Why We Love Cats: What Felines Can Teach Us About Affection

Posted on June 18, 2015

These beautiful creatures have a rare quality that we humans would do well to cultivate: a large capacity to receive affection. When a lovely cat saunters our way, it’s not easy to resist the impulse to stroke him or her, even when it’s not so wise.

One reason we may love to stroke these adorable creatures is because the rhythmic action of stroking their velvety fur feels good.
Another major reason we love cats is because of an uncanny ability that few humans possess: they register our tactile presence in a deeply felt way. They really know how to let us in! They’re right there in the delectable moment receiving our touch.

Delighting in our physical presence, they may begin to purr and perhaps roll on their backs, exposing their vulnerability — as if to say, “I trust you. Give me some love and make me feel good.” Their gift to us is that they receive us deeply, without any troubling cognitions or disturbing memories of less savory moments, such as when we forgot to feed them or clean their litter box. They let all of that go. They’re just here with us right now.

Perhaps you’re blessed to have a partner who receives you in a deep way. What a gift to sense that your partner is really letting you in! But sadly, most of us humans have blocks to receiving deeply and freely. Perhaps past conflicts have muddied the waters. Or, we’ve been taught that giving is nobler than receiving and we’re selfish to receive uninhibitedly. Cats teach us that this isn’t true. Most likely, we don’t judge cats as being selfish; we relish how openly they let us in. Perhaps this is why research has shown that cats can be very healing for us.

A 10-year research study suggests that cat owners were less likely to die of heart attacks than people who have never owned one. The latter group was 40 percent more likely to die from heart attacks and 30 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Other studies confirm that cats can lower our blood pressure and release dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress and improve immune functioning.

Cats can also help release oxytocin, which is associated with the feeling of being in love. As we know, love heals, and perhaps an important aspect of this healing is the bonding created by the cat’s ability to receive us deeply. I have fond memories of my now deceased cat slowly sauntering toward me and lying on my lap or chest, purring. It’s a precious feeling.

If you’re fortunate to have an affectionate cat in your life, notice how he or she receives your offers of affection. How do you feel inside when you’re being deeply received? Similarly, when someone who you like gives a hug or tenders affection, experiment with letting it in. Be a cat. Get out of your head and be mindfully present with how it feels in your body to receive affection from a loved one. Whether from a cat or human, letting love in just might heal you.

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Source material from PsychCentral