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Do Cats Have Love Languages?

May 4, 2013

It’s been said that people have love languages, and now I can’t help but think that our cats have love languages, too.

Photo courtesy Gloson.

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago when I reread the book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts.

I originally read it before I got married (I was trying to gain as much wisdom as possible last minute!), and thought it brought up a number of interesting points: Namely, there are different ways that each of us feel and express love, called “love languages.” Of those ways, each of us has one or even a few love languages that make us feel especially loved, and if we don’t feel love in those ways, issues in the relationship may evolve.

The five love languages mentioned include quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. While the book is directed toward spouses, I couldn’t help but feel that these love languages may also apply, in different degrees, to everyone around us – including our cats. And I honestly don’t think I’m too crazy.

Here’s a quick look at how I feel we “speak” these love languages to our cats and how they “speak” them back:

Quality Time

Pet parent to cat: Cats are known to be very independent creatures, but I think spending quality time with them (playing, combing, petting them, etc.), truly helps build our bond with them. I think for some cats, this is especially important. For example, if they don’t receive love from you, chances are they won’t approach you for love. But if you do seek them out and spend time doing something you both enjoy (even if it’s just sitting with them on the couch), you can guarantee that they’ll approach you more often.

Photo courtesy aki.sato.

Cat to pet parent: Again, if you’re looking for your cat to want to spend quality time with you, odds are you need to put in some effort too. I’ll get this request for quality time from our cats throughout the day while I’m working. I’ll usually hear a slight meow, which will cause me to turn to see a little furry body sitting on the carpet next to me. Most times I’ll scoop him or her up and give them a quick snuggle and kiss, because I never want them to stop coming to me for love. Other times, they’ll simply take over the situation, almost as if they’re saying “OK, we’re going to snuggle/play now!” and I love it.

Words of Affirmation

Pet parent to cat: OK, be honest, who doesn’t speak to their cat at least now and then? Especially if your cat is being extra sweet? Even if you speak minimally to your cats, I’d guess that one of the things you say to them (I hope!) is something like “Nice kitty.” If you’re more like me, you probably have more of a constant dialogue praising their accomplishments – and cuteness.

Cat to pet parent: What first comes to mind here is pretty obvious: Purring. In general, when our cats are happy, they purr. Now, I know purring is more complicated than that, but I think it still holds true. When their purr box turns on, our cats are communicating their pleasure, their enjoyment. It confirms that they’re having a good time. Plus, your cat may also meow to you – something house cats do to communicate with humans. A chirp or trill may be their way of saying “Hi! It’s good to see you!”

Gifts

Pet parent to cat: Oh my, a whole industry has been made around this concept. We give our cats toys of every kind, treats, even cat trees and beds can count as gifts. These are all things that (hopefully!) enhance our cats’ lives.

Cat to pet parent: When it comes to gifts from your cat, I feel that they may often align with quality time. A head-butt may be a gift, as could a kiss. Quality time in and of itself may be a gift. If you don’t buy that, think about indoor-outdoor cats who bring their pet parents a present – like a dead chipmunk or bird. Even indoor cats may leave you gifts like socks pulled from the laundry!

Acts of Service

Pet parent to cat: While some cats may not realize all you do for them (feed them, scoop their boxes, etc.), I truly believe some do. If you’ve ever had to give a poop-and-litter-coated kitten a bath (after he fell in his mess in the litter box), you may know what I mean. It’s not a fun job to wash the cat off, but afterward, some pet parents report a sense that their cat is grateful for the help. This reminds us that not all acts of service go unnoticed.

Photo courtesy Malingering.

Cat to pet parent: To be honest, I struggled a bit with this one. How do our cats show us love through acts of service? Part of me thinks this also ties into quality time and gifts, but I suppose there could be more to it than that. Going back to the indoor-outdoor cat example, those cats may show you love by killing vermin, and keeping them out of your house.

Physical Touch

Pet parent to cat: I believe that physical touch is at the core of the human-cat relationship. It’s the one behavior that we all likely do without thinking. It’s automatic. People pet cats. But it’s more than that. When you pet a cat, you’re getting close to the cat physically and emotionally. You’re taking pleasure from the experience, and you’re giving pleasure.

Cat to pet parent: Remember all of those times your cat rubbed up against your legs, kneaded your belly, or head-butted you? It’s more than just cute, it’s your cat’s way of claiming you as his. Cats only approach humans they feel comfortable with, and they only get especially close to those they consider family. Learn more about cat body language here.

So what do you think? Do you think our cats have love languages – even though they may not be tied to this theory? Either way, I think there’s something to it, and in my next post I’ll explain why by going through my two CH cats’ love languages!

What do you think are your cat’s “love languages”? What are other ways your cat shows you love? Please share in the comments!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2013 9:12 am

    In terms of “Acts of Service,” a few of my cats know when my mood is shifting for the worst. When they sense this, they spend extra time with me, snuggle close, and one of them usually puts their head beneath my hand. It makes all the difference. They’re my friends that hold my hand through the darkness.

  2. May 4, 2013 9:35 am

    Definitely and my cats don’t speak the same. 😉

  3. Lauren Torggler permalink
    May 5, 2013 7:38 am

    Definitely! I agree with Colleen on the acts of service thing. While I was recovering from surgery recently, Mimosa was glued to my lap, like she knew I didn’t feel well. She will also sometimes groom/clean me after she is done grooming herself. Maybe it has nothing to do with actually making me clean, but it’s so cute to watch, and it’s only after she’s done “grooming” herself.

  4. Jess J. permalink
    July 28, 2017 9:40 am

    Ditto to Colleen and Lauren… our kitties know when we’re sick (sometimes even before we do), and while they usually try to maintain some space between each other, they will often both glomp onto us and snuggle, lay on, and rub us regardless of how close they are to the other… almost like an unspoken truce/alliance for a greater cause.

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