long term relationship. It is a human dilemma and a human failing, which is when the companion cat steps in.
Is the cat sometimes a kind of safety net to catch the victim of a failed human-to-human relationship?