Cats are Aloof. Discuss

Cats are not aloof

Online newspaper reporters continually state that cats are “aloof”. This is patently incorrect. The reporters don’t have an opinion because they often have no experience of caring for a cat. They unthinkingly recycle what has often been repeated before.

If you like or love a cat and, as a consequence, through constant interaction and high quality caretaking, you understand cats, you’ll soon realize that the adjective “aloof” does not apply to the character of a cat. Please give us a break, guys.

Definition of the word “aloof”: not friendly or forthcoming; cool and distant. (Google search).

For a start, the word aloof has been created to be used to describe a person, a human being. That is the first reason why it is unsuited to describe a cat.

To be aloof you have to have a person’s character. A cat might be quiet and mind his/her own business but that does not mean the cat is aloof. It just means he is being quiet.

“Not forthcoming”. How can that apply to a cat? Not forthcoming is a phrase for people. Even if you accept it can apply to a cat, I would challenge anyone to say my cat is not forthcoming. He shouts at me when he wants food. He stands on his hind legs and shouts. He gives me the beady eye look. Anything to catch my attention and it works. He is more forthcoming than any human I know.

“Cool”. Being sleepy and minding your own business is not being cool. Doing your own thing is not being cool. To be cool refers to the state of mind of a person who wants to be…cool….

“Not friendly”. This is obviously wrong. Cats are very friendly. They come for cuddles. They head butt you. They exchange scent with you. They talk to you. They ask for food or to go out. In short they interact in a friendly way. As far as I am concerned cats are more friendly than people and I am being as objective as I can be in stating that.

If we are strangers to cats they can be frightened of us. Cats are wise to be initially unsure of us. It is about caution because humans are potentially dangerous to all animals. Caution is not being unfriendly or stand-offish or aloof or cool. It is sensible caution in the presence of another animal – the human – that is a giant to a cat.

So, please, reporters and journalists, do your research, don’t repeat the tired old clichés. Think for yourself. Show some enlightenment. Have an opinion. Use your brain. And stop saying cats are aloof for heaven’s sake.

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Comments

Cats are Aloof. Discuss — 31 Comments

  1. I see your point Michael. I think the definition of aloof with cats should be different. I think it’s actually a good quality. An aloof cat is one that sits on the mantel and watches over their territory (we know it is their’s too)and human family. This does not mean they are unfriendly, unaffectionant or mean in any way.

    • Yes, aloof is a word for people. That is my argument. Domestic cats are friendly with other cats and their owner. In which case they can’t be aloof. They do like to be on their own sometimes but often they sleep near their owner. This is not a sign of wanting to be distant and unfriendly. “Independence” comes to mind. But an independent character is not aloofness as far as I am concerned.

  2. Cats are definitely not “ALOOF” when compared to the human definition as they are friendly to their human owners and love being petted or pampered .Cats unlike dogs can’t be trained to respond spontaneously to ‘HUMAN COMMANDS” and i presume thats the reason for using the word “ALOOF” when described by journalists.

    • Thanks Rudolph, a good point. The idea that cats are aloof probably comes from a comparison with dogs who come on command etc.. Cats rarely come on command. That does not make cats aloof. It means they are more independent, a nice quality.

  3. The only cats I could ever remotely call aloof are the ones that don’t know me, for example if I see a cat when I’m out and about I always speak to it, but I’m always glad if the cat doesn’t respond especially if he or she doesn’t come to me because it’s safer for the cat to be “aloof” than trusting of a stranger that might be a genuine cat lover but just might also have a bag handy to stuff the cat into after grabbing it. All the cats I’ve known personally have been anything but aloof, cats are individuals who interact with us in their own way, some are more noisy and demanding than others but even the shyest cat knows how to get what he or she wants. Stereotyping cats as “aloof” is lazy journalism, obviously no proper research into the warm, furry, delightful subjects has taken place.

  4. I agree, aloof describes people not cats and I also agree that cats are much more independent than dogs, so people who don’t love and understand cats could perceive them as aloof.
    It’s sad that cats have to be wary of people but it’s good that they are from instinct because of the people who would hurt them.
    People who don’t love cats are missing out I think, because once you get to know a cat and he/she gets to know you, it’s a wonderful two way loving friendship, more equal than a dog aiming to please all the time, cats have a mind of their own and maybe that’s what cat haters don’t like because it makes them feel inferior!

    • Lovely comment Ruth. Wise comment. If a person understands a cat the person sees a beautiful and subtle friendship, which disproves the concept that cats are aloof.

    • Yes, it is about sensible caution. People need to do the same. I just don’t see cats as aloof. They are self-contained sometimes and do their own thing which I admire but this is not aloofness. The trouble is that journalists tend to perpetuate misconceptions about cats and I don’t like that.

      • I really like Walter’s photo, too. and his cat. There is just something about this photo that I really like. Actually, I think it’s not just the composition but the whole depth of field (noticing that he chose to blur the neighbor woman –to protect her identity?), the framing and the boundaries that create the focal point. It really is great, like you said! 🙂

        • lol Caroline that’s Barbara outside our house. I was along the Grove with Walter keeping an eye on him inspecting the garden of an empty house and after I took the photo he ran back along the wall and home with me.

      • lol he does look quite ‘posh’ nose in the air, aristocratic Sir Walter who came from Walter Street but he says the street is named after him lol

  5. Monty’s not aloof. He either knows you and will find a way in about 30 seconds to get you to feed him (even if he’s just eaten) or he doesn’t know you and will growl at you. He communicates just what he wants and he lets us know when he’s not happy.
    Lately as I try to get work done for school because teaching again is nothing but a ton of work I have to take home, Monty keeps coming up to the screen door meowing. I have to go out and pet his belly, play with him or do my workout. He is able to communicate what it is he wants. At least I get my exercise. But he is not content to just be left alone. He does get lonely. Lately, with me working more, he tends to spend more time in the same room with me if I am home and ask for me to come outside with him more than he did before. Were he aloof, he wouldn’t care if I were gone and wouldn’t care whether I spent time with him or not.

    • Lovely photo of Monty, Ruth! Your camerawork puts my own to shame! I’m going to save both yours and Walter’s to be rotated as my desktop wallpaper, if that’s okay…? Do I need permission?

        • Well, that certainly clarifies the situation for me. lol. Then I think it’s okay to say, “My goodness that Walter is such a handsome fellow!” 😉

          • I hope you agree with what I stated, Caroline. We say cats are handsome. We are using our criteria for physical attractiveness. I wonder if cats have the same criteria.

            • Yes we say female cats are beautiful and male cats are handsome even though they are beautiful too, so we do use the same words as for female and male humans.
              If we called a male human beautiful he might be upset lol
              Cats don’t care what we physically look like at all, they just accept us as we are and that’s a good lesson they teach us.

    • Inky black. Intense golden eyes. He’s never heard of the word “aloof”. Yes, he knows a thing or two about the word “hunting” and “food”. But aloof..nah..

  6. You’ve got me going on this media thing, Michael. In the U.S., the online and television professionals continually obsessively abuse females with their portrayals of what a woman should look like. Big money in this. The same is true of their obsessive, insensitive portrayal of domestic felines, it just seems to feed on itself. Most socially-conscious women and males don’t speak up loudly nor often enough. It would take that same type of ego ? to create a healthy change. The perpetuation within the media of this cockamamie attitude is fueled by huge macho egos; it’s unfair and insensitive. I’m pretty damn sure the majority of the lot are males who get off on cockiness and power.

    • It is a man’s world even in America which is high on equality for women. The media is both good for exposing wrong – the free press – and horrible with their mindless obsessions as you say.

      In Britain it is the royal family which is constantly in the news and the bodies of celebrity women as you also say.

      The stereotyping of cats that perpetuates misconceptions about the cat irritates the hell out of me. The media hurts women who become image obsessed and who learn to hate their bodies and the media can hurt the cat by feeding the minds of idiots and cat haters.

  7. People who don’t understand something tend to generalise and pigeon hole. In the same way if people (more so men) can’t control something usually an animal they label it as in ‘aloof’. If people perceive cats as aloof then thats because they don’t understand them; they have probably never been around a cat.

    Controversially you could say that about some children who are shy or clingy possibly because they are unsocialised. Its a quirk of their personality yet no one says it like its a bad thing do they? No one calls them ‘aloof’ its like animals aren’t supposed to be anything other than what people wnat them to be and if they are then woe betide them.

    I think aloof is good where cats are concerned because I agree with Michael not all people like cats and until cats find out who’s who then they are cautious. I saw an example of this the other night. I came out of my friends house and her cat went out at the same time. I noticed this guy who was standing outside the house next door smoking. It was raining so Simba (my friends cat) sat outside her front door after she had closed it waiting for her to come and let him back in. I sat in the car for a while because I didn’t like the look of this guy and although he had his back to me I knew he was looking at Simba. I could see Simbas face, he look terrified so frightened in fact he ran quickly behind a bin and hid away. I then called my friend and told her that Simba was frightened and to please let him back in so she did. I then drove off. I did think though if that guys intentions were those of a cat lover would he not have put his hand out or knelt down to stroke Simba. I had a bad feeling and I was glad I waited around.

    • Absolutely agree Leah. People who don’t understand cats label them with generalisations. The problem is that the branding is constantly repeated on the internet reinforcing misconceptions about cats. I don’t like that because it is not good for the cat.

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