Owning your cat versus being in a relationship with your cat

Take the species out of the equation and you are left with a relationship with your cat.
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It’s important in terms of high standards of cat caregiving to be in a proper relationship with your cat rather than believing that you own them. An attitude which allows a person to feel that they own their cat is not likely to lead to a relationship which promotes cat welfare in the best way. The relationship will be suboptimal.

You take the species element out of the relationship i.e. you are a human and they are a cat. What’s left is the relationship.

And the core elements of a cat-to-human relationship are the same as they are for a human-to-human relationship. They might be as follows:

You will understand your cat’s likes and dislikes. You will be sensitive to their fears and anxieties. You will know their rhythms and routines. You will know what they like in terms of petting and foods. It’s a complete package of understanding and this comes from:

Listening and being observant and sensitive to their needs. When a cat wants to solicit something from you whether it’s food, affection, a lap, your time or your protection, it’s up to you to provide their attention even when you can’t actually do something at that moment. A good relationship demands a listening approach.

And also, there has to be compromise. It isn’t all about what the human needs and wants and even demands; an attitude which comes with ownership but not with a relationship. You have to bend to your cat’s needs sometimes even if it’s not what you want to do at that moment.

And you have to be able to admit that sometimes you don’t have the answers and don’t have control over the outcome of every moment in the relationship. I think you have to look up the answers sometimes and what better way to do it than on this website! πŸ™‚

Underpinning all of the relationship all of the time is love for your cat. If you love your cat everything that flows from that is going to be good for your cat and ultimately for yourself. It is an understanding that your life is better with your cat than without them. It means that you will always do the right thing for your cat and if you don’t know you will learn about it.

Armed with the above elements in the relationship, over time, it will develop and become a very strong one. There is an element of surrender for a cat caregiver: surrender to embracing the relationship rather than insisting upon ownership which is, if we are honest, and out of date concept nowadays concerning companion animals.

RELATED: Cat’s meow is a reflection of the kitten-to-surrogate mother relationship we have with them

Of course, there are many types of relationships with companion animals and it depends where you live and the culture where you live. In some places the attitude is very much about ownership. Even worse actually; it’s about failing to recognise the sentience of companion animals which inevitably leads to abuse and is a long way away from surrendering to a relationship.

Once you are in a relationship with your cat you will be much more skilled at achieving positive outcomes from problem behaviour. You will observe your cat with a sympathetic and empathetic eye. You’ll be less likely to become angry at “bad cat behaviour” and more likely to ask what it’s about and what caused it and how you can resolve it.

And finally, you will be able to foresee potential problems and prevent them happening because you will be able to create a more perfect environment for your cat.

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3 thoughts on “Owning your cat versus being in a relationship with your cat”

  1. This was a beautiful article, Michael.
    My only concern is that it may not be an argument that most folk who are cat caregivers will read. Maybe we can weave our way in. Most folks want humor interjected with words of wisdom, the science and kindness. I am not anyone, but one thing I stand behind is my convictions. I do tend to get down on my knees and play with my cat. He and I are basically the same age, 65ish, and we still play together πŸ’–

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