Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do cats miss us when we're gone?

Eamon the cat looking out the window
Eamon looks more angry than mournful in this photo, I admit.
Last week, I was out of town for a total of eight days. While I ensured that my cats had a diligent and talented team of sitters while I was gone, I thought I'd certainly come home to a houseful of mewling, desperate cats who just couldn't wait to see me.

Boy, was I wrong.

Instead, my cats have been acting as though they have no idea who I am. They run from my outstretched hands and they steer clear of rooms I happen to be sitting in.

What happened?

Cat haters are quick to pounce (pardon the pun) on stories like this, claiming that cats are far too aloof to make proper house pets. Since cats don't demonstrate their affection right away, these cat haters claim, they don't really like us in the first place and would prefer that we stayed away for longer periods of time.

While statements like this might make for good punchlines, I'm not certain that's what is really going on here.

I think cats are fairly sensitive creatures that are quick to adapt to new situations. These cats probably learned to live with the idea that I wasn't coming back and that they had the home to themselves for the vast majority of the day. That doesn't mean that the cats don't like me, per say, but it does mean that these cats chose to live in the moment. Instead of mourning my absence, they got on with their lives. This is what animals do.

When I returned home again, the cats had to adjust their behaviors once more. Instead of having free reign, they had to put up with my rules and regulations. They had to move out of my chairs. They had to listen to the radio all day long. It's a lot to adjust to, and it's no wonder they needed a little time to make that leap. I probably would, too.

So in the interim, I'm giving them extra doses of homegrown catnip and hoping they'll come back around and learn to live with me once more. Since they don't have much choice in the matter, I suppose they'll make the switch eventually.