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Recently, an interviewer asked me if cats experience love. I rattled on some scientific findings suggesting that cats do indeed feel and demonstrate what we know as love. My mind, though, drifted to memories of observed cat romances, as well as long-standing cat friendships that have played out in my house.
First, there was the seven-year pairing of my elderly male cat, Freddy, and a gorgeous female cat nicknamed Stubby -- named for her short tail. The two cats met one spring morning, and Stubby couldn’t take her eyes off of Freddy. Every day for the rest of her life, she always ran to Freddy, greeting him with her little tail held as high as it would go; Freddy did the same. They would walk side-by-side to every meal. They cleaned each other, played with each other and reenacted some “birds and bees” moments, even though both had been fixed. It was feline eternal spring -- until Stubby sadly passed away. Freddy mourned her death for two years and has been single ever since.
Cat friendships can also be enduring. One of my cats, Little Buddy, came to me as a feral. He must have spent some of his formative years with dogs, as he always displayed a surprising affinity to them. Whenever a friend of mine brought over her dog, Little Buddy would literally jump for joy and the two would play together for hours, eventually falling asleep together on the couch.
I’m also proud to say that some of my own best friends have been cats. My beloved Sweetie, who recently died in her mid-20s, was a constant companion. There is no doubt that, in the future, scientists will fully unravel the mysteries behind such personal connections. In the meantime, I think most of us who live with cats know that they do: enjoy rich social lives that include longstanding friendships and, yes, love.
Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: