There is no altruism in the cat world.
Everything they do, they do for themselves.
Whether they are snuggling with you at night or cuddling on your lap (they want your body heat), or pawing at you to encourage you to wake up when the alarm goes off (they want their breakfast), or massaging their cheeks against your legs (they are marking you as their territory), or purring away as they enjoy a good head scratch or back rub (they can’t do it themselves), they are only in it for them.
As they should be.
Theirs is a world of survival of the fittest.
Descended from ancient creatures who only managed to continue their existence through the credo “eat or be eaten.”
Their social orders are fairly selfish and isolatory.
Yes, they may live in colonies, or “clowders”, but they are always in their own “space”.
Never getting too close. Always a few inches or more separates each cat.
Some cats that have grown up as kittens together, siblings, will sleep together and groom each other. But even those actions have selfish motivations. They keep each other warm, and keep each other clean so as to not attract predators.
A millenium of habits die hard.
Studies of apes and chimps, on the other hand, have shown they are often willing to help each other. The success of one ensures the success of the group, perhaps.
But not cats.
They are perfectly willing to go it alone.
Other cats are competition. For food. For resources. For our attention.
Their selfishness is their key to their survival.
Not that it makes it right.
And not that we humans should take note and use it as an excuse to be selfish ourselves.
Rather, we should take note that it’s not how we should be at all.
We should be more like the chimps and apes. Helping one helps everyone in the group.
It may work for cats, and I love and respect them for it.
They have allowed us to domesticate them, in return for regular feedings so they don’t have to expend energy hunting.
And they are great at holding up their end of the bargain.
Tigers in our living room.
Gorgeous, symmetrical, soft, clean, decorative even. Lounging about as if they own the place. Striding around looking for mischief to get into. Perhaps tuning an ancient chord looking for something to hunt.
Yet also destructive (thank goodness for scratching posts), and sometimes disgusting (another hairball on the rug).
But as one of the most popular domesticated pets on the planet, the good outweighs any bad.
They are great companions. Lowering our blood pressure. Their purring triggering the feel good hormone dopamine. Returning our love, even if it is only to continue our good graces towards them. Connecting us to nature and the animal world in a wonderful way.
So, even recognizing their selfish natures, I am okay with that, knowing they come by it honestly, in the name of survival.
And I love them anyway.