Do Cats Know and Express Love?

Do Cats Know and Express Love?

Learn how cats show their love to each other — and to you, too.


By: Jennifer Viegas

Some of us are incurable romantics — but we also think that feelings and expressions of love exist only within our species. But what about cats and other animals? Does anything akin to love exist in their world? The answer may surprise you, as it turns the love mirror back on us, revealing mysteries about our own struggles with l’amour.

Love Redefined
Love turns out to be a valuable brain-initiated mechanism for species survival. It permits alliances between individuals, such as males and females or parents and children, to facilitate breeding and infant care.

Domestic housecats have no need for extended male-female love in regard to reproduction. They then go their separate ways fairly quickly after mating, with mothers handling all parental duties.

Lions are the one exception among cats, according to Jonathan Balcombe, author of the best-selling book “ Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good.” Male lions actually care for their cubs, he explains.

What Does Your Cat Think of You?
“Cats recognize we’re not cats,” says Balcombe, so the bond between you and your cat has no direct equal. Instead, Balcombe believes cats view us in various ways, depending on the circumstance. When you groom, pet or hold your cat, you may become like a mother or beloved sibling, since cats associate these activities with kittenhood and experiences shared among brothers and sisters.

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Balcombe suspects cats also value companionship. He admits that selfish reasons, such as a warm lap on a cold day, might sometimes motivate felines, but there are times when companionship alone is the only reward.

Feel the Love
Since love is tied to pleasure seeking and personal rewards, you can demonstrate your fondness for your cat in ways that your feline friend will understand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try grasping and massaging your cat at the back of its neck, Balcombe advises. That’s what your cat’s mother did, so you will be giving your pet some motherly love.
  • Schedule regular grooming sessions with your cat in addition to frequent massages. Felines are very tactile creatures, so touch is key.
  • Cats exude contented absorption when kneading, Balcombe says. This is another activity linked to mother-kitten interaction. Instead of wincing when your cat may knead on you, place a blanket on your lap to absorb the claw piercing.
  • Playing helps to ease tension and to promote trust-forming hormones. Be sure to play with your cat as much as possible.

Also know that your relationship probably isn’t one-sided, either.

“Love, warmth and caring seem to be expressed by cats,” Balcombe says.



Jennifer is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.

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Yes my cat does show that he loves me by snuggling and he likes to be cradled and rocked to sleep as he purrrrrrrr away contently

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shellyj

shellyj

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yes my cat gives me headbonks to give me love she is very funny she also think my bed is all hers

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Daluvbug

Daluvbug

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My cat will lay at the front door until someone comes home and no matter what when he hears Mom coming home he stops and runs to greet me and when I'm at home except to use the litterbox or morning feed he will lay in bed with me until not only I awake but until I leave the bedroom and he sits in the livingroom with me if I am in it or until he notices I'm not there so he'll come search for me. When I'm down the basement he's right at my side where usually he's only downstairs long enough to pee

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Dublin's been part of my life for 6 years now, and in that time, he's been showing me love in countless ways. One of the sweetest ever was at the end of a day in which I'd been upset. He had been quite concerned, and that evening, he snatched his favourite toys up in his mouth and dropped it into my lap. Oh, how much love was in that simple gesture! Cats do so much to show their care and concern for their hoomins, to thank us and just because they love us. Pure darlings!!

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Shalryn

Shalryn

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Cats most certainly express love. When they follow you everywhere or tend to sleep in your company, that's love. When they head-bump you or rub up against your legs, that's love. When they bring you "presents" (usually one of the neighbors of the rodent variety), or when they offer you the slow blink or silent meow, that's love. When they progress beyond the cat toys and decide to play tag or hide-and-seek with you, that's love.

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