To start, the feline nose touch greeting is the physical manifestation of the gift of friendship. There are 8 others that I can think of while typing this but there are probably more.
A lot of people – mainly outsiders to the cat world – describe the cat as aloof. There is a tendency to think of the human-to-cat relationship as one-way traffic: the human providing security, warmth, food etc. We know that the relationship with the domestic cat is mutually beneficial but are there any specific feline behaviors which can be described as ‘gifts’ from cat to person? Here are some thoughts:
- If we are at the right height in relation to our cat, she may deliver the nose touch friendly greeting. This is a physical manifestation of the gift of friendship.
- If your cat is by your side and grooming themselves and your hand is nearby, she may lick your hand and then continue to groom herself. This is a feline action that is a pure gift. It is very specific. For the cat, it is like a present as it is given unconditionally. It comes entirely naturally. It is called allogrooming by the experts. Of course, cats do this to each other which clearly indicates that domestic cats relate to us as big domestic cats!
- When a cat rubs against us, perhaps as an introduction to asking for food in a meow, they are depositing their scent onto us. We can’t smell it. They can. They also take some of your scent from you. This is scent exchange. But in giving us some of their scent, they give us a gift which helps cement the relationship that is beneficial to us.
- The head butt is also a gift. This action also deposits their scent onto us. The reason is the same as above.
- Their presence in our lives is also a gift. It brings us companionship and from it flows improved mood. Millions of cats improve the lives of otherwise lonely, single people.
- When a cat sleeps on our bed, against our legs, or on our lap while we watch the television, they give us warmth: physical and emotional. This is the gift of their body heat and their close presence.
- When a cat purrs as you pet them, this soft melodious sound unique to the cat calms us. This is the gift of feline sounds.
- If you are pinned down by your cat because they are on your lap or legs when we are in bed, and we don’t want to disturb them, they give us the gift of slowing down. Humans need to slow down sometimes. Modern life can be too frenetic and stressed. The domestic cat can place a temporary full-stop in our lives which can be helpful in attaining a better quality of life.
- Most domestic cats like to reach out with their paw and touch us when they sleep near to us; the gift of being in direct contact. This is a particularly nice gift as the friendliness of your cat is channelled through a small point of their body; the paw. And the action is very obvious. It like saying “I want to be with you as you are my friend and companion”. It is an expression of friendship and affection. The gift of love.
P.S. When a cat brings in a mouse that they have caught I don’t see this as a gift, more a nuisance 🙂 I have tried to pick out genuine gifts – actions that benefit.
SOME MORE ON GREETING BEHAVIOR: