It’s a question that’s been asked ever since the first cat came into our homes and settled on our laps.
We feed them, love them, care for them when they are sick – but do cats think humans are their mothers?
The reason this question has been asked so many times is because we raise them as our fur babies, and we’d like to know whether or not they think we’re their mothers.
Well, this article will finally answer that question – but cat mothers be warned – you may not like the answer (but there are lots of consolations too, so don’t be too sad).
Without further ado, lets jump into the minds of our cats, and find out what they really think of us.
Do cats think humans are their mothers?
OK, we’re going to need to get this out of the way early on. No. No, they don’t think we’re their mothers.
But, they do treat us in similar ways by showing us the same level of affection and respect that they would do for their birth mothers, so don’t be too disheartened.
First of all though, you’re probably wondering how we know that cats don’t think of us as their mothers. You might be surprised to hear that many people have actually researched it, and here are just some of the results.
Generally speaking, a kitten should not be separated from its birth mother until at least 12 weeks of age.
This is because the kitten learns everything it needs to know for survival from its mother during these early stages of its life.
It’ll learn to hunt, clean itself, play, and socialize, and that’s something that we human cat mothers just can’t teach.
Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for the kittens), by the time the young kitten is ready to be housed with one of us humans, it has already connected to its mother, and experts believe that during the first year of its life the cat won’t forget its birth mother or its littermates.
So, your new cat knows the differences between you and its birth mother, but it does still love you – we promise!
Further research has shown that cats simply transfer the behaviors that it learnt from its mother to us.
That means that whilst your cat doesn’t see you as its mother it will treat you in very similar ways, by interacting with you in a way that isn’t too far removed from how it interacted with its mother.
What do cats really think of us?
This has to be the largest consolation that this article is going to offer: cats might not see you as their mother, but they do see you as family!
Experts believe that cats don’t have a different way of interacting with humans than they do with interacting with fellow cats.
Putting their tails up, grooming us, and brushing up against our legs are all things that cats do to each other – including a kitten and its mother.
There’s no difference between the way your new cat interacts with you and how it interacts with its mother and littermates.
Also read: Best cat toys for active cats.
This is good news for cat mothers, because it shows that even if our cats don’t see us as their mothers, they still treat us the same.
Some experts even go further, and they suggest that as we become their primary source of love, affection, and (probably most importantly) food, cats come to see us as family members.
Interestingly, if a cat is coming into a home with multiple family members, it may develop relationships that are unique to each one of them. Notice how your cat spends a lot of time grooming your children?
It might just be playing the role of a loving mother or aunt. Does your cat always come to you when scared? Then you just might be playing the role of a loving mother for it.
Now, pessimists out there might think that if cats don’t change its behaviors for humans, then maybe it’s only acting that way because it’s all the cat knows.
Well pessimists, we’re cat lovers, and we’re going to take the optimistic view that our cats see us as family, because we’ve already had the role of mother stripped from us and we’re not losing any more!
In all seriousness, the likelihood is that your cats don’t see you as their mother, but they do treat you similarly, and they at least see us as part of their family.
How do cats show us affection?
Now, if this article has left you feeling disheartened that your fur baby doesn’t see you as its fur-less mother, hopefully these signs of affection will remind you just how much your cat loves you.
There’s going to be plenty in this next section that you see your cat doing to you daily, so you can be reassured that your cat loves you just as much as you love them.
Also read: are male cats more affectionate?
Head Butting & Rubbing Against You
We’re going to start with arguably the sweetest one: head butting. When cats head butt us and rub their bodies against us, they are showing that they love us – deeply.
What they are actually doing is rubbing their pheromones all over you.
Pheromones are just chemicals that other cats can smell.
The purpose of your cat doing this is to mark you as their own, they want to warn off all those other cats, because you are theirs. If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that kittens and their mothers do this to each other too, so this is just one of the ways that cats show you the same love that they do to their mothers.
The next one is also sweet, and might be something you didn’t realize was a sign of love: nibbling. Most people associate cats biting as a negative thing, but when a cat gently nibbles you, they are showing you affection.
Kittens will have been used to their mother doing this, and now they’re doing it to you.
They have taken the signs of love that their mother taught them in early life, and transferring those behaviors to you, to let you know that you are loved too. What’s sweeter than that?
Next on the list is kneading.
When cats sit on your lap and knead your thighs, they are showing you affection.
Yes, their tiny claws can sometimes sting a little as they do it, but as it’s a sign of love, we can forgive them for it.
Kneading is actually something kittens do to their mothers when nursing, and by doing it to you now, they are showing you that you make them feel as loved and as secure as their mother once did.
The next sign of affection that we are going to look at is one of the most unpopular, but if we can forgive their tiny claws whilst kneading, we can forgive our cats poor choice of gifts, right?
Because even though we find their freshly caught prey disturbing, this is actually one of the sweetest things a cat can do for you.
Essentially they are bringing food home for you, instead of eating it themselves.
They are offering you the prey they worked so hard to catch, and whilst it is gross, it’s also incredibly thoughtful. And with any gift, it’s the thought that counts.
Following Us Around
Back to the really sweet signs of affection now: following.
A cat that follows you constantly wherever you go might seem a little strange, but they are really just showing you how much more comfortable they feel when they are around you.
Think about it, as kittens they spent all day everyday in the presence of their mother and their littermates, so cats are used to be surrounded by those they love.
If your cat gets up to follow you out of the room, it’s probably because it doesn’t want to be without its family.
The final sign of affection that we’ll look at is purring. Probably one of the most instantly recognizable signs of love, a cat purrs when it is comfortable and content.
If your cat purrs whenever it sees you, or whenever it nestles in for those special cuddles on your lap, it’s showing you just how special you are to it.
Cats purr at each other too when they are happy in each others company, so cats purring at you really is a sign of it being comfortable as part of your family.
Today we tried to answer the question, do cats think humans are their mothers?
And whilst the answer to that question might seem a little disappointing at first glance, we hope that we’ve managed to show you all of the ways that your cat does love you, and how they may even see you as part of their family.
It’s true that cats know that you’re not their mother, but that doesn’t stop them from treating you like one.
And after all, who really needs their cat to see them as their mother, just so long as they love you too?