Analyzing the belief that cats love us unconditionally

It is often said that one of the great charms of our domestic cat companions is that they love us unconditionally. It is a blessing as in the human world unconditional love is quite precious and often confined to the parent-to-child relationship where even in that relationship love can break down. Unconditional love for humans is rare. A gift and an act of wonderful altruism. Unconditional love is true love. The gold standard of the expression of love. Do cats attain this standard?

Cat in a close relationship with their male human companion
Cat in a close relationship with their male human companion
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

What does unconditional love mean?

Unconditional love, often referred to as love without conditions or limitations, is a kind of love offered freely without expecting anything in return. It’s characterized by a deep affection that doesn’t change regardless of the actions or circumstances of the person being loved. This type of love is often associated with the love parents have for their children, but it can also be found in other types of relationships, such as friendships and romantic partnerships.

In essence, unconditional love is about caring for the happiness of another person without any thought for how it benefits you. It’s considered a selfless act where the love you give is not based on what someone does for you in return; you simply love them and want nothing more than their happiness.

Sources: Healthline, Psych Central, Wikipedia, Very Well Mind.

Do cats love their owners?

A question that might insult many cat caregivers and cats themselves (if they understood the question 😉)

But yes, cats can indeed form strong bonds with their owners and show affection in various ways. While they may not express love in the same way humans do, many behaviors indicate a cat’s affection for its human companions. Here are some signs that your cat loves you:

  • Purring: When your cat purrs while being close to you, it often means they are relaxed and content.
  • Slow Blinks: Cats often do slow blinks when they’re comfortable. It’s like a cat’s way of smiling at you.
  • Sleeping on You: If your cat chooses to sleep on you, it’s a sign of trust and affection.
  • Greeting You: A cat that greets you at the door is showing that they’re attached to you.
  • Bringing Gifts: Cats sometimes bring gifts, like toys or even small prey, as a sign of affection.
  • Following You Around: If your cat follows you, it means they prefer your company.

These behaviors suggest that cats do appreciate human contact and can be quite affectionate. So, while they might not love in the exact way humans do, they definitely have their own special ways of showing it.

Sources: 5 including Pet Keen and Daily Paws.

Love your cat unconditionally

If you want your cat to love you love them unconditionally. Give them the things they enjoy and need. I comb my cat every day where he can’t get to (inaccessible places). He loves it and loves me in turn. It starts with love from the caregiver.

Source: MikeB

Do cats love their owners unconditionally?

The concept of unconditional love in cats is a bit complex. Cats do form strong bonds with their owners and show affection in their own unique ways. However, whether this affection is truly “unconditional” is a subject of debate among experts.

Cats are known to be more independent than dogs and may not express love as overtly. Studies have shown that cats can develop secure attachments to their owners, seeking comfort and security from them. They may not love unconditionally in the way we typically understand it, but they do show signs of strong emotional bonds.

For instance, a study by Kristyn Vitale and Monique Udell at the Human-Animal Interaction Lab observed cats’ behavior with their caregivers and found that many cats use their owners as a source of security, similar to the secure attachment seen in children and dogs. Another study highlighted that cats’ responses to their owners can vary greatly, influenced by factors such as socialization and living conditions.

So, while cats may not love “unconditionally” in the human sense of the word, they certainly have the capacity for deep affection and attachment to their human companions. It’s just that their way of showing it might be different and more subtle compared to other pets like dogs.

The conclusion I have is that cats don’t love us unconditionally in the same way a mother might love her young child unconditionally. We have to be careful of not anthropomorphising our cats. Projecting our human beliefs onto them.

For example, cats expect us as caregivers to feed them and provide security and companionship. Is that conditional love? I’ll leave it to readers to make up their minds.

Sources: Science Times, Pet Finder, Daily Paws and more.

RELATED: “Cats only feel cupboard love”

Do cats have a favorite person?

Cats can indeed have a favorite person. They tend to form a special bond with someone who interacts with them the most, understands their needs, and respects their personality. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care for others, but they may show a preference for one person over others.

Factors influencing a cat’s preference can include:

  • Personality Match: A calm person may attract a docile cat, while an active person might be favored by a playful cat.
  • Caregiving: The person who feeds, plays, and takes care of the cat’s needs often becomes the favorite.
  • Early Socialization: Kittens tend to bond with the person who cares for them after they’re separated from their mother.
  • Consistency: Cats appreciate routine and may become attached to someone who provides a stable environment.
  • Trauma and Recovery: If a cat has had a traumatic experience, the person who helped them through it may become their chosen human.

Every cat is unique, and their favorite person is determined by a combination of these factors.

Can cats be jealous of their owners?

Yes, cats can exhibit behaviors that might be interpreted as jealousy. They are territorial animals and can become jealous of other pets, people, or even objects that they perceive as threats to their relationship with their owner or to their environment. Here are some signs that may indicate jealousy in cats:

  • Aggression: A cat may hiss, growl, or swipe at the object of their jealousy.
  • Attention-seeking: They might act out to regain your attention if they feel neglected.
  • Altered owner interactions: Changes in how they interact with you, such as being more clingy or distant.
  • Destructive behavior: They may scratch furniture or knock things over.
  • Territorial behaviors: Guarding their favorite spots or belongings more aggressively.

These behaviors can stem from insecurity, lack of proper socialization, or a change in their environment. It’s important to understand and address the underlying causes to help your cat feel secure and loved.

Sources: Various including Catster, The Spruce Pets and Feline Living.

RELATED: Why cats are almost certainly capable of being jealous

Can cats feel love for other animals?

Cats are capable of forming bonds with other animals and can display behaviors that suggest affection. While they may not experience love in the human sense, they do show signs of positive feelings towards other animals, including other cats, dogs, and even larger animals like horses.

Cats communicate emotions through various means, such as visual, olfactory, and auditory signals, and these can be directed towards other animals. They may not “fall in love” as humans do, but they can develop strong social bonds, especially if they have been raised together or have spent a significant amount of time with one another.

For example, cats that groom each other, sleep together, or play together are displaying affiliative behaviors that indicate a positive relationship. These behaviors are similar to those they show towards humans they are attached to, suggesting that cats can indeed feel affection for other animals.

Sources: Inverse, Catster and Petkeen plus others.

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