Do You Consider Your Cat to be Loyal?

This is an interesting topic because cat companions are not really known for their loyalty. I’ll re-write that; dogs are known for their loyalty while cats are liked and loved primarily for other qualities. Or am I incorrect?

I hadn’t given much thought to loyalty as a characteristic that I particularly liked in my cat until I began to write this. That does not mean he is not loyal. Loyalty, as an attractive characteristic, is probably not the first thought in relation to cats because they have this independent air. They like to do as they please.

Loyal Cat

Loyal Cat

I have always praised a cat’s reliability. They are always there for you. That is a form of loyalty. That said, there are many domestic cats that are allowed to go outside who wander from house to house and share their time at other people’s homes (“timeshare cats”). This is not that unusual. Also some indoor/outdoor cats never come back. This may be because their home is no good for them. They might be abused or neglected. Leaving under these circumstances is not an act of disloyalty but common sense.

However, in some cases, a well cared for cat just walks away for no apparent reason. Is that cat disloyal? Is it the case that some cats are simply not domesticated enough to stick around humans? Or perhaps there is something going on in the mind of the cat who walks out that we don’t understand. Are we inadvertently doing things that make our cat less loyal? For instance introducing a new cat that the existing cat dislikes.

Personal Experience

Reflecting on “loyalty” in relation to my cat, Charlie, I feel he is loyal. His behavior demonstrates it. He sticks close to me most of the day. He spends time resting against me when I work, as he is right now. He talks to me – nearly always a request for something. I sense there is a connection between us that is on a par with human to human companionship. But is this loyalty?

Loyalty has been defined as “A feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection“. On that definition I think Charlie is loyal. I hope he thinks I am loyal to him! Although I don’t believe cats think about these human concepts.

The general public in America consider their cat to be loyal. A poll on another site produced these results:

  • 83% said that their cat was “absolutely loyal”.
  • 11% felt their cat was sort of loyal. Neither loyal nor disloyal.
  • 3% thought their cat was disloyal and
  • almost 3% were not sure.

Reading Between The Lines

This is about us as usual. All good cat caretakers will say that their cat is loyal. Bad cat caretakers, for whatever reason, will have a tendency to say their cat is not loyal. I think this poll is a reflection on our attitudes and behavior as much as it is a reflection of the behavior of our cat companions.

So for example, if you are a poor cat caretaker your cat is more likely to run from you or be defensively aggressive towards you. The person will then say his cat is not loyal. Conversely a person who loves her cat and is an excellent owner is almost bound to agree that her cat is loyal because (a) he will be and (b) because she sees her cat as a much loved companion. She is not going to call him disloyal. The question of loyalty for a cat starts with us.

For dogs I think it is different. Dogs will follow and look up to their “master” whether the master is nice to their dog or not. This is what Mark Twain is saying in this cat quote:

“By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a “noble” animal? The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward — you will never get her full confidence again.”

I think it is fair to say that loyalty in a cat depends on us and this is right and proper.

Loyalty Between Cat and Another Companion Animal

I can’t finish this post without mentioning that there are countless instances of cats being loyal and loving companions to either a dog or another cat or indeed any other animal such as a deer. These relationships stand out and scream “loyalty”. There are many videos on the internet showing close friendships between cats and other animals that tick all the boxes in a loyalty test. Elisa Black-Taylor, a writer for PoC, has personal experience of this as she keeps cats and dogs.

Do you consider your cat loyal and if so what signs do you see that indicates this?

Facebook Discussion


Do You Consider Your Cat to be Loyal? — 4 Comments

  1. I have been pondering this question of Monty’s loyalty for a few days now. Before when I was eating a snack he was climbing all over me and purring like crazy. The food is gone now and so is he. I’ve seen no sign of him in two hours. Yesterday, I was monitoring him outside. I was standing about five feet from him, and Monty was up in a tree, probably eight feet off the ground. He can get out of this tree by backing down like a cat should. Sometimes he jumps. I don’t like him jumping from that height so sometimes I bend over, he jumps onto my back, then onto the ground. He usually meows before jumping onto me. Yesterday, with no warning he leapt the distance from the tree to me, landing on my head, lacerating my scalp, scraping by my eye, knocking my glasses off, and hurting my neck in the process. Later, while he was climbing a tree to get on top of the shed he growled at me and continued to growl at me while he played on top of the shed. I guess he didn’t want to come in, but I wasn’t trying to bring him in. Jeff’s parents were here for the holiday last week and Monty growled at them a lot. I think Monty is loyal to Monty. I still love him. He is who he is. I’m just glad that miraculously he didn’t break skin on my face when he leaped onto me from that tree. It’s sore and red there, but it didn’t bleed. I think if I were smaller he would eat me. Well, he never eats his prey. He just batters it into unconsciousness or paralysis and then loses interest. That would be what he would do to me if he could. He seems to see my husband as the alpha cat and respects him. Monty sees himself as dominant over me. In the hierarchy it goes Jeff, small cat, me. I suppose this is my fault. I want Monty to be happy. I don’t think in the animal kingdom the dominant cat is caring much whether the other cats are happy. My husband says I am making Monty into a “wussy” and if I didn’t always jump to fulfill his every whim every time he meows he’d have more respect for me. So, no, Monty is not loyal to me, but he is loyal to himself and to my husband, who can tell Monty to drop a mouse and he will do it, and to go in his house, and he will do it, and to stop trying to steal food off my plate and he will do it. But I’m just the food giver, the poop scooper and apparently a climbing post as well.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Interesting question and I think that less cat parents would agree than dog parents.

    I’ll start out by saying that you hit a key point when you said that it depends upon how good of a cat parent a person is. A cat’s loyalty seems to be directly proportional to how well a cat parent treats her or him. The better a cat is treated, the higher the loyalty. Same is true for dogs and people.

    It can go back to something we were discussing here the other day – socialization. If a cat is well-socialized then it an form healthy attachments to both people and animals. If not then it may end up being detached. Good socialization can establish a good foundational soil for strong bonds.

    It’s not necessarily required. I’ve rescued cats who were abused and they all came around later. Cats value bonding like humans and dogs do. They just have to be able to trust. If they are consistently shown proper care, even abused animals can come around and form loving bonds.

    Loyalty feels good and cats crave that connection.

    The cats I have right now are all loyal to me and to each other. I’m loyal to them and they know it. Much of this is due to the fact that they have received good care. It’s a form of friendship and love.

    What are the signs? They greet me when I come home. They hang out with me. They come and get me when they want me to play with them. They comfort me when I’m down. They crave my presence and involvement.

    You’re right – the question of loyalty starts with us and how well we treat them.

    Good topic,

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

  3. I think they might test my loyalty. I notice Gigi is dissapointed if I don’t pick her up and say hi properly when I get home. Red was like that too. Once I do she is then busy and doesn’t need anything anymore. I guess loyalty comes into that sequence of events somewhere along the line.

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