What to do
If you love your cat more than your cat loves you
Over the years, I’ve had several cats and have deeply loved all of them. I’ve painted portraits of many, and this pastel of dear Red is how I’ve seen each and every one—cuddly and adorable, engaged, trusting, and, above all, loving.
But the loving part? Sometimes I think I’ve been deluding myself all along. What about the times, more frequent than I’d like to admit, when I reach to pet Blue and she pulls away? What about Zeke, who insists on sleeping on top of me all night but runs in terror from me during the day? What about Clyde's well-practiced expression of seeming to look right into my eyes, but on closer inspection I recognize the look is going right through me? And of course, any time the carrier or a pill bottle comes out, the claws come out too, and biting is definitely not ‘off limits’ despite the fact that I'm acting for their own good.
photo credit: Readers' Digest
When I’m being honest with myself, I must admit the very real possibility—probability even—that my cats don’t love me as much as I love them. And that hurts.
So, what to do about it? I have a few ‘go-to’ strategies which help more or less. If you're in this same situation, you may find them more or less helpful as well. (Let me know how they work for you.)
First, ignore the problem. For me, it's easy enough. I'm so used to the interactions within the household that I don't often fret about the cats' standard attitude of indifference towards me. The trick with this one, though, is to catch my concern early on and quickly employ the ignoring strategy. Concern with the possibility of being unloved can get a foothold pretty quickly if I don't deal with it ASAP.
Second, take comfort in the reality that I’m incapable of truly understanding cat communication. What that means is the furry darlings may indeed be showing signs of deep affection, but I’m simply misinterpreting them.
For example, I know (or think I know) when my cat sits on my lap and repeated digs her claws into my knee, it's not an attack. It's at least a sign of contentment, and perhaps it's fair, for the desperate at least, to see it as a sign of love.
Or maybe I'm missing the true meaning of another common behaviors. What about weaving through my legs when I'm inconsiderately trying to walk from one room to another? What if that's his way of saying 'hey, slow down there! You're way too tense, and that's not good for you. Remember - I care about you!'
And what about stomping around on my back in the middle of the night meowling the whole time? Could she be saying 'I love you?' Maybe not. But still...
Third, simply be grateful I have cats in my life. Practicing gratitude is, these days, an often touted approach to combating negative feelings, so I suppose it could help in this case. Why not?
Fourth, recognize the power of love for its own sake. And, going even further, remember the time-honored adage "it’s better to give than to receive.” Cats give us ample opportunity for betterment!
So, what's the bottom line? It's simple. I love my cats, and I love them the way they are. Maybe I should go to the local rescue and adopt another one!