A fair question to ask is whether cats really care about anything except having a place to go for 3 meals a day. They are commonly thought of as aloof little creatures. Anything that has been labeled with the idea that you don’t feed them lest they will forever be meowing at your door cannot be trusted.
Cats caterwaul and approach us with an attitude when they need something other than food, but that is the rare moment. They cannot be bothered with the social niceties of life, such as wagging their tails as a display of affection or licking our faces as a sign of gratitude (not that we want that from a cat anyway).
But if we were to stay away ourselves, such as go on a long vacation, do these furry friends actually miss us? My cat would sit in the window and look outside (for as much as 25% of the day according to research) and when returning from grocery shopping they would gladly greet us. Of course, he thought that I bought his weekly treat of primo cat food (which I did). Most of the other times he would just continue gazing out the window.
Recently, someone decided to actually research this question and discovered, not surprisingly, that cats tend to be solitary creatures; solitary survivors was the term given to their nature. People need their downtime from other people, but the amount of time varies and then we seek some type of human interaction. As for cats, they tend to be just as happy or even happier without us around. It seems like a betrayal, given all the time we spend trying to make them happy and now discover it is primarily a one-sided deal.
One odd thing the research showed is that if your cat seems lonely it may be a sign they are stressed out. That’s right, when you cat seems lonely they actually are more likely to want to be away from you than around you. If you ever went to pick up your cat and have them push away from you, it’s possible you’ve just maxed out their stress level. What makes things even worse is those same signs of max stress are also the ones your cat exhibits if they are physically ill. It seems like a no-win scenario.
Finally, the research seems to show that the older your cat gets, the less they need you around. If you have teenage children you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s why most people think kittens are more adorable than cats, and wonder why they ever have to grow up. The biggest difference between your teenager and a grown cat is that there will come a time when one of them will actually miss you. But the truth is, which one it is will be something that may take years.
If you are seeking some type of equity in this “Who needs you?” relationship with your cat, it is recommended that you get a kitten that is a couple of years younger than your main furry squeeze. Kittens will demand a large amount of attention, and that will annoy the older cat to no end.
As much as we may love our furry friends, we have to admit that there are times we don’t want them around as well. Their furball tendencies and dragging in the dead rodent as a prize catch are things we can do without on our weekends off. And if we forget to feed them we can count on hearing about it sooner than later.
Despite the research, cat lovers don’t want to start a Kitty Be Gone euthanasia center. Like people, we tend to accept them for who they are – flaws and all. We all love the stories of the cats who return to their owner years after being lost. When we worry about them because they have disappeared and think they might have used up all 9 lives, we are overjoyed to see them show up at the door for dinner time.
Even when they stroll past us and look at us, acting like “What took you so long?”
Yeah, the research is right. Cats just don’t miss us as much as we miss them. We have learned to unconsciously accept that reality. Sometimes science can tell us things we really don’t want to know.