The stereotype is one so cemented in our thoughts that it sparks multiple internet memes. The two most popular household pets are split into the following category:
Dog: thinks you’re amazing, relentlessly seeks your approval and deeply loves you. When you go out, your dog will wait high with anticipation and be delighted when they see you again – even if you only left for five minutes.
Cats: don’t really think about you at all, unless they’re hungry or want something. Cats don’t care about much. Their only response when you return from a six-month holiday is a bemused “did you leave?” and then miaowing for food.
So that’s the split: dogs love you, cats don’t really care. Is it accurate?
Yes and no.
It depends on how you define love. When they are afraid or upset, dogs will look to their owners for reassurance. Cats won’t. Studies have been done that link this need for comfort to the idea of love, but it’s not the best way of judging things.
Cats can love humans; can become very attached to them outside of seeing them as heat and food providers. Cats can get separation anxiety if separated from their human, as many vets and cattery owners will have witnessed during overnight stays.
Of course, cats can love. No, it’s not the exuberant, jumping-all-over-you love that a dog exhibits – but it is love.
If you’re still not feeling it, then there’s reassurance in the way that your cat behaves towards you. If they do any of the following, you’re okay by their standards, and they see you as someone to be trusted. If that’s not a definition of love, then what is?
1. Approaching You With Their Tail Held High
Cat body language is hugely focused around the tail. It can show if they are being defensive, aggressive – or just plain pleased to see you. If your kitten or cat walks towards you with their tail held high and vertical, then that’s their way of saying: “what are you doing? Can I join in?”
2. Nipping You
Note there is a big difference between an affection nip of teeth and a bite. A nip won’t hurt; it’s usually done when you are grooming your kitty, a mutual sign of affection. It more tickles than hurts and should be greeted with warmth.
3. Nuzzling You
Cats have a huge amount of scent glands on their face, and when they nuzzle something, they are marking it as their territory. If they nuzzle you, they’re saying that you’re included in their gang.
4. Dozing On You
If a cat lays down on you and dozes, then they have a massive amount of trust in you. Cats are most vulnerable when they are dozing or sleeping, and if they are willing to do that while occupying a space with you, it’s an intense sign of love.