How Generous Is Your Cat?

Generous Cat

Generous Cat. Photo by carolyn.will.

This is a test to find out how generous your cat is. This is a first on the internet. However it is experimental and not entirely serious.  Generosity is a human concept. The dictionary definition of generous is: “willing and liberal in giving away one’s money, time, etc.” (Free Dictionary).

For people, generosity is provided in the form of money and/or time.

We know that domestic cats form friendships. These can be close and cats that are friends will lie next to each other and groom each other.

Cats don’t have money. They have plenty of time. One classic and obvious way that a cat can give something of value to another cat is to groom that cat. It is giving away a cat’s time to another cat without regard to a reward. Or is their a self-interest motivation in doing this? That is important because if a cat grooms another in self-interest it is not an act of generosity.

Our cats see us as friendly cats – more than that – probably as a relative (mother) and close friend. They will lie down next to us all night sometimes. Charlie just did this. I am very slightly allergic to him so my nose is slightly bunged up in the morning! That isn’t the point.

In the morning when be wakes up he does his bathroom stuff – conscientious self-grooming. When I am near him when he is grooming I put my hand over an area where he has over-groomed to stop hum grooming that spot.

Charlie will then groom my hand. He will lick it about 2-5 times. Not much. But it is a modestly generous act by a fellow cat (he thinks I am a cat). It feels like a gift from him to me.

That is the test. Does your cat lick your hand (or face) if you put it near him especially when he or she is self-grooming? And if so how much grooming does he do? At least when a cat is grooming himself he is in the mood to lick and be generous and lick either another cat or his human companion.

I would argue that if a cat licks you voluntarily it is an act of generosity and a gift. It is one of only a few ways a cat can give to us directly . How generous is your little furry companion?


Original photo on Flickr

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How Generous Is Your Cat? — 11 Comments

  1. Yes both our cats will give us a couple of licks if we put a hand near where they are grooming as if to say there that’s you done, now can I get back to the job in hand lol
    I love it when they lean into us too, as we put Jo’s food down to him he always presses a thank you on us.
    Both also give us a featherlight kiss on the cheek, a mere touch of warm breath, but nonetheless it feels like a loving kiss.
    I know the golden rule is not to put your face too close to a cat incase they feel threatened, but our own cats are an exception as they know we would die rather than ever threaten or hurt them but if one day it was a bite rather than a kiss well it would be our fault, not theirs.

  2. I think cats can be very generous. With their meows toward us when we enter a room, choosing to sit next to, or on us, or when they favor us with a loving head rub against our leg. I think this is very generous compared to my mom’s cat Fluffy. The only time she was nice was when she was pregnant and she certainly wasn’t generous with her love. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

    Wish I could be around more. Knee deep in math and religion classes. Lot’s of work.
    Cheers

    • Interesting that you said your Mum’s cat was nice and generous to you when she was pregnant. When I lived in central London a neighbour always kept his cat pregnant and one reason was that she was better behaved. This seems bad thinking to me. Maybe a cat’s hormones makes them better behaved when pregnant but it would better if a cat’s behavior was made better in a different way – improved environment perhaps? I don’t know. There are lots of reasons for a cat behaving “badly”. Sometimes cats are damaged psychologically at an early age.

  3. Yellow cat is the most generous cat I’ve ever known. But not to me! After four years, she will still only give me a quick sniff of my hand before backing away, though I do get a slow blink regularly. But she is most generous to her companion, Shadow. A domestic cat (once feral kitten) that technically belongs to a neighbor, but he really lives and eats here with Yellow cat. She will groom him for an hour. She follows him three cat-lengths behind him all day. She is happiest when he is around. He never reciprocates! It is a one way street with them.

    Bigfoot, my bedroom cat, is generous, but also greedy. He’ll sleep with me through the night, stretched out leaning against me, but I must wake up at least three times a night and give him a full body rub. Sometimes he will even bite my arm to wake me up. He is my reading cat also. Lays on my legs when I’m sitting in my reading chair.

    Marvin is a marvel. He is generous with everyone. Mostly with head-bumps. He weaves in and out of your legs like a machine. He so wants to curl up with Daisy but she won’t have it, so he settles for a hand on her paw. He also licks her ear. He is the head-bumpingest cat I’ve ever seen. When he gets going with rubbing and kneading, he drools. His eyes are half closed like he’s in a meditative state. It is hilarious to watch.

    I think cats are generous just with their graceful beauty. Every stretch, every pose is so beautiful to look at. It is like a feast for the eyes and soul. Better than money!

    dw

    • I find the yellow cat story interesting. She grooms Shadow but not you. Perhaps she recognises that you are a human and not a cat – one of them… 🙂 She only reserves her generosity for one of her kind. I see head butts as a friendly act. I see grooming another cat as an act of close friendship. But there is no science on that. Your cats are lucky to have you.

  4. Lilly is very generous towards the kittens and to me ..well I would get a few licks. Sometimes she has given me much more but usually not. One of the kittens, Molly, I can tell she will be very generous because she has a natural instinct to lick almost as soon as I brush her with my hand. The other kitten is a month younger, about 4-5months old now, and I don’t think she has ever licked me but she is starting to change and become a bit cuddly in her calm downtime. Otherwise she is hyperactive or sleeping. I have yet to see if she will become generous. I know one cat who is so generous she will scratch a hole in your chin. She’s so sweet. She must lick you if you give her a few pets. She will actually hold your hand still so she can lick you. Then you take turns. She’s amazing that way.

  5. Monty generous? I’ll put it this way. His food is his food and my food is his food. If I am napping and he wants to go out, he will keep jumping up on me and giving the most piercing meows. If he is napping and I inadvertently disturb him he glares at me. If I’m on the toilet he is right there sniffing around through the whole operation. Our bathroom door doesn’t latch, so he pushes right it, I can’t stop him, but if I stand near him while he is using his litter box I get the dirty look from him like, “C’mon, Mom, give me some privacy here!” He is not a snuggly cat, but will tolerate about 30 seconds of cuddling before he bolts. Mostly, he ignores me unless I’m doing something, then he has to be involved in it, whether I want him to or not. Monty will lick my hand, but usually this is right after he has gently bitten it. He sometimes bites during petting sessions, but never a hard bite. He has learned to play gently. But if I try to come between him and prey I am probably going to need to get some antibiotics. (From scratches– he never bites when he’s ticked off.) I have some permanent scars from such an incident. He seemed to feel badly about that later, but maybe I am anthropomorphizing. Monty is egocentric in the way a two year old human is self centered. The world revolves around him and his needs, and I don’t think he really has empathy. I know some animals do, but I don’t think he really does. But he knows how to manipulate, like a super loud purr that tells me he wants something, or cuddling up to me because he wants my food. Once the food is gone, so is he. And then there’s the growling at company, which is comical, but actually frightens some guests. I don’t love him any less, but I don’t expect too much from him. I had a cat when I was a kid that would stick right by me if I were upset, sick or injured. I had a root canal yesterday, and Monty was completely oblivious. Tippy would have been right by me afterwards.
    But I try not to compare and just to love Monty for who he is. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me when I’m far less than lovable, completely cold toward Him, disobedient, self-centered and stubborn. My favorite hymn has a line I like: “Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.” I’m called to love Monty, because God sent him to me to love and to learn from him. Sometimes what I learn isn’t that pleasant because I see myself in Monty’s selfishness. But I’ve learned a lot about what it means to love another being. I’m amazed that Monty is my little friend, because as a feral cat he would not naturally love humans. He hated me at first and was terrified, just as our first parents fled from God in the garden and could only hate and fear Him. So Monty is adopted by me and won over by my love for him, so that now he is family when he used to be a stranger, just as I was once a stranger and enemy to God, but was brought to Him through my baptism, won back through the blood of Christ. It’s not a perfect analogy, because Monty, though his behavior appears selfish, is truly sinless and perfect as God made him to be (which I am not) but in terms of enmity and friendship, strangers and friends, my relationship with Monty is a good parallel for my relationship with Christ. Jesus reached out to me, and so we are friends, who could only have been enemies without His intervention on my behalf. These are the things I think about as I cherish my time with my little furry friend. Though we have a limited time together in this imperfect world, our relationship in all facets points me to the eternal, to the One who loves us both.

  6. Ruth:
    Being candid is a special virtue, personally I truly detest those that are not, eg I rather have a dr tell me bluntly of my medical condition than beat around the bush, give it to me straight or I’ll go to a dr that cares. As an animal rescuer/lover/helper for over 50 yrs (hope fully our God will allow me & son much longer)learned that animals clearly know our feelings not only towards them but specially how we interact with our own. July 1981, hubby & I found a Tortie in an abandoned house, took her home & soon got her spayed. She absolutely adored my husband, tolerated me (food)but hated our young son with Cerebral Palsy (she would hiss/spat @ him every opportunity)her name was Panchita II (female for Frank, my husband). She was very picky with her human companions.
    December 2001 she waited for her beloved owner to come home, she drank a bit of water & few seconds later peacefully passed away in Frank’s arms. Few weeks later I took Snuggles (spayed Ginger female)to our vet & casually mentioned.
    “Dr Sugasky, Panchita did well for being 20 yrs old” his comment was “Mam, Panchita was @ least 24 yrs old, I wish more owners cared about their pets the way you do” I simply said “Thank you, we consider them part of the family”
    How could the vet tell about Panchita being @ least 24 Yr, he said Panchita had the bones of a very old arthritic cat,she was born in 1977 I thought she was born in 1981,she was already 4 yrs old when we found her.
    Panchita was the epitome of a “Moody Tortie” but @ same time very loving towards her owner, she picked him not viceversa.
    keenpetite
    Sotheast Arizona (USA)

    • Love your story keenpetite. Cats do choose their friends and loves. They get so close to some humans that it is sort of love. Maybe it is a truer love than ours. The great debate is how to cats choose their close friends and loves? What do they look for? is is just that undefinable chemistry that humans talk about? Panchita died beautifully.

  7. There is a marked difference in my two cats in their reaction towards their human care-takers.Queen cat Matahari was playful as a kitten , loved being cuddled but changed drastically after delivering her first and only set of 6 kittens in 2009.Today she is absolutely aloof and although likes being petted as do all cats she never ever mixes with either me or my house care-taker who feeds her.She only there for the food but absolutely the loner cat rest of the day and night.Her kitten, now a 3 1/2 year tomcat matata is the opposite of her in temperament and behaviour. He is more dog-like and loves attention throughout the day.He is the house un-official “Alarm Clock” waking the house at dawn with his loud “me00wing”.Early in the morning he comes to the bedroom, meoows and lies sideways on the floor to be petted. This is his daily regular habit and hence we can never oversleep in my house.He is just like a young child, absolutely an attention seeker who loves nothing but sleeping on his chair almost the entire day with intermittent petting from his human care-takers.Its rightly said about humans regarding pet ownership, quote, ‘A human owns a dog but a cat owns a human”.

    • Interesting comment. I find the comment about Queen cat Matahari changing character after giving birth interesting. Do you know what happened. It would seem to be a hormonal change. I have not read this before.

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