The brains of domestic cats release a hormone called “oxytocin” which has been called the “neurochemical of love” in the same way that people do. Hence it could be said that all mammals love in a similar way to people judging by brain chemistry and the production of what is also called the “love hormone”. It seems that when a person or any mammalian animal falls in love a part of their brain (the hypothalamus) produces a large amount of a hormone called oxytocin.
Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, who conducted the study into animals’ production of oxytocin says that both human and animal brains produce this hormone when people and animals are treated with kindness. It is a hormone which is also associated with intimacy and has been called the “bonding hormone”.
As can be seen, oxytocin, is closely associated with friendship, intimacy and, for the want of a better term, “love”. I say “love” because this hormone and was found to be released between lovers during sexual intercourse.
The hormone also encourages people to treat others with more care and compassion hence its association with love and friendship. Animals produce this hormone when they interact with each other and when they interact with people.
Prof Zak recites an interesting test he conducted on a goat and a dog, who were friends. After the goat and dog had played together, the professor measure the amount of oxytocin in their blood and there was so much of it in the goat’s blood that he concluded that it was quite possible that the goat was in love with his dog companion. As it happens the dog produced less of this hormone. Perhaps this was a case of unrequited love!
You can find out more about this hormone at a very scientific level by reading the Wikipedia article but I don’t want to dwell on the science in this article as this post is about recognising, once again, that there are great similarities between the domestic cat and people at an anatomical level.
I hope the knowledge that cats could have the same feelings of love (which I presume this hormone produces) leads to more people respecting the domestic cat and indeed animals in general.