Categories: ailurophile

Do cat owners deceive themselves, to some degree, into believing that their cat actually feels true affection for them, and if so, does this belief also reflect itself in the cat owner’s human relationships?

I have decided to answer Quora questions! Why not? Quora does well by them. The above question is the longest title I have used. It’s too long. It implies that cats can’t feel true affection for their owner. I think that you’ll find that of the 35% of US households who have a cat, 99% of the occupants believe that their cat has true affection for them and they’ll base that thought on personal experience.

Photo: Clover Cottage Gifts

The key is that cat owners see signs of affection towards them every day from their cat. If it wasn’t there I don’t believe they would fictionalise it. Some cat owners might exaggerate the affection that their cat has for them and they might relate to their cat as a person. This may lead to misinterpreting cat body language and vocalisations. However, you’ll find that even the most rational individual and cat owner recognises affection from their cat when it is presented to them. And it happens in many ways such as head butts, scent exchange and lying on their owner.

The experts concur on this: cats feel emotions and form close relationships with other cats and humans. So we have to conclude that cat owners are not deceiving themselves to some degree into believing that their cat actually feels true affection for them because it is real.

The second part of the question can therefore be ignored as it is based on the first. However, it is a valid issue: whether a person’s affection for their cat (and the cat’s reciprocal affection) affects a cat owner’s relationship with other people. The answer is very definitely, Yes. I have read stories of women giving up on their significant other (SO) because he does not like cats.

There have been bust ups between married couples over the family cat. Divorcing husbands sometimes maliciously hurt the family cat to get at the ex-wife. A woman’s affection for her cat or cats can affect her relationship with her SO. Most often though it won’t because the woman ensures that her boyfriend likes cats and vice versa.

If a cat owner is one of the rare ones who is prone to self-deception on the matter of her cat having affection for her/him it will affect her or his relationships with humans because he or she will be prone to misreading signs of affection.

What do you think?

Are male cats more affectionate than females?


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • I wish you all could have witnessed Mook and my husband reuniting after several months of him being out of town. She was literally shaking with joy and couldn't stand up because she was treading with all four feet in the air. They are very bonded and the love in her eyes was obvious. Is it our definition of love I don't know but she reeked of pure joy.

  • I know my cats 'Male and Female' love me,even my foster because he will jump on my lap and put his little mouth to mine and starts purring,my cats wait in the window whilst I'm outside or if I come in from going to the store and as soon as I walk through my door they gather around my legs except for 'Toi and Irleynn' they are my torti's and have always been stand offish but my others meow up a storm when I come home,they also like to pile on me as soon as I settle in on my chair every night,yep,they love me.

  • “Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

    From The Little Prince.

  • One more thing Michael I too would call it quits if my SO told me to get rid of the cats because he knows how dear they are to me and that would be an act of cruelty on his part. For the record he's smitten with all of them too.
    The act of telling someone to get rid of their pet goes much deeper than just the animal itself it is a control issue and used by many abusive spouses. Beware of it.

    • Yes, so true. This is one condition to a relationship which is immutable: accept my cat(s).

  • I have great love for my cats and it's unconditional. The affection I get in return is theirs to give I love my aloof Toad all the more because she is so strikingly independent whereas her sister Frog hides under my pillow during a storm.
    I often hear people say their pet offers unconditional love it's actually the other way around. I am free to love my cats unconditionally. I have said before I co-exist with my cats I do not need to dominate them. I also love them as individuals for their own unique qualities.
    I hope they are at least fond of me.

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