Non-cat owners ask: “Do cats get emotionally attached to their owners like dogs?”

To good cat owners – and the vast majority are at least decent at the job – the question in the title is bizarre and slightly upsetting as it implies that cats simply don’t become emotionally attached to their owner when obviously they do otherwise there wouldn’t be many millions of happy cats and owners providing each other with mutual support all over planet Earth. The popularity of the domestic cat is built on their emotional attachment to their owners. It is the emotional connection that cat caregivers enjoy which makes the cat so successful as a companion.

Timothy Hardway with his cat. He was the chosen one
Timothy Hardway with his cat. He was the chosen one. Image: Timothy on quora.com
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Oh, absolutely. You just have to be the “CHOSEN ONE!”

Timothy Hardway on quora.com (Former MMN ELT at United States Navy (USN) (2004–2010))

The obvious answer to the question is an unequivocal: yes. The question should not be asked but a user did on quora.com and there are lots of answers. People who wanted to gently put the person straight because it a surprise that they genuinely felt the need to ask it.

The reason for the misguided question (no criticism intended) is the myth that cats are solitary and inscrutable (unreadable). And many non-cat owners think that cats don’t show any emotion. They believe that cats are ‘independent’ and therefore don’t form close relationships with their caregiver. It is all lies!

Cats are not dissimilar to dogs in terms of their ability to connect with their owner. The domestic cat has been around for about 10,000 years, long enough to become integrated into the human way of life. And provided the cat is fully socialised and is not fearful of humans they’ll become emotionally attached to their owner.

Freddie Mercury

There are so many high-profile examples. What about Freddie Mercury for example. I mention him because there was a recent auction of all his possessions which were owned by a female confidante who was bequeathed the items on Mercury’s death. He was a huge cat lover and probably preferred cats to people. His hand-painted waistcoat featuring his cats including his favorite, Delilah, was auctioned for £139,700! The point is that he had a great relationship with his cats – all moggies – and he could only have had these relationships if they’d became emotionally attached. There has to be an emotional connection and it can’t be one-sided. It has to be mutual.

Authors

Many famous authors have lived and worked with cat companions. Writers can be pretty solitary so what better companion that a friendly domestic cat to sit on their desk or bed while they create their works. These authors are a testament to the emotional attachment of their cat companions; if evidence is needed.

The elderly

Many millions of elderly women and men rely on their cat companion for support. Their cats would not be able to provide support unless they made an emotional attachment. Support of this nature is emotional support. And as cats are less demanding that dogs, they are ideal companions for the elderly. Many of them would probably agree that their cats provide a kind of support that humans cannot.

Josh Wexler

I don’t think I need to say much more except this: the first quora.com user who answered the question starts off like this:

“I didn’t used to think so [that cats can get emotionally attached to their owners]. I’m 41, always been a dog person. Despised cats. Never wanted cats. I looked at cats with loathing. Who needs a pet who thinks they’re better than me and couldn’t care less to give me the time of day. Then about seven years ago I got conned by my wife and child into getting a kitten.”

Josh Wexler on quora.com

He agreed to adopt a kitten. He said that he didn’t like the kitten. Over the years he didn’t even learn to like the then adult cat. But finally, he learned to love cats. He found their emotional connection. He found the emotional warmth that the family’s cat brought to him. And there’s a great picture of him with a cat. This is a man who simply hated cats but now loves them. And that’s thanks to the emotional attachment the cat brought to him.

I can’t provide you with the picture because quora.com has just changed their policy entirely and have started to charge for access to answers to questions. And charge for access to photographs. Quora.com are monetising their website at last and it means you have to pay a subscription which I’m not prepared to do. What a shame. But you get the message. The man’s name is Josh Wexler. Thanks, Josh, for telling the world that you were wrong about cats!!

Kasey Loft

Another man provides us with his story about how he converted from being a dog person to a cat person. It is highly instructive. He also tells a story on quora.com. I have access to his comment this time perhaps for the last time.

He starts like this: “I’ve been a dog person my whole life. Had one from kindergarten to college and another stayed with me five years longer than that. The love of just two of my dogs gave me 30 years of companionship.”

He thought that cats were “aloof and cold and very much unattached”. As a result, he never had a cat. Then his dog died. And then his wife left him. He said, “I was a dog person”.

And then one day later he was cooking at his barbecue on his porch and a “tiny, malnourished gray tabby, with a white belly and socks, came up very cautiously, looked at the grill, looked at me, and said, meow!”

He refused to give the cat some chicken but his dinner companions that evening “begged, pleaded, and practically blackmailed me into changing my mind”.

So, we gave the stray cat some chicken which began a beautiful relationship because he said, “And for the next eight years, she didn’t go away.”

He continues:

And I’ve never felt SO much attention from an animal in my life. I have no doubt that my dogs love me. But that cat adored me. She also loved chicken and I supplied her with her favourite food. It’s the purr. Nothing in the canine world can express such deep contentment. And curling up on my lap or chest would cause it every time.

Kasey

He became enlightened about that beautiful feline attachment. He is a true convert. And you don’t get better praise about the domestic cat then you get from a person like Kasey Loft who was a dog person and who now fully appreciates the cat.

Personal

Having lived with cats for decades, I can tell you, like many other cat caregivers, that the emotional attachment between caregiver and cat is very strong. It is entirely mutual. Each gives to the other emotional support. It is a relationship of equals at its best.

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