Words: Chelsea Haith
Photos: Fiona Christensen
People who are owned by cats know what love is. They are in fact particularly knowledgeable on the topic of unrequited love. Not because they are crazy cat ladies (though this is not unlikely) but because being owned by a cat is like investing 18 years in a relationship with someone who only feels a vague interest in you but for whom you will give up the warm patch in the bed, the sunny spot on the couch and a good night’s sleep. And so, for the love-lorn with nothing better to do than read an article titled ‘Relationship Advice From Cat Lovers’ (I mean, really now, get it together), here are five pieces of advice as learnt the hard way: by loving a feline.
Love is transitory (but treat it like ‘forever’)
Cats love you for the two minutes it takes to open the cat food pouch. Not a second more. On weekends cats might love you for the hour or two you spend asleep on the couch, when your full bladder is the warmest place in the house and needs to be kneaded in appreciation of that fact.
People love you for the two minutes it takes to take off your clothes. Not a second more. On weekends they might love you for the day you spend in bed together while you panic about the amount of work you need to get done.
Regardless, treasure those moments. The week may be long, the year may be tough but cats and people are warm and sometimes there’s comfort in the knowledge that at that moment they aren’t anywhere else.
Care unconditionally (regardless of the tepid response)
People who love cats know that no matter how much love you pour into the relationship, the beloved loves on his or her terms only and sometimes not at all. You may adore the feline wonder that is your housemate and s/he may appreciate it. But be warned, “I think we should just be friends” is never far around the corner. Love is not eternal for both parties, despite what Shakespeare said about an ‘ever fix’d mark’ or some such nonsense. It’s all or nothing. Which is why you should get a cat and not fall in love. You can love a cat totally, receive little in return and still feel like The Chosen One at 3am when they decide that that is the opportune moment to investigate your feet. With their claws.
Surrender to the power
It is commonly known that the person who loves the least in any relationship has the most power. Cats have spent centuries using our adoration for them against us, a bit like the old preparatory school prank in which your friend takes your hand and slaps you with it while asking, “Why are you hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself?”
Being in a [good] relationship is a little like hitting yourself in the face repeatedly: sometimes it hurts, mostly you look stupid, you’re not sure why you’re still doing it but you can’t stop laughing. Maybe.
Give space when space is needed
Whether that space is space to take over your entire desk with a full body stretch or space to take up a new hobby like fire-poi dancing space is a good thing for people who love cats or another human being.
Cats need space to hunt and do yoga and go chill at the neighbour’s house and pee on other people’s furniture. Similarly, people need space to hunt and do yoga and go for beers with friends and flirt with people who are better looking than you are. It’s much of a muchness.
The answer is trust. And giving both cats and people a good reason to come back. Be it regular meals and tummy rubs or regular sex and tummy rubs (if you’re that way inclined), you have to decide if you’re going to make that cat/person want to come back.
Side note: Cats are harder to convince. And the victory is therefore that much sweeter.
You knew all along
People who are surprised when they get dumped are naïve and obviously not cat owners. Cats give more bat than the girl you flirt with in the bar when you’re drunk and you know you should have gone home two beers ago.
If a cat expresses interest in you, then you KNOW you’ve got a good thing going on. If you apply this logic to people however, things get a little less certain. Cat lovers are probably better able to detect true interest than non-cat people. Cat-people spend their lives questioning their cat’s motives but the day the cat curls up on the pillow beside your swollen face and purrs like a diesel engine because you’ve just had your wisdom teeth out, THAT’S love. What man or woman would do that for you? What man or woman would purr near your face in an attempt to help you heal faster? No man or woman. Because humans can’t purr.
The point is, you know if you and your cat are tight, just like you know if you and your person are tight. Honesty is the best policy. Even if you’re just admitting that Felix loves your mom more than he loves you. Accept it, move on.
An open relationships is a bit like leaving the cat flap open
In North America, if your cat flap is not equipped with a sensor that only allows your cat, by the genius of a device attached to his/her collar, to enter your house, then you should prepare yourself for an invasion of raccoons. This analogy is applicable to human interaction too. Simply replace ‘raccoons’ with ‘difficult and painful feelings of blame and regret’.
That being said, owning more than one cat is good for all of the cats involved. You may take that anyway you like.
You knew going into this that there would be no valuable advice at the end of the rainbow, just photos of cats and anecdotes about cats and some strange analogies to bring them all together. Some concrete advice about cats and relationships is this: Cats are honest about how they feel. And you should be too.
James Stewart & Lord Byron
Nicola Bowes & Jade
Caitlin Gibson/ Sarah Mitchell & Shanti
JC Bonnici & Mecci
Chris Booth & Muppet