One of the most common debates among cat owners boils down to a simple question: do cats actually care about their owners?
The simple answer is yes, but it’s deeper than that.
Cats bond with humans much as they did with their mothers as kittens, and they recognize the voice and scent of their owners as part of a secure bond.
Giving and showing love to a cat is much like showing love to a human friend.
If you’re interested in learning more about your cat’s love language, read on for a few interesting facts about feline feelings.
Do cats get attached and care for their owners?
Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats aren’t very different when it comes to their attachment to their owners.
As a matter of fact, many studies have shown that cats have similar attachment habits to human children.
The relationship between an owner and their cat is remarkably similar to that between parents and children.
Cats have been known to develop such familiarity with their owners that they can perceive their feelings and have many complex emotions of their own.
An academic look into the behavior and emotions of domesticated cats proves this with a few key pieces of information:
#1 Cats learn to bond from a young age.
From their first days in the world, cats begin searching for connections.
Their relationship with their mother during their kitten stage prepares them for a bit of an emotional transference.
When they adapt to their forever home, cats develop a secure bond with their owners that allows them to become attached like their mothers.
#2 Cats experience separation anxiety.
While dog owners can quickly diagnose separation anxiety through torn linoleum and half-eaten couches, cats are more subtle in expressing their feelings.
As opposed to external demonstrations, cats tend to be self-destructive when experiencing this attachment-based anxiety.
It often manifests as refusing to eat, urinating outside the litter box, shaking, or erratic behavior.
#3 Cats are protective of their owners.
Cats are very perceptive, territorial creatures, and that applies to their humans as much as it does to their homes.
They often see their owner’s territory as their own and will protect it on pure instinct, but they’re also incredibly protective and sensitive to their owner’s moods and expressions.
This can occasionally lead to aggression, such as swatting at visitors they deem untrustworthy, and stalking unwanted visitors through the home.
6 signs your cat cares about you.
To some, cats may come across as cold and aloof, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! While humans express love clearly and often vocally, cats don’t have the same advantage.
Every cat is different; some are vocal, some are physically affectionate, and some may just want to enjoy your presence alongside them.
Pay attention to how your cat interacts with you regarding resources and space. What they choose to share with you sends a message.
Your cat may say “I love you” in a variety of ways, including:
Spending quality time
Cats are solitary creatures by nature, so their most obvious sign of affection is quality time. They show their care by offering their companionship and enjoying yours.
So, if you’ve been finding your cat curled up in the corner while you work, or perched beside you during your Netflix night in, they’re probably trying to show you how much they care.
Making intense eye contact
Some cats are notoriously known as the “kitten kiss” and show affection through intense eye contact. Has your cat ever stared at you for an extended period, almost like a staring contest?
Maybe they’ve simply looked at you and taken a long blink.
For cats, this is a physical display only offered to a trusted few. You can say “I love you too!” by mimicking their behavior and offering prolonged eye contact in response.
Bringing you gifts
As natural predators, domestic cats earn a sense of validation from hunting and gathering, often using it as another way to show love.
They may bring you anything from toys to socks or even a dead rodent. For them, this is a way of providing, and they’re expecting to be praised for it.
Make sure that you respond in a positive, reinforcing way and offer an extra head scratch or two.
Offering physical affection
Cats are incredibly cuddly creatures; they can be very physically affectionate when they feel safe.
Your cat may be telling you it loves you by initiating pets and running its head on your hand or arm to encourage you to acknowledge it.
They may also “make biscuits”, another habit formed in their kitten stage, to show that they feel as safe and secure with you as they did with their mothers.
Cats don’t instinctually allow themselves to be vulnerable. Their primordial pouch, the hanging skin on their stomachs, is a sensitive point vulnerable to attack.
Becoming jealous or upset
Cats do get hurt or jealous when you offend them unknowingly. This is especially evident when you bring another pet into the house because they care so much about you that it is hard for them to accept a rival.
Fortunately, cats don’t usually hold a grudge for long, and you can pacify them pretty quickly by giving them more undivided care and concern.
What do I do if my cat doesn’t care about me?
Much like your relationships with your human friends, your relationship with your cat requires a bit of effort.
If you’re worried that your cat doesn’t care about you, perhaps your relationship requires a bit more effort.
Cats perceive affection through sound, scent, and touch; stimulating them mentally and engaging each of their senses is important.
Their love is very reciprocal, so getting your cat to care about you is as easy as communicating in their love language.
You can do this through a few simple steps.
Play with them as often as you can.
Cats love attention and interaction. They really enjoy interactive toys and are very receptive to play.
Creating time in your schedule to play with your cat consistently can go a long way in establishing a happy relationship with them, and the exercise is just an added benefit.
Play periods of 10-20 minutes are easy to incorporate into your own routine and can make all the difference in your relationship.
Groom them thoroughly.
Cats are clean creatures who take pride in their appearance and will groom themselves thoroughly and consistently throughout their lives.
Treating them to additional regular grooming can help build your cat’s affection for you.
If your cat is receptive to water, take a lightly damp washcloth and stroke it down their coat. If they’re averse to getting wet, stick with brushes, combs, and fur sprays.
Offer copious amounts of physical affection.
Like you, cats love being showered with affection and respond to it with their own. Pay attention to how your cat prefers to be pet.
Whether they favor chin scratches or head bumps, you should offer that as often as possible.
If they’re a more vocal breed, don’t hesitate to chat with them about your day and keep them engaged. Show your cat you care, and they’ll show you the same.
Make sure they’re well-fed.
Your cat depends on you for all its daily needs, so it makes perfect sense that the way to your cat’s heart is through its stomach.
Be sure to offer your cat a healthy, well-rounded diet that includes many treats.
Give them plenty of variety, mix wet foods into their kibble now and then, and keep their schedule consistent.
Your cat will not likely forget who’s filling their bowl, and they’ll appreciate it every time you do.
Can cats be good emotional support animals?
As naturally relaxed creatures sensitive to their owner’s feelings, cats are an excellent option for an emotional support animal!
They’re remarkably intelligent and bond deeply, allowing them to connect in a way that supports their owner’s mental health.
This sensitivity and laid-back demeanor can be calming and supportive.
Depending on their owners’ lifestyle and mental health needs, cats may even be a better ESA option than dogs!
Cats don’t require as stringent of a routine, which is a significant benefit to owners whose mental health struggles result in lethargy.
Travelers and frequent movers who need their ESA to join them in the journey will find that TSA pet carriers will suffice for almost every feline breed.
Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or have plans for your cat colony, understanding your cat’s emotions can be an intimidating process.
Communicating your affection can be done in simple, easy ways like offering extra treats and pets, but you have to make sure you’re listening too!
Your cat will show you how they’re feeling with their habits and behavior, and it’s up to you to respond. A well-fed, well-loved kitty will love you back; it just might take a little bit of effort on your part!