Do kittens still see their primary owner as mommy even if the owner is a boy?

Do kittens still see their primary owner as mommy even if the owner is a boy? Yes, is the answer. They see the primary owner as a surrogate mother who in providing food and security keeps their cat in a permanent state of dependent kitten hood.

Picture of happy boy and content cat just after adoption

Picture of happy boy and content cat just after adoption

This state subsists until the adult cat hunts and brings home a mouse. At this point the cat behaves as a mother to their owner and is trying to train their owner how to hunt mice.

It is a rather strange, mixed up or even schizophrenic form of behavior. It seems that the domestic cat is somewhat confused as to their place in human society.

Way back when domestication of the cat started – 10,000 year ago – there was no such confusion regarding the roles of cats and humans.

The cats were semi-domesticated. They lived rather like today’s barn cats. In this arrangement the cat had a friendship with the human but did not regard the human as their mother because the human did not provide in such an intimate way.

It was a looser arrangement and probably a better one for both cat and human. We have gone far away from that initial style of cat domestication and with it brought many failures: feral cats, unwanted cats, declawed cats etc..

In respect of play, adult cats can treat humans as siblings. It is a flexible relationship: the one between domestic cat and human guardian.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Albert Schepis says:

    I’m curious that I haven’t seen any replies or other comments for that matter, and if it has to do with checking the boxes below, so I’ve done that now to see what happens. With the gigantic readership this site has, I’d like to see more interaction, otherwise I’m just talking to myself.

  2. Albert Schepis says:

    I don’t disagree with this, but I wonder if we could expand on it. I mean, what if we explained our human / human relationships in such primitive terms? I’m reminded of when a police officer “explained” to me that the only reason my cats wandered from my property was because I didn’t feed them enough. What if extraterrestrials explained in their reports that humans formed bonds with each other because they see each other as surrogate mothers, offspring and siblings? Perhaps it all has it’s seeds there, but it’s primitive and limiting. We’re all a bit more complex than that, even cats, right? It’s just a matter of degree. Just because cats can’t express their feelings in words, doesn’t mean they don’t have them. Perhaps we should add concepts like friendship. I tend to believe that my cats have regarded me as more than a surrogate mother. We experience each other over time too, embracing emotional and even a degree of intellectual aspect, not just whether we provide food and shelter. I’m just thinking out loud, because that police officer really annoyed me.

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