Dogs have a reputation for unconditional love. Fans call them Man’s Best Friend and wax lyrical about how wonderful their canines are. Cats, on the other hand, are portrayed as self-interested, perhaps exploiting their humans or even plotting to kill them.
I love the dog-versus-cat debates that rage and flare periodically – mostly because of the wonderful memes that flood my Facebook feed.
However, there is a serious side to this. When you’ve been demonised, anyone who fancies can take out their aggression on you. Just look at people who’ve been the subject of nasty stereotyping! They know it leads to bullying, intimidation and other harmful behaviour. As such, cats are often targets of sneers and slurs.
So I was thinking: I know that cats love just as much as anyone else, but how can it be proven?
There are lots of signs that cat lovers understand, but that are less obvious to people who don’t speak Cat. There are definitely language and cultural barriers that have to be overcome.
Understanding that offered the shape of the solution: babies are just like us but there are similar barriers. So let’s go with that.
How do we know tiny babies love us? Because they smile, kick their legs, reach out to us and make welcoming gurgles. Also, they are visibly happy when they curl up with us. Babies also distinguish between the people they love, and casual strangers.
I thought of that and instantly I was thinking of Guido and Tom, my husband. Guido joined our family exactly seven years ago this month. He was rescued and fostered by our friend Alicia who was running a business near Batu Caves. We saw a photo of Guido, and Tom instantly fell in love with the tight curly signature kampung tail.
Usually kitties are a little shy when you first bring them home but Guido stepped out of his carrier, looked around with a big grin and two minutes later he was sitting in the crook of Tom’s arm. If ever there’s a look that says, “You’re my human now”, it’s in that little furry’s eyes.
It was a case of love at first sight, and over the years that love has grown stronger.
When Tom gets up and dresses, Guido is sitting in his sock drawer, watching. During the day Guido hangs out, often with me, but when the little cat hears Tom’s car coming up the street, he’s racing for the door.
“Meow!” is the first thing Tom hears when he comes home. And then Guido’s rolling at his feet, headbutting his ankles, and purring like a train.
Weekends and holidays are glorious “caturdays” when the two hang out all day long. Guido has a chair in Tom’s room, and a rug, and his share of the desk, and as he likes to be totally paws-on, the computer keyboard is disconnected more often than not so that our furry can lounge without causing chaos.
When we’re all hanging out downstairs, the two typically sit together. When Guido isn’t smashed into a corner of their big shared chair (upholstered in red corduroy because it’s best for camouflaging sprinklings of ginger and brown fur), the cat lies at Tom’s feet.
So where babies use body language and welcoming gurgles to greet the people they love, Guido uses purrs and headbutts. And where babies love nothing better than to curl up with their loved ones, Guido follows suit. Again, like babies, our cat doesn’t do any of those things with others. His devotion is for his human, his Tom.
The clincher is that I’m the one who does almost all of the feeding. Tom and Guido have caturday lunches where they cook chicken liver together and all the fuzzies, including the kitchen cats, have a feast. However, on all other days it’s me making breakfast, handing out lunch biscuits and most of the time I do dinner too.
I get my purrs and headbutts, and we snuggle, but there’s no doubt about it: for a true love story, look to Guido the rescue cat and Tom, his best human.