My Cat Thomas and I Reach the “I Love You” Stage of Our Bond


“I love you” holds power. Saying “I love you” often marks a turning point in a romantic relationship, whether you’re an inexperienced teenager or an emo-veteran. “I love you” also applies in friendships. Several people who I hold dearest I can look in the eye and say the words sincerely. Beer commercials and other pop-culture vehicles tend to make fun of the “I love you, man” phenomenon between men, but in a culture that discourages men from showing any emotions other than jealousy and rage, I consider “I love you, man” to be progress.

“I love you” can also disrupt tense, standoffish situations. Once when I was driving in Berkeley, in a great hurry and having an extremely bad day, a guy cut me off for a parking spot.

The universe handed me a chance at vengeance a few minutes later when, having found another parking spot and en route to my destination on foot, I passed his parked car — in what should have been my spot.

“I’m going to leave this guy a note on his windshield,” proclaimed the jealous, raging part of my soul, which had gotten a lot of exercise that day and wanted more.

So I did leave a note — but I turned the situation on its head by writing only three words on the paper: “I love you.” Did it confuse him? Probably. But it also might have made him feel good, like someone appreciated his very being and wanted to let him know. In doing so I put good energy into the world rather than bad. I got such a kick out of it, my mood brightened and I forgot why I was rushing.

Sometimes “I love you” is a telling mistake. I once said “I love you” by accident to my friend Vanessa after we’d had dinner and were parting for the evening. She smiled, unshaken, and said “I love you” back. The next day when I wrote her to apologize for clobbering her with my inadvertent proclamation, and she said, “No need.” Another “I love you” stage, in the books.

What about cats, then? We love cats. Is there a similar “I love you” milestone for humans and cats in relationships? I have loved many cats. I have told people that I’ve loved these cats — often when the cats are there looking at me while I say it.

“I love our kitty,” I’ve said to Daphne more times than I can count while we each look on at Thomas, who’s probably killing us with cuteness at that point.

Yet until a couple of months ago, I’d never looked a cat in the eye and said, “I love you.” Now I say it to Thomas all the time, especially when we’re alone. I pet him and repeat words such as “My boy” and “My handsome lad” with the occasional “I love you” included. I sense that it makes him feel better. He often rolls over and does the upside-down-head thing (like in the photo above) after I say it.

Using feline language, Thomas gives it back — via the “‘I love you’ slow blink,” which Jackson Galaxy famously used to calm some 40 or 50 cats in a shelter during a thunderstorm. Giving me the blink is a recent development for Thomas. For a long while, I tried to initiate this progression, which usually includes three blinks, but Thomas would get one blink into it and then turn away, pretending to see something climbing up the wall, or just passively admitting that he was not yet ready to commit.

Those days are gone. Now Thomas routinely gives me the full sequence. On a recent afternoon, in fact, I held his gaze for seven or eight measures — I was too blown away to count. (“Good kitty!”)

So this is our “I love you” stage, man on cat, cat on man. I tell him, and he tells me.

Speaking of Jackson Galaxy, the host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell

Jackson Galaxy got married!

So, how is Jackson Galaxy getting married related to me? Read on, dear friend. I once was mistaken for Jackson Galaxy, and as recently as last weekend yet another person, wholly without provocation or hint, told me that I resemble him. I’ve theorized that Jackson Galaxy and I are different versions of the same guy, and his marriage offers more evidence to back that up.

But first, the details. On July 1, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, posted the image below on Facebook. It was taken at Galaxy’s wedding to Minoo Rahbar. Best Friends reported that the wedding took place at the sanctuary, and the couple’s dog Mooshka was the ringbearer.

Now consider these eeeeeerie parallels:

  • Jackson Galaxy got married in 2014. I’m getting married in 2014.
  • The name of Galaxy’s wife (Minoo Rahbar) has four syllables. The name of my fiancee (Daphne Phillips) has four syllables.

The whole thing becomes more inescapable by the day, doesn’t it? I mean, look at all the signs. He’s bald — I’m bald. He’s petting a dog — I’ve petted a dog. He’s crouching on grass — I’ve crouched on grass. My dad’s name is Jack, so that makes me “Jack’s son,” too.


At any rate, I was not invited to the wedding of Jackson and Minoo, but that’s no surprise. Who would want a doppelg├ñnger at his wedding? Think about what could go wrong. The officiant has a little too much wine, the wrong guy stands in the right place, and BAM! there’s a mystery groom taking the bride on honeymoon before anyone notices the real groom is hung over and cleaning up after the reception. (“Did Keith start smoking again? What could have brought that on?”) To be sure, Jackson Galaxy is invited to my wedding in October, but if he attends, I’ll insist he spend the day handcuffed to Minoo so there will be no mistake about who belongs with who.

In all seriousness, The animal sanctuary reported that at the event, “in lieu of wedding favors, the couple sponsored a Best Friends animal for each guest.”

Now that’s a way to tell animals, “I love you.”

I also extend my best wishes to you, Jackson and Minoo. I hope your union was motivated by the same force that brought Daphne and I together. It’s the strongest attraction my life has ever known. I could spend all day looking for something I’ve written, read or heard that sums it up but still not quite get it. So to you I offer something from Amanda Palmer’s blog about how she knew Neil Gaiman was the one for her. It describes how I feel about Daphne, and I hope it’s true for you too.

the selling point was that he actually understood me, deeply, and that he loved me as i was and had no desire to harness me. and he wanted to come on the adventure with me, not pin me down to his own plan, and not simply stand by the sidelines and cheer. i’d found an actual partner.

also he was really cute and great in bed.

“Well. There it is,” said the Emperor of Austria.

Do you say “I love you” to your cats? Do you give them the “I love you” slow blink? Are you married? Do you have a doppelg├ñnger? Have you met Amanda Palmer? Tell me in the comments!

Cat Dandy says love is the drug for cats and cat guys alike:

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster and Dogster.

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