Most humans prefer to consider their relationships with their cat to be parental in nature. My human has always been the opposite, as she was vehemently opposed to ever being a parent. Think of that what you will, but it has given her a different perspective about the cats in her lives and the ability to see that feline-human relationships are not what they seem to be, at least to the human half.
Cat and human relationships, while all different, do fall into certain categories. If you want to take a step back and really examine how you and your cat relate to each other, you may be surprised at where you two fall! So let’s look at them.
I’m starting with this one first because it’s the relationship I have with my human. She is definitely my Best Friend Forever, my partner in crime (well, we don’t actually do any crimes), and a team. This is pretty common for a working cat like me. While we BFFs rely on our humans for a lot, we know we are equals — we just have different roles. And I treat my human as such. We work well together, and we also share a lot of fun!
Cat signs of a BFF relationship:
- Expects to be included in everything
- Does not understand why they have to be in a carrier, when humans travel without being in one.
- Has strong opinions about other friends (human and feline) and potential partners of their humans.
- Is there for you when you need it, but will do their own thing if they sense you need space.
- Wants to share their toys and other good times with you. All the time.
- Is happiest when you are alone together.
The Master-Servant – With the Cat as Master
If your cat came from the streets or another situation where they were already past kittenhood and independent, your relationship might fall into this category. Your cat doesn’t need you, but they appreciate the comforts you give them. And chances are they appreciate those comforts a lot and are really quite grateful for them. But they do have expectations of you. They tend to hold you to a rigid schedule, and expect you to respect their space.
Don’t despair if this sounds like your home life. It isn’t as cold as you may assume. If you’ve watched any movies about the extremely wealthy, you might note that some of them are very attached to their servants, perhaps more than to family. Their servants are their home base, and they treasure and love them for a lifetime. So your bond with your cat master can run pretty deep.
Cat signs of a Master-Servant relationship:
- Expects meals a certain way, at a certain time.
- Clearly knows they have the upper paw.
- Gets annoyed if you bother them with trivial things like, oh, meds, or getting petted while they are trying to nap.
- Really, really, hate the indignity of funny hats and collars. Like, don’t ever do that to them because they will hold it against you.
- Surprises you with sudden acts of affection or loyalty.
This really isn’t quite as common as humans think. Cats know you aren’t their parent. Usually. But if you’ve raised a cat from a very young kitten, or even had them as a bottle baby, then they will imprint on you as if you are a mother. And they tend to be very dependent on you in a way the BFF cat isn’t. They are needier.
Keep in mind that with the Parental relationship comes a big responsibility. Parents have the ability to raise kids into emotionally healthy beings, or break them so that they never quite function normally. While a cat’s mental distress isn’t going to wind up in jail time and destroyed lives, it still keeps the cat from having their best life. While this goes for all cat-human relationships, it goes double or triple here.
Cat signs of a Parent-Child relationship
- Thinks you are in charge of everything, including the weather and things that go bump in the night.
- Nags you when they aren’t getting their way.
- Causes trouble when nagging doesn’t work.
- Expects you to fulfill their every need.
- Loves you even when they are mad at you.
- Reacts to you as an authority figure, and may even be a little scared of you if they’ve really misbehaved.
- Never quite grows up.
- Expects you to buy them a car and pay for their college education (I’m just kidding about the latter).
The Family Member/ Roommate
Not quite a BFF and not quite a Parent-Child relationship, the Family Member/ Roommate is actually the most typical. This is where your cat chooses to happily coexist with you. You’re not a team, at least not always, and your cat is perfectly happy to do their own thing without worrying that they aren’t getting enough attention from you. It’s fun, healthy relationship, full of love and loyalty without being needy.
In the Family Member/ Roommate relationship, while you meet your cat’s basic needs, they are pretty easy going about it. They don’t think the world is coming to an end if dinner is 15 minutes late. While they may not like it if you take a vacation without them, they’ll be fine with the pet sitter and won’t sulk when you return. (At least not for long.) This is actually the ideal relationship, and if this is what you have with your cat, you are indeed lucky.
Cat signs of a Family Member/ Roommate relationship
- Loves spending time with you, but also loves spending time by themselves.
- Appreciates your kindness and affection, but doesn’t have much patience with you if they think you are doing something dumb.
- Even when they are doing their own thing, they usually have time for you.
- Will listen to you when you are upset, even though they don’t have any answers.
- They trust you to do the right thing by them. So don’t ever betray that trust.
So which relationship do you and your cat have? Let me know in the comments!
Other posts you’ll enjoy:
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Always Praise Your Cat
- How to Bond With Your Cat – 8 Tips
- The Cat-Human Bond Is Deeper Than You May Think