Do Cats Know How to Love?

Written by: Mary Shull

Are you a cat owner? If so, you will probably say yes, cats love their owners. If not, you may say, “What! A cat is an animal. They don’t experience love!” But ask any pet owner and you can bet the answer will be “Yes, my pet loves me!”

Momma cat and baby

Momma cat and her baby

Studies have shown that animals know pain and fear. All have the “fight or flight” instinct that is hardwired in the body, similar to humans. But cats also have learned to manipulate their owners through sound or “cries.” Certain cries draw certain responses from the owner. It’s just a matter of the cat learning which one benefits them for their particular need or want. Once learned, that cry is used over and over. Cats not only communicate verbally but also with their body. Ever notice your cat rubbing up against your legs, wagging their tail, or kneading with their paws/claws? How about a cat’s ears? We’ve learned that when they’re flattened back against the head, the cat feels threatened. All of these are bodily signs that owners eventually learn to interpret.

So, does a cat know how to love? Scientific studies cannot prove this, so basically it’s up to humans to determine the answer individually. Maybe we should ask ourselves, “What is love?” Wikipedia defines love as “an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is a virtue representing all of ‘human’ kindness, compassion, and affection; and the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” So for instance, when a cat has kittens; does the concern and care she shows for her babies constitute love? When a cat jumps in our lap and curls up for a nap, does the cat just want a comfortable place to lie down? When a cat rubs against our legs or purrs when we pet them, does that mean we’ve been manipulated?

Being a cat owner for many years, I can only answer these questions with what I believe and that is “YES,” cats know love and cats show love. I believe it is definitely different than human love, but it is a form of love as we know it. Cats show affection and cats bond with their owners which is a form of personal attachment. As pet owners, we should be grateful that cats have this capacity and that we are able to share this and enjoy the happiness it brings.

Animal Shelter Closures Place Lost Pets at Risk

Cats are less likely than dogs to be returned to owners if lost.

Most lost cats are never returned to their owners.

Written by: Tamar Auber

The economic downtown has not spared our four legged friends. Several animal shelters throughout the United States shuttered their doors at the end of 2011 or are at risk of imminent closure, leaving many homeless and lost  pets literally out in the cold. The last hope for many cats and dogs, these non-profit animal organizations, such as the Kindred Spirit Animal Rescue in Ripley County, MO, cite the high cost of operations and lack of volunteers for the closings. As animal lovers, the news is disheartening. Less shelters mean that less deserving pets will be rescued or find homes in the coming year and many more may be left outside and vulnerable to being hit by cars or death by exposure. Yet as pet parents, another less obvious risk could ultimately harm our beloved pets. Without adequate shelters, what will happen to our furry friends if they are lost?

Animal shelters are often a first stop on the search when your cat or dog goes missing. Fortunately, most shelters regularly work hard reunite owners with their lost pets whenever possible. Shelter staff often rely on microchips or tattoos to reunify pets and owners. According to the ASPCA, animals with permanent markers are far more likely to be returned. However, once one local shelter has closed, remaining animal resources are bound to be overcrowded. This means fewer resources and less time will be available to care for and identify your pet and track you down if she is separated from you.

In fact, the lack of a well funded shelter for your lost pet can be downright deadly to your precious pooch or feline. At some overcrowded and under-funded animal shelters, such as California  facilities, owners are given only a few days to claim their pets before their pets risk being euthanized. A critical lack of staffing at some shelters also means that your pet may not easily be identified as owned by the shelter staff. Such is the case at the Miami-Dade Shelter which makes it clear that with its high volume of intake that the responsibility is on the owner, not the shelter to identify your lost pet. This trend will only continue as funding for animal care facilities decreases and shelters close, placing your pet at greater risk if she is ever lost.

As animal lovers and responsible pet owners, then, it is very important that we both support our local shelters and invest in micro-chipping or other ways to identify your pet, which is the fastes and easiest way to reunite owner with pet.

Many local shelters have an on-line wish list of items needed for their animal friends and donations of any form and any amount is welcome. If you cannot invest in pet care products or cash, consider volunteering at your local shelter. While you may end up cleaning cages or filing paperwork, your extra hands will allow the staff more time to care for homeless animals and help reunite lost pets.

Finally, if your pet is not micro-chipped or tattooed, ask your local ASPCA or veterinary service about the procedure. Micro-chipping is a safe, cost-effective way to help your pet find her way back home and ensure your lost pet does not end up in an overcrowded and understaffed animal shelter.