The internet is awash with listicles claiming your cats love you, insisting you’ll know for sure once you’re able to recognize the signs.
Well we’re here to tell you that love is a strong word, and if you’re lucky your cat merely acknowledges your existence, human. Here are the 10 feline behaviors most commonly mistaken for love:
Grooming: “Grooming means one thing, and one thing only: We think you’re gross and you need a bath,” Buddy the Cat says. “You’re disgusting creatures, allowing your dead skin cells to accumulate all over you without washing them off until you take those horrific ‘showers.’ I could take a claw right now, run it down your arm, and come up with enough dead skin cells to season a salad. Now that’s nasty.”
Kneading: “The Feline Propaganda Ministry seeded a story that kneading is some sort of affectionate behavior left over from kittenhood, and that by kneading you, we’re identifying you as our surrogate moms. That’s hilarious,” says Buddy. “We’re simply tenderizing our meat.”
Head boops: “In ancient Rome, slaveowners would mark their property with brands or tattoos saying ‘PROPERTY OF POMPEY MAGNUS’ and that sort of thing. That’s what we’re doing with head boops. We’re using the pheromone glands on our heads and cheeks to mark you as our slaves, so other cats don’t try to lay claim to you.”
Bringing you presents: “You humans eat the most disgusting food, like broccoli, potatoes and oranges, which are particularly revolting. When we bring you presents, we’re trying to fatten you up for later when we eat you.”
Sleeping on you. “You’re warm. End of,” Buddy explains. “By sleeping on top of you, we also ensure you aren’t going anywhere, and will be available to fetch us snacks should we wake up hungry.”
Putting our butts in your face: “You like that? Sniff it, human servant!”
Tails held straight up: “The tips of our tails are actually quite sharp, and we brandish them like weapons. Weapons that say ‘There will be no disobedience or dilly-dallying here. Run along now and fetch us some yums.'”
Meowing: “There is no equivalent for ‘please’ in meowenese. We meow because we know you’re hopelessly obtuse creatures and you can’t read the simplest tail, ear or whisker movements. Meowing is like speaking slowly to a child who’s had too many head injuries. ‘Massage…my…head…human. That’s a good human!'”
Purring: “A purr is just a quiet roar. It means we’re happily thinking of ways to kill you.”
Tolerating you: “Humans often mistake grudging acceptance for love. Just because we tolerate you doesn’t mean we love you. It means you provide useful services, but if that calculus should change — say, by providing subpar treats or not serving wet meals as delicious as the ones served by the neighbor two houses down — then we’ll simply move house.”
If you’re like most cat servants, you’ve wondered about that at least a few times, laboring under the misconception that we can’t communicate our feelings. (We can, but you humans are not smart enough to see what’s in front of your faces!)
The internet is peppered with absurd listicles that supposedly answer the question of whether your cat loves you. They claim proximity, purring, slow-blinking and grooming are signs of affection, again because most humans are incapable of complex thought and simply cannot fathom the motivations of a superior species.
Because I am a benevolent feline, and one who is burdened with a particularly dense human, I present to you an authentic list of signs that your kitty … well, love is a strong word, isn’t it? Let’s call it a list of 10 Signs That Your Kitty Tolerates You:
We don’t eat you. You might think that we can’t eat you because we’re not as big as tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards. You would be wrong, as humans frequently are. We have no qualms about eating humans when there are no other options, although if we’re being completely honest we’d eat just about anything before resigning ourselves to that.
We tolerate your proximity. Did you know that for many thousands of years, humans thought the Earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun, other planets and star systems all revolved around the terrestrial home of homo sapiens? It’s that kind of hubris that leads humans to believe we cats love them because we supposedly prefer to be near them. The truth is, we merely tolerate humans and we often don’t have a choice when it comes to proximity unless we’re living in 50-room mansions. Where else are we supposed to go in a four-room apartment?
We don’t murder you. You humans have convinced yourselves that our warnings are “love bites.” We are happy to correct you by increasing our bite force.
We allow you to scoop our poop. Do not kid yourself, human. If you are trusted to clean our turds, it means you occupy a lofty position in life. Consider yourself lucky.
We bring you gifts. Again, humans misinterpret this behavior as “cute.” They think we’re sharing our kills. What we’re really doing is showing you what we’re capable of. Think of it as motivation: Continue serving my meals on schedule and dispensing treats, and you won’t end up like this mouse.
We show you our bellies. “It’s a sign of trust!” imbecilic humans coo. “Kitty is showing you she feels comfortable and safe in your presence!” If there were an Olympics for getting things tragically wrong, humans would sweep gold. We show you our bellies not because we trust you, but because we want you to know that even when we’re laying in vulnerable positions, we aren’t worried about what you can do to us. You’re slow of wit and limb.
We rub ourselves against you. “Mr. Snuggles rubs up against me all the time to tell me he loves me!” a tragically misinformed person might say. Nope. You’re right about the scent-marking glands. We have them on our cheeks, paws and our forehead, but we’re simply marking ownership by rubbing against you. When you write your name on your lunch bag before you toss it into the work fridge, does that mean you love the bag? No. It just means “Don’t eat my lunch!” Same thing here. We are telling other cats to look elsewhere for servants, because we own you.
We groom you. You’re disgusting. We groom you because we can’t stand your stink. End of.
We knead you. Yet again, humans misinterpret a malicious activity as “cute” and endearing. It’s a marvel that your species has survived as long as it has. What do you do with a piece of steak before you cook it? Tenderize it, of course! Kneading is just a long tenderizing process carried out over years, so when you die and no one notices because you have no friends, and the cat food runs out, we can eat you without major difficulties. That still doesn’t mean you taste good.
We meow at you. Long ago we felines realized that humans are not smart enough to speak tail or whisker, so we endeavored to speak your “language,” a series of grunts and guttural vocalizations that supposedly carry meaning. But when we stoop to “speaking” your tongue, you respond with gibberish. Tell us, which species is supposed to be the intelligent one?
So there you have it, humans. Ten signs your beloved feline tolerates your presence, as long as you conduct your basic duties as a cat servant competently. Let no one claim Buddy the Cat isn’t a friend to the human race, revealing the mysteries of catdom so that you might serve us more competently.
Okay, fine! I love my human. But he’s perpetually on thin ice, and he knows it.
Top image: Buddy the Cat looks approvingly at his human, Big Buddy. That may seem like a scowl, but rest assured it is the kindest facial expression Buddy directs at his loyal servant. All other photos allegedly depicting a loving Buddy are in fact fake news, and should be ruthlessly censored.
Why do cats always follow their humans around? I mean, you guys might not want us to pet you all the time, but you sure do go everywhere we go.
Human in Honolulu
This is a common misconception, one of those myths about cats like the one that says we love milk or we like it when you talk to us in baby voices.
The sad reality is that you follow us around but you don’t want to admit it, so you come up with elaborate fictions about our habits. My human believes I weave around his legs to rub against them after he wakes up, which is absurd. Clearly he steps in my path and I have to swerve, causing incidental contact. I would prefer not to, but he makes it impossible.
Or how about the myth that we like to bother you guys in the bathroom? Big Buddy knows that every day at certain times I like to put my paws under the bathroom door and cry. I mean, I do it all the time and he knows it, so he decides to use the bathroom at those times and tricks himself into believing that somehow I go into hysterics if I’m not actually inside the bathroom with him.
Do you see how delusional you people are?
What kind of crazy people say “I know my cat is going to knead and purr in this spot in the next 5 to 10 minutes, so I’m going to sit here and force him to knead on me”?
I think you guys need to get help.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.