Can A Cat Totally Substitute A Person?

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.

Cat Companion Substitute

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?

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Can A Cat Totally Substitute A Person? — 18 Comments

  1. I don’t think every person needs a partner, some of us have tried it and are much happier without.
    I do agree though that people need people, but not necessarily to live with, we humans have the ability to go out amongst other people working or socially if we are lonely.
    Living with cats is very fulfilling, they are wonderful companions, but it can be stressful too because we are responsible for their welfare, just as we are for a child’s welfare. We can’t explain to a cat why he has to go on a journey and see a vet and it feels wrong to have the power to make him do what he really wouldn’t choose to do himself, but we have to do it for his own good.
    I don’t look upon cats as safety nets for people who have failed in human relationships, some people just love to have cats in their lives whether they live on their own or not.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Ruth – lots of good points that I agree with.

    It depends on the individual makeup.

    Some people can’t live with other people. They are very unhappy with another person living in their space yet do well living either alone or with cats.

    They get their socializing done outside the home and are much better off this way.

    Others need a person living in their space or they become terribly lonely.

    It’s like anything else in life – you like something or you don’t.

    I’ve been in both situations.

    Previous to my marriage, I went through several roommates that made me miserable. It was usually a one year lease and I usually moved afterward and got a different roommate. This went on for about 10 years. I only had a very small handful of roommates I could tolerate or actually enjoyed having them in my living space (to an extent).

    There were also times that I had no human roommate but did have cat companions. I did very well that way. So having just cats in my living space was a good thing for a time.

    Since my marriage I have very much grown accustomed to and appreciate the companionship of my spouse. I would now be very lonely living alone – even with cats.

    I would probably adjust eventually and maybe even end up preferring it once again, but it would be tough for a while in the beginning.

    I think that some people would do well having only cats in their living space while others would need a human companion.

    Everyone is different in this regard. However, socializing can be done outside of the house or you could invite some good friends over each week for a human socializing dose.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • I think you are saying people adapt and get used to situations. Then change is hard. I still believe that people are programmed to be with people but relationships are often so dysfunctional that being alone with cats is pleasant. It is pleasant but on a permanent basis is it as good as the right human companion? People will adjust to doing without human companionship. It is compromise. And chasing around socialising to cover loneliness is no substitute. Sometimes I believe cats are a like a drug for some people. They provide company etc. They are almost medicinal.

      • Some people can’t find the pefect human companion but whether a person lives with another human or not, it makes no difference to someone who loves having cats in their life, whether living alone or with someome else.
        Having cats adds an extra dimension to life, cats aren’t a substitute for a human companion for real cat lovers and it’s wrong that they are sometimes used that way by by some lonely people then cast aside when they find a ‘real’ companion.
        Just like they are sometimes substitute babies until the ‘real’ babies come along.
        Cats have feelings of rejection too!

  3. Great topic. Well I’m 36 and live alone with 3 cats after having had a bunch or relationships, some short and some long, and to be honest, I haven’t been happier than I am now.

    Infact, at the end of the day I look forward to going home to my cats and I almost never plan to do something with friends after work. Usually when I do go out I just wish I had decided to stay home. The other day I went to friends art opening and left after 20mins because, even though it was a nice opening, I wasn’t getting much out of standing around having conversation and I just wanted to go home and be with my cats.

    I’m definitely not normal, or extreme that way, but in the earlier part of my life I socialised so much and went out so much – when I lived in London that’s all there was to do for a young person, and I had a great time but now I have had enough. Furthermore, I have just come out of a long relationship and I am going through a period where I am much happier living alone and doing things at my own pace. Relationships are work and sometimes its nice to take a break. But for some people its very hard to be alone.

    Most people I know couldn’t handle going a week without going out in search of some kind of social something or other. Living in London, the people are so diverse and interesting and the social life is really the best and when you move to a small city like Toronto or Zurich it’s just not the same.

    There are interesting people wherever you go but going out to parties after living in London just isn’t very satisfying. I’m sure New yorkers would feel the same. Anyway, I never like having to totally rely on people to be happy and was always in search of nature. Now I live somewhere nice and small and I do my own thing and I don’t feel at all lonely with my cats.

    Like Rudolph I am quite happy with my cats. In fact with another person staying over I am always reminded of how much more stable my cats are as friends than people are. They don’t have expectations of me which are unreasonable and they are always there for me – as am I for them. Its very satisfying. I don’t believe a person needs to be in a relationship with another human to not be lonely or unhappy – I think that is simply the case for some people.

    • Great comment. I guess the “hard wired” theory it wrong. But I wonder if the reason why you are completely content with your current situation is because you “have just come out of a long relationship“. It is a kind of respite. Perhaps in 6 months you’ll feel different.

      People are adaptable like cats. You can get used to being alone with your cats. But is that the ideal?

      • Actually I would say it is the ideal – but is it possible. In other words, hopefully I will remain fine like this. Then I won’t need to further complicate my life. The question is as you said though – maybe in 6 months I will feel different. Actually it’s now been 2 years and I haven’t wanted to be in a relationship yet, for even a second. Maybe in 6 years that will change, not 6 months, according to my time scale.

        • You know what, I envy you. If you can make this work permanently life is better and certainly simpler. Your cats will benefit too. You have the luckiest cats in Switzerland because they won’t find a better caretaker/guardian than you.

      • Also I have a theory about the average 9 years. After 7 people naturally grow apart and it takes them 2 years to actually get apart if they are married. Perhaps less if they are not. Marriage should be for money reasons or reasons of getting a visa to be in a country or other such thing of security, I think. If you have enough money and your girlfriend does and both of you are healthy and have some time ahead of you – and you are both in a country legally without an end to that, then I think there is no point in getting married, especially if you have a child.

        • I don’t think marriage is suited to the human race. However, a strong family unit is important for the children. I think about 50% of the UK’s couples are not married. It is growing trend. People have decided that marriage does not work. Do humans have a high failure rate on relationships compared to other animals? It seems so but not sure.

  4. Hello Michael,seems my way of living gave you an idea on a topic of “Living alone with cats”. Michael, i don’t live totally alone but have my house-keeper Sabina.Dias for human companionship and normal human chatting who also looks after my house when i am on short tours.I do socialize outside my home, a big fan of “Rock & Pop Music” and plays , never to miss a good prominent rock concert or theater in Mumbai city.Will be attending the “Guns & Roses” concert on Saturday(9-12-2012) in Mumbai. Its just that at home i love being to myself and indulge in reading and writing, the life of a solitary monk in the house. I was engaged once in 1989 , the relationship didn’t last long and since then i am the eternal bachelor, alone in my house with pets and my house-keeper Sabina as a human companion.Honestly, i prefer permanent relationships with my pets than with a spouse in the form of marriage.Love living this way, definitely never ever lonely.

    • Interestingly – the more people who choose to live alone the less lonely they will be because they can hang out with other people like them. When somebody is in a relationship it is often the case that they are consumed by it and sort of disappear a bit. If in the future people don’t fear not being in a relationship then i think everything will balance out and people who are single will no longer have to consider the myth that ‘they will forever be alone until the die alone’. Sometimes I feel far more lonely in a relationship simply because the girl I am with doesn’t understand me or i feel like I have not been givewn space to be myself, unfairly. Then I feel totally alone and stuck and I go in the other room and cuddle my cat and thank her for being there for me in even the worst of times 🙂

      • I think you have the correct mentality. I think I have the wrong mentality. I am more of a hermit type because I have been hammered enough by life – get me out ;). Although I have just been to a club (Tuesday 4th Dec. 2012) that I am a member of. I have to say I am not totally convinced that a cat can completely substitute another person. This is a complicated topic though. Ultimately it is about people. And people are complicated. Cats aren’t.

        • I think Marc hit on the real issue. In relationships with humans, there is a tendency to have expectations of each other, often unrealistic expectations. That breeds judgement which ultimately leads to discontentment. Think about how we are with our cats. They just get to be who they are. It is easy to trust them to just be happy to hang out with you. We don’t worry about their values, or politics. Cats don’t ask us to change. (Tho they do train us!). Imagine being in a human relationship where mutual admiration and simple cooperation was the order of every day. It could work.

  5. Saw this amazing lady on “Natgeo T.V” and this is the written article on Lynea.Lattanzia on “Daily Mail”.:- .Lynea.Lattanzia was once was a beauty queen later married a millionaire and lead a jet-setting life.She later divorced her husband and since the last 20 years has devoted her entire life to cats!Today a total “CAT-LADY”, living with 700 cats on her 12 acre land in California.The daily upkeep costs of 700 cats amounts to approx 45,000 U.S $’s/Day!Seems, sometimes certain personal changes in one’s life can lead people to different vocations, hobbies or philanthropy. As for Lynea.Lattanzia, she is the true “CAT PHILANTHROPIST”, a life dedicated to cats.

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