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What Does My Cat Actually Think of Me?

Cats are notoriously hard to read, so we don’t blame you for asking, “What does my cat think of me?” You can tell right away if a dog likes you: He’ll usually come running straight to you, asking for lots of head scratches. But with cats, one minute they’re cute and cuddly, and the next they’ve got their claws out. It’s enough to make you wonder if they only think of you as their personal servant and food-bringer.

Cat expert John Bradshaw, PhD, has extensively studied domestic felines and their behavior, and he’s got a good idea of how cats view their owners. In his book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet ($24.75, Amazon), Dr. Bradshaw writes that our precious fur balls think of us as clumsy, oversized cats. 

“We’ve yet to discover anything about cat behavior that suggests they have a separate box they put us in when they’re socializing with us,” Bradshaw told National Geographic. “They obviously know we’re bigger than them, but they don’t seem to have adapted their social behavior much. Putting their tails up in the air, rubbing around our legs, and sitting beside us and grooming us are exactly what cats do to each other.”

Fortunately, just because we’re uncoordinated doesn’t mean our cats hate us or think we’re stupid. “They do think we’re clumsy: Not many cats trip over people, but we trip over cats. But I don’t think they think of us as being dumb and stupid, since cats don’t rub on another cat that’s inferior to them.”

Does that mean our cats love us? Well, Bradshaw said this area needs more study before we can really understand what cats think of us. But until then, we’d like to go on believing that our little ones’ nonstop purring and affectionate headbutts are proof that they adore us just as much as we do them.

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