Every cat owner knows that cats feel love, but where’s the proof? Read on to learn more about all the ways we know how much our cats love us.
Do cats feel love? Any cat owner will tell you they do, but could we be exercising wishful thinking, projecting our own emotions onto our cats, or do they feel love like we do? In the spirit of Valentine’s Day — and our own desire to settle the question — we’ve compiled a list of anecdotal and scientific evidence to prove once and for all that cats do feel love.
1. Cats are loyal and form strong attachments to us.
People think of dogs as loyal and cats as aloof. Cats have boundaries that are less forgiving than dogs. Nonetheless, cats can be fiercely loyal and form strong bonds with their humans. Some so strong that cats have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles through places they’ve never been to find their owners.
2. Cats love us even when we’re down.
Many cats seem to know when their owners are sad or depressed, and react with affection or simply by spending more time nearby. Cats don’t expect us to be always-on or perfect. They accept us no matter how bad we feel. There are many cases of cats that have grown closer to a sick family member and stayed by that person’s side through their illness. Cats make great service animals at hospitals and senior centers. They just want our love and companionship — they expect nothing in return.
3. Cats have the same “love hormones” we do.
Cats have been found to release the “love hormone” oxytocin when they interact with each other and with humans. Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, and his team discovered the connection. Zak wrote in The Atlantic that the brain chemical oxytocin was first found to be released when a new mother interacted with her baby, but also in many casual — and especially intimate — human interactions, creating intense feelings of love. He believes the hormone creates feelings of love in cats, too.
4. Cats protect us when we’re in danger.
Our cats are always looking out for us. Cats have both been seen defending their owners from threats, big and small. They’ve been known to risk their lives for their owners. One kitty we know of fought off a poisonous snake and took the bite that was meant for her owner. Another helped save her entire family — and the family dog!
5. Cats give us unconditional love.
Maybe most of all, we know cats feel love from the unconditional love they give to us. No one knows for sure if your cat is judging you, but either way, cats give us plenty of affection — and not just when a meal is about to be served. Unless a cat has had a traumatic history with humans, she will seek out her owner for affection in the form of play, stroking, or perhaps a chat. And you know a serene and loving cat by her purr.
While we may never know what’s truly in the mind of an animal, we know how our cats act towards us, how they behave when we need them, and when they’re happy and content. We’re pretty sure the case is closed: cats really do feel love.