I love and need my human friends, but I have learned over many years that good friends take a while to find. Trust and compatibility grow over time. Some of us tend to get along with and enjoy lots of people but have a much smaller circle of true, close friends.
We made a big move a while back, from the middle of the country to the East Coast. I love the excitement of experiencing and living in a new place. With change comes excitement, and also comes edginess. One of the edgiest and hardest parts about moving is physically leaving your good friends behind, and starting all over and eventually finding new friends. Patience is needed. It doesn’t happen overnight.
However, I have certainly noticed that my cats make amazing friends. (Cat Dandy Keith Bowers took up this concept a while back on Catster.) In some cases, the relationship with my cats transcends that of a friend. Here are how my cats have become my good friends:
My Chester has a quiet way of sitting next to me as I work. He’ll sit on the desk and face me. We will be at eye level. I scratch his chin. He looks at me with what seems like affection and love. There is something happening. It’s like friendship, and somehow deeper. I don’t know if we have language for it, but that’s okay with me. It’s enough to know that that deep and lovely bond is there.
In my opinion, animals are better at this than humans. With their unconditional love, cats help me to reciprocate with unconditional love. That is a huge lesson for me, and any human, to incorporate. I sometimes think that is the greatest gift our animals give us — and I’m not the first person to say that.
Trust is imperative in a friendship. I need to feel safe with a good friend, as if I could trust her with anything and not have to worry about being judged. I feel this way with my cats. They don’t judge me, and they are an intrinsic part of the safe retreat space that I call home.
Call it codependent, but I love loving my cats. I love providing for them. This is different from the relationship I might have with a human friend, perhaps. But if being with a human friend made me feel like a better person, I’d say that was a good thing.
Friendship is a two way process. My old friends and I are making continuing efforts to stay in touch. In some ways I’ve grown closer, even though we talk on the phone instead of meeting face to face. Friendship makes me aware of giving back. My cats also make me aware of this. They give love, and laughter, and lessons, and I give love and care back to them. Like human friendship, this is a reciprocal relationship.
My love of cats and cat writing is what connected me to my first friend in my new location. Shortly after we moved, I wrote about Felines and Friends Foundation, a regional organization specializing in TNR. The director of FFF connected me with another cat lover and writer in a nearby town. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. Thanks to my passion for cats, I made my first friend here!
Honestly, I love where I have landed. This has been a great experience. And yet, I can’t imagine going through this transition without my cats. They have supported me, whether they know it or not, as I get established in a new place and slowly make trusted human friends. Some may find it strange, but I consider my cats some of my best friends, even though the relationship differs from my human friendships.
What do you think? Are your cats your friends, or something else? Let me know in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.