This is not my cat but the cat in the video whose name is Bailey. Bailey follows his human companion around as if stuck to him like glue.
“My cat will not leave my side…ever! Everywhere I go, she follows…”
Two questions (1) what is ‘codependent’ (1) are cats codependent?
A codependent relation is said to be an addictive relationship.
Scott Wetzler PhD on the webmd.com website describes it as a relationship where:
“One or both parties depend on their loved ones for fulfillment.”
Codependency is sometimes used to describe an alcoholic couple who are in a relationship. They feed each others addiction to alcohol.
I can see the connection between a cat who follows her human guardian around incessantly and codependency. A codependent relationship is said to be unhealthy. It can indicate low self-esteem. The person is unable to be a self-reliant, autonomous individual.
However, the concept of ‘codependency’ flies in the face of the classic domestic cat profile as a companion animal who is selfish, aloof and standoffish.
The truth is that most domestic cats depend on their human for almost everything especially when the cat is a full-time indoor cat.
Do we like a codependent domestic cat or do we prefer a single-minded more independent cat companion?
I do read complaints and moans on the internet about a cat being too clingy. I prefer a domestic cat who despite being wholly domesticated still has that glint of wild cat character in his eye. I like an independent cat who appreciates our relationship and who needs it but who retains a independent spirit which can on occasions be troublesome but nonetheless admirable.
If domestic cats can become codependent in their relationship with us, it is of our making. Dr Morris of Catwatching made the point years ago that we keep our cats in a kitten-like mental state. Their emotional development is frozen at the subabult stage when they would normally be leaving the maternal den to live independent lives, hunt prey and fend of themselves. Our cats are kept permanently in the den with mother. It is said to be arrested development.
Although Bailey’s human companion and caretaker is joking I sense that when he describes her as co-dependent, there is an element of truth in it. Is there difference between ‘clingy’ and ‘codependency’? Some cats are described as clingy.
If the domestic cat is in a codependent relationship with humans and if, as stated, such a relationship is unhealthy, it is arguable that the community cat style of cat-to-human relationship is better. This is where no one ‘owns’ cats but domestic cats live in the community. They are not feral. It is a style of relationship which you see more in the Mediterranean countries. It reflects the original cat/human relationship.
It could be said that the ‘ownership’ of cats is not good. Truthfully, we don’t own cats anyway. There is a natural follow on from a discussion on codependency in cats; are some people in codependent relationships with their cat or cats? Well, yes I think they are. What about cat hoarders? Isn’t that a sort of codependency condition. It is certainly unhealthy for both parties.