One of the most common myths about cats is that they are aloof, independent and not affectionate. People routinely mislabel cats are solitary as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem with our perception is that we keep comparing cats and dogs and trying to show that one species is better than the other. The truth is that they’re just different.
No Aloofness Here
Cats are very tuned into their environment because they’re hardwired as predators. Their keen senses are on high alert for the sight, sound or smell of potential prey. So what you may interpret as a cat being aloof is actually your exquisitely designed companion being ready for anything. Just because your cat may not jump to immediate attention when you call her name, doesn’t mean she’s aloof – she’s focused.
Cats show affection is so many ways and you might even not notice some of the more subtle ones. Your cat doesn’t have to be a lap cat to be affectionate. She may enjoy sitting next to you or maybe even a several inches away but that doesn’t mean she’s not affectionate. Think about how many times your cat has rubbed her head against you (head bunting), given you one of those slow-blink cat kisses, rubbed alongside of you, purred or given you some scratchy-tongue kisses. Those are all signs of affection. Most cats enjoy being petted as well but not necessarily in the same way you pet your dog. No belly rubs for the kitty, please, or else you’ll trigger a defensive response. Some cats may also have preferences when it comes to where on the body they like being petted or for how long.
While it’s true that in general, cats can be kept home alone for longer periods that dogs, they are still dependent on us and are not low-maintenance companions. The misconception that cats are independent and require little or no care causes many of them to suffer needlessly both physically and emotionally.
Cats need your companionship and in fact, some will go through separation anxiety if left alone too often or for too long – something most people only associate with their canine counterparts.
Solitary or Social?
Cats are constantly called solitary creatures and it’s inaccurate. Cats are social animals. The misconception may come from the fact that because they are small predators they often hunt alone because they go after prey that will only supply enough food for one.
I believe the other factor that causes people to become confused about a cat’s social structure is that they’re territorial so relationships must go through the delicate process of identifying and negotiating turf issues.
Need More Information?
For more specific information on understanding your cat, refer to any of Pam’s books, including Think Like a Cat.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.