“Does your cat love you?”
It is a serious question. So serious in fact, that it’s been the subject of scientific studies. It’s as serious as saying the earth is round when it was flat. It stirs people up and they argue about it. The latest scientific study says, your cat does not love you per se, it’s simply doing what is good for it. An older study argues that your cat does in fact get attached to you – as a child would.
I cannot believe people are spending money on studying this! Besides, the main premise is faulty…. ambiguous.
As a cat lover myself, I like to believe that the feeling is mutual. However… I’d have to ask: how do we define love? The dictionary is always handy, but the cat is sitting on my lap and I do not want to disturb her by getting up, so we will skip that. Instead, an example. Think of a child…a new born. He suckles at his mother’s breasts and purrs while lovingly looking into her eyes. We call that love or attachment. But it is simply an expression of the pleasure of being fed from the giver of life. The feeder, the provider of nourishment… call it goddess. What could be more divine than that! And we call it … love. Feeding applies to being nourished in other ways too, intellectually, sensually, spiritually…
In Arabic, there are more than a dozen words to describe that feeling of love… each with a different taste and intensity – including romantic love and friendship. One of my favourites is Ishq – thirsting for love. Or Shawq… longing. Now to think of it, most Arabic love words imply a yearning, a missing, a wanting but not having… few words describe being in or having love. Which words are those? Al-khillah maybe…
Now cat, I really should get up and check this out...
I think back to The Scientific American. It was the only edition of the magazine I ever bought and I’ve carried it around since then… when was it… 2007 give or take. I could get up and find it, but you guessed it, Bagheera is still sitting. She’s my writing companion. She helps me stay seated. Of course, she’s doing it for herself. I have a good lap and can stay cross legged for a long time. That’s why the cats choose me before my husband. He can’t sit still so long. When I am not around, they do sit on him. That’s love. But back to Scientific American.
The study broke down love to the hormonal and instinctive desire to reproduce. It’s very unromantic, but it makes a lot of sense. It also says that once the feelings of love/lust/desire subside, then the couple needs to engage in intimacy to keep the bond, caressing one another and looking into each other’s eyes. Interesting is that… love makes us do these things, but when we do these things, we also experience love. It’s like the lemniscate… infinity.
So… the conclusion is… there is no conclusion. Love is…beyond scientific study… it just is (or isn’t it)… once we find it in ourselves (and for ourselves) we can find it in everyone we meet… it is not bound to a place or a person… it just is – whether we see it or not. Some mystics say that the act of creation is the greatest act of love. The ultimate orgasm… the meeting of waves and shorelines. Love is recognising the life in everything….
As for my cats… I’d say, they love me… but they can surely do without me. That’s the thing, you can love and still move on and love something else… because love flows… it’s just that some people are better at giving and receiving it.
And with this… as my legs begin to lose all sensation… I will have to disturb Bagheera and go eat with my beloved. She’ll excuse me, because that’s just how cats are.
In the photo above is Bagheera enjoying fresh catnip. In such times, it’s best not to disturb her – she could get aggressive. “Never get between a cat and her catnip” is thus the lesson of the day.
But wait… weren’t we talking about love?