Cat owners should not expect the same level of love and affection they receive from dogs
The words in the title are those of Dr John Bradshaw, a high profile cat behaviourist and author in the UK. You’ll also see him on TV. He also says that cat owners make the mistake of believing that cats should be affectionate towards us whenever we want. I think he is saying that we want a cat to act like a dog but be a cat. Some cats are more able to be dog-like in behaviour but most are not.
Incidentally are dogs affectionate on demand? I don’t believe they are. There is also a subtle difference between real affection and being needy. Dogs are more needy but is needing something a sign of affection?
An aspect of cat behaviour supports his argument;
Research shows that if you wait for your cat to come to you and say hello, it will spend longer with you than if you approach the cat first.
Dr Bradshaw says that cats have things on their minds other than being a pet to their owner! He remarks that people expect too much of their cat in terms of receiving affection.
I am not sure I agree. I wonder if this is more about education again. I believe a cat does deliver a similar level of affection to their caretakers as dogs. The question is whether the owner is aware of the more subtle behaviour of a cat and also whether the owner relates to their cat in a way which elicits affection.
If the perceptions of a cat owner are that their cat is aloof and standoffish that in itself will affect how the person interacts with their cat. The cat does tend to have a public profile of being ‘independent’ and aloof.
I don’t recognise aloofness combined with a lack of affection in my personal experiences and relationships with my cats. It is a different kind of affection perhaps. Less in-your-face and less needy but it is there nonetheless.
In fact, a lot of people prefer the more subtle signs of cat affection such as:
- Lying against you and quietly getting on with grooming herself. A cat uses us as a source of warmth and as a prop to assist in grooming while being close to us.
- Grooming you
- Looking at you in ‘that way’ – the slow blink or even without a blink. You can see and feel the connection.
- Just quietly being with you, near you. This is low profile stuff. It is not overt affection but just being there and being reliable and consistent is a valuable characteristic in a relationship.
A cat’s affection runs silently in the background. I like that and it suits a lot of people. I am not saying that Dr Bradshaw is wrong. I am simply questioning it.