I believe (actually, I know) that cats love us differently. This is born out of observation over may years. No matter how much we love our cat, and no matter how good we are at cat caretaking, we should accept that the human concept of “love” is not something that the domestic cat understands.
Cats will never totally reciprocate your “love” for them because cats don’t understand the meaning of the human word “love” together with all the connotations that it brings to a relationship. We must accept this and be happy with it. To do so is one element of a successful relationship with a domestic cat.
For some people, these might be harsh words, but they are realistic words. Humans are rather desperate animals. We need associations and support. We struggle. It doesn’t matter how “successful” a person is. Everyone has a demon to contend with. Cats are basically solitary animals and have evolved as domestic animals to like friendship but human “love” is not in the equation. I believe that cats are emotionally stronger than humans. A cat will “love” you but it will be in their, far more practical, way.
No one has discussed this before. Cats are less sentimental and more realistic. The cat lives more in the present. Life is more immediate for a cat. Living in the present and not asking questions creates strength. Cats are more resilient than people. The human’s arrogance should not allow people to deny that.
People who care for cats should respect the cat, which means recognizing the domestic cat as a cat not as another family member or a “person” — anthropomorphizing a cat. For cat haters, and people who like to criticize cat lovers, anthropomorphizing a cat is a weakness that they latch on to. You often see this.
Cat lovers should continue to love their cats but they should make sure that they see them as cats. The cat can be a substitute for a person as long as the cat does not stand in shoes of the person.