Before we can say whether a cat can fall in love or not, we need to define what cats think love is. It is a fact, cats are quite capable of feeling affection for another animal (dog, cat, horse...) but also for their human. And for good reason, contrary to what we tend to believe, our feline friends are social animals.
In fact, in the wild, they prefer to live in groups. However, unlike a pack, they hunt alone. Instead, they sleep close together and take care of each other, including grooming each other. In the case of domestic cats, their group is limited to family members with whom they share their living space. It is very important to them that each member of the group shares a common and familiar smell. For this reason, they usually rub up against their humans as soon as they get home. The aim? To replace the foreign smell from outside with the more reassuring smell of the group.
Just like humans, cats are sensitive and can feel all kinds of emotions. But is love one of them? Can felines fall in love with another cat? With their humans? Let’s find out!
The cat, an animal that loves us... in its own way
To say that cats can fall in love would be an overstatement. In fact, love is such a special and mysterious feeling that we are still unable to say if animals can feel such an emotion. What is certain, however, is that cats can indeed feel affection for members of their species and for their humans. This affection may be more or less pronounced. Indeed, some cats will show little sign of affection, while others will seem to be literally overflowing with love.
To show affection, a cat will rub its cheeks or even its body against its beloved human. By rubbing or licking you, a cat will deposit its scent and thus show that you belong to the same group. This may not be very romantic, but for a cat it is a great sign of affection.
Another sure sign of affection is blinking. Studies have shown that looking into a cat's eyes is a threat to them, whereas a gentle blink is a very positive signal of reassurance. A cat that blinks in our presence is a happy and relaxed cat. A nice proof of love, isn't it?
The signs of love that don't deceive
To know if your cat is happy with you, observe his behaviour. He should be generally calm and confident, with no signs of stress. A cat that loves you usually displays at least some of these behaviours:
- Your cat seeks out your presence and comes to you
- Your cat rubs himself against you
- Your cat sometimes licks or bites you
- Your cat kneads you and/or shows you its belly when you cuddle him
- Your cat holds its tail up, with the tip curved
- Your cat brings you prey as a gift
In any case, cats are able to show affection to their owners, even when it is not feeding time. As for their behaviour with other cats, strong friendships can also be formed, all in an unselfish way. But whether this is love is another matter…
How do cats show love between each other
The behaviour that cats have with each other is not so different from the behaviour they have with humans.
Cats that get along will show that they belong together by rubbing their cheeks and bodies together. They will sleep in close proximity or even curl up together. A behaviour that makes the hearts of humans turn over.
But the ultimate proof of love is mutual grooming. This is a very strong sign of belonging that only the closest cats will practice with each other.
All these behaviours are therefore a sign of a very strong social bond. A sign of love that may be insufficient in the eyes of some, but from a cat's point of view, is sincere.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that when two cats mate, it is not out of love but out of instinct. Indeed, the sexual impulses of animals have nothing to do with love. They are primarily driven by the need to reproduce. At the risk of disappointing some, the female cat has a long-term vision. She chooses her breeding male according to very specific criteria: his good health and his ability to transmit his genes.
So can a cat fall in love?
We've all heard and seen stories of felines who are particularly attached to their owners. It is not uncommon for a lost cat to be reunited with its owners after having travelled hundreds of miles. There are also stories of cats dying of grief after the death of their beloved human.
Between cats, there are also stories of very strong attachments. This sometimes involves animals from the same litter, but can also occur between complete strangers brought together by chance. Sometimes even between a cat and different species. Very often two males or two females can be extremely close. This behaviour is therefore not dictated by the instinct to reproduce, but rather by affection.
We sometimes refer to a cat that shows a strong attachment to another cat, human or other animal as "love". But as you can see, this has nothing to do with love like us humans would define it, but it is a very real and powerful feeling!