Felines are profoundly complex and emotive creatures. They covet and cherish, celebrate and condemn. Each day is wrought with unusual challenges in their strange private worlds. There are games and distractions and then dark moods and sleep. Even their bodies are highly sophisticated bundles of sensation. Each hair, each whisker probes the world for nuance. They delight at any possibility.
Scientists have found that cats have the same basic mental construction as people. While they might not have the memory or range as their upright friends, the basic hardware is clearly there. So what does the cat think? What does it feel? How does it relate to us human beings?
Lesbian theorist Camille Paglia describes feline emotion thusly:
Cats are prowlers, uncanny creatures of the night. Cruelty and play are one for them…They live by and for fear, practicing being scared or spooking humans by sudden rushings and ambushes. Cats dwell in the occult, that is, the “hidden”…the cat really is in league with chthonian nature, Christianity’s mortal enemy…Compared to dogs, slavishly eager to please, cats are autocrats of naked self-interest. They are both amoral and immoral, consciously breaking rules. Their “evil” look at such times is no human projection: the cat may be the only animal who savors the perverse or reflects upon it.
One recent study noted that cats intentionally mimic the sound of a human baby to get their owner’s attention. They know we have emotional vulnerabilities and use them to their advantage. Furthermore, many cats see the human environment as a territory they dominate. You, the human owner, are just an interloper. When you cross them in their territory, vengeance is all but certain. There are countless examples of cats shredding favorite sweaters, urinating vindictively and even causing humans to have household accidents.
Reviewing the wide range of scientific and anecdotal evidence, we start to see something quite fascinating about the felines. They see us as chefs and servants. They take advantage of our servile attitude to defecate indoors. Their diets are unpredictable and demanding. They can get quite fussy one moment and cold the next. Those rare moments when everything goes well in the house, they’ll reward us with indifference.
Do cats look down on their human owners? The unfortunate answer is undoubtedly yes. They find us barely tolerable and hate our noises and smells and habits. This contempt they show by monopolizing the house when we’re away and hiding when we’re home. As a species, they harbor an unearned superiority complex which puts them on a pedestal you could never hope of achieving. They draw no connection between the comfort of the home and the work you, as a human, must put in to achieving such a sanctuary. They simply despise your presence and if wasn’t for your ability to feed them, they could care less about you.
The most surprising element of a cat’s emotional intelligence is that they do not think enough of the human species to even bother hating them. They feel so incredibly superior that you’re barely a blip in their existence. At best, you’re something warm to scratch in the night and something obnoxious to avoid in the daytime. Many humans have yet to realize this and indeed, the cat plays the game quite well. Not only is he a cruel creature, but also a manipulative one. Generations of owners continue to fall for these masterful tricks.
The important lesson we need to learn today is that while feline emotionality is rich, when it’s directed at humans, it’s almost exclusively negative. It ranges from contempt to indifference, with a heavy layer of condescension. No, your cat most certainly does not love you.