Are Cat Lovers Masochists?

an angry looking cat
Image by Omer Unlu / CC BY

I never know quite where you stand, and that’s why I’m so into you.

Your attention and affection aren’t readily available. Instead, they’re highly conditional. And those conditions are ever-changing, hidden from the rest of the world.

You play a game whose rules aren’t published anywhere. Because they fluctuate like Fluxx or Calvinball. No game we play together is ever the same. Really, only one thing doesn’t change: You always win.

And that’s how I like it.

Sometimes this means I lose. But other times I win right along with you.

But it’s not up to me; it’s up to you. Because you’re the boss, and I’m your charge.

Even though the rules are unfair and obscured, there’s a thrill whenever I actually do win. When I manage to emerge beside you as co-victor. Where we are both champions for once. And I’m not simply the opponent that you have bested. (Although that can be its own kind of fun, too. A different kind.)

Are Cat Lovers Masochists?

After I wrote this passage, I realized that it could apply to multiple living beings I’ve known. Some of these beings have been humans. People with which I’ve engaged in a form of emotional masochism. Where our dynamic was charged with a kind of one-sidedness — one that wouldn’t have worked with just anyone, but with that special person, well, it was a kind of paradise.

Was it healthy? It depended on the dynamic. Sometimes they weren’t great relationships, just intense ones. Other times, the emotional masochism was more a form of intentional play, not a sign of overall instability. A sort of spice added onto a healthy meal.

But I also realized after I’d written the above description about emotional masochism that it could apply to my love of cats. I’ve always been a cat lover, and it’s something that can be hard to explain to people who don’t care much for them.

Dogs are much more consistent sources of affection. They clearly adore their owners. Dote on them. Whine when their owners go away.

With a cat, it’s more of a role reversal. The cat behaves as though they are the master, and you are their pet. The attention and affection are highly conditional, tenuous.

And for me, this is part of why it’s so satisfying when it happens. Why I feel so honored when a cat who has ignored me all day decides at an arbitrary point in the evening that he wants to crawl up on my lap and fall asleep there purring.

I typically find the attention of dogs overwhelming, smothering. But the push-pull a cat poses? Well, that’s just right.

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See Also: Why Kinky Girls Are Like Cats

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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