To start off, awesome thread OP
I think that anyone who has truly cared for an animal and invested time in trying to understand them and really considered their well being can easily
see that it is not a one way street. Sure you can debate on whether or not it's love or dependency, but, in my personal experience, many creatures
have a noticeable response to genuine affection.
I know many people have mixed opinions on the disposition of cats and I have heard the argument that cats only look upon their owners favorably
because we condition them into a state where they, indefinitely, see us as a maternal figure who provides for them. The "hand that feeds" so to
I disagree, personally. I have, since the arrival of my kitty on my doorstep in his (estimated) 3rd-4th week of life, consistently treated him as an
equal member of my home and have made an effort to interact with him in the true interest of his well-being. My outlook on our interactions with each
other is not to treat him as a beneficiary of my care, but to seriously have an inter-species relationship that is mutually beneficial.
Might sound weird to some of you, but after 3 years, I have seen countless affirmations that he is not just a dependent of my benevolence, where I am
merely a dispenser of food and clean litter, but that he actually has a deep seated "love" for me (and I him) that almost actually borders on
appreciation and recognition of my behavior towards him.
Whereas, many of my friends seem to treat him as a toy or source of entertainment, I treat him as a brother and his interactions with me vs. them is
like night and day. I truly believe that he loves me and I see evidence of it in so many wonderful and silly ways. You can call me crazy or
delusional, but I have seen enough affirmation to say animals (at least most of them) really do have a capacity to love in a much more "human" way
than we give them credit for.
p.s. (just a little supplemental info for good measure) a couple of the silly ways he interacts with me that used to surprise me, and are now normal
practice, is the way he, if i haven't showered in a day or so, adamantly insists on grooming my hair when I'm lying down, or (much more telling IMO)
the way he leans his forehead towards my mouth to receive a kiss and, in return (after I kiss his head) he licks the tip of my nose emphatically as he
starts purring loudly. If i do not kiss his forehead when he presents the opportunity, he gets noticeably restless and continues to "ask" for one.
This is an every day occurrence and I find it adorable
Maybe my kitty's just awesome, but I fully attribute his behavior to my outlook on his role as an equal creature of earth that deserves my respect
and compassion and I believe he, on whatever level, truly appreciates it.