‘Self-contained’ for the human animal and non-human animal means quiet and independent; not depending on or influenced by others. To a great extent the domestic cat is self-contained. I think it is a better description that being ‘independent’. Self-contained refers to an attitude or mentality. It describes how the mind thinks. It means an ability to manage and cope well. The small wild cats are self-contained.
Clearly domestic cats are not independent because they are dependent on their human caregiver for sustenance, security, warmth and companionship. The basics. But within that dependency the domestic cat is self-contained of mind and thought. They do what they want to do more or less and they are hard to influence. They retain their core personality. They are very consistent in their behavior. And therefore, reliable and predictable.
Self-contained applies to humans as well. It seems to me that the self-contained person may be the kind of person who gets on well with the self-contained cat.
I might be fair to say that the self-contained person needs the companionship of the domestic cat or dog as they are less likely to network effectively and, as a result, they might feel that they require some kind of companionship other than human companionship.
To say someone is self-contained is, I believe, a compliment. Although it is not always a useful characteristic as humans are social creatures. Despite almost 10,000 years of domestication, cats are still essentially solitary although they have learned sociability. But this solitariness comes across as being self-contained!
Think of the small wild cats. They are all asocial and profoundly self-contained. They don’t seek out companionship with cats of the same species. They only time a male small wild cat meets another cat of the same species is to have sex with a female who probably lives within the male cat’s territory. Either that or to fight off another male who is on the resident cat’s territory. It is very specific and limited social behavior.
This self-containment is what makes the domestic cat what they are. A little enigmatic sometimes. A bit impenetrable sometimes. But charming and admirable nonetheless.
Humans have to accept, respect and embrace this aspect of feline character. You don’t struggle against it and try and mold it. You can train a cat through positive reinforcement but this is not changing their character.
It seems to me that the domestic dog is the opposite to self-contained. They are much more ‘needy’. They seek approval of their caregiver and guidance. They are loyal servants. Is it fair to say that that the word ‘needy’ is the opposite to the word ‘self-contained’?
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.