Cats are loyal, elegant, and affectionate yet fiercely independent and quite honestly, coy in their relationship with us, their protectors and loyal subjects. Unlike dogs, who drool all over you and can’t seem to distance themselves from you or withstand your even temporary disapproval, cats demand your loyalty and respect. They shadow you by following you all around, even patiently waiting out of the bathroom door while you are taking a shower and sitting atop of your desk when you are busy working. But cats will suddenly withdraw from you when they sense you are less than devoted to them or if their pride is pricked by any reason totally incomprehensible and invisible to you, thereby forever mystifying us. This is why we are more alert and mindful of our relationship with our cats than with our doggie friends.

By looking at our relationship with these loving, devoted, yet independent animal companions, we can learn a few pointers from these finicky friends and apply these to our own intimate relationships. When we are like cats in our romantic relationships – devoted, loving, yet fiercely independent and willing to stand in our own space and identity – our relationship will always have the hallmark of a successful and evolving relationship: mutual respect, the space necessary for individual growth as well as for interdependence, anticipation and excitement of learning new things about each other, and complete free will in choosing how close or how far we want to be from each other.

I have taken in my daughter’s cat several months ago when she had to move out of her animal-permissible apartment. “Kitty” will be with us until my daughter settles back into her own household, which is expected to be in the next few months. When she first came to our house Kitty didn’t want to come out of my closet where she hid from the moment she came in the house nor would she approach us to smell and possibly play with us. She just sat in dark corners and brooded, probably wondering what was happening to her and where did her real Mommy has gone. My son and I gave her the space she required to adjust to her new surroundings and to us, even though we saw her periodically since her palm-sized kitten days. We let her have her own solitude in cozy dark corners of her new abode, allowed her to process whatever grieving or bewildering thoughts going through in her mind. We established the food and water place and made an effort to befriend with her but immediately left her alone when she displayed any sign of discomfort to our overtures. This went on for about a week.

One day, she came out of her favorite closet and ventured into the living room. She parked herself at a corner of the living room near my bedroom, a convenient location in case she wanted to bolt back to her hiding spot. And she watched us from that command post – silently observing our routines without interjecting her presence into them. After fifteen minutes or so, she went back to her place, only to come out to feed and relieve herself later on. The next day she was out longer, and this time she laid herself down in an open area, no longer protected by a wall on her side. Again, though, she didn’t come to us to be patted. We cooed to her and walked very near her but didn’t touch her.

On the third day, she sat in the middle of the living room, and she fully stretched her long and graceful body out on the carpet. This was the tipping point we were waiting for; she felt comfortable enough in her new surrounding and with her new companions to fully expose herself in the middle of an open area, and we were finally permitted to pay tribute to her in earnest pats and embraces.

That afternoon she luxuriated in the freedom we allowed to be her own cat, all the while we served her up with adoring coos and sweet talks, and our pats were lapped up with lavish purring and kneading, which she undoubtedly had missed a lot while in her self-imposed exile in the closet land.

Since that day she decided to shadow me. While in hiding she must have been observing and tabulating both me and my son’s daily routines and temperaments and apparently had chosen me for her object of utter fascination and devotion, her Goddess in flesh and blood. My son informed me that when I leave home for work in the morning she meows in the house, looking for me in my bedroom, bathroom, and living room, till she realizes that I am not there to answer her calls and pick her up to give her a gentle squeeze and a nose kiss. When I come home in the afternoon, she meows in the hallway to greet me, only to retreat into the bedroom soon after and be left alone till her chosen time.

From the moment she comes out of that retreat she follows me everywhere. She comes to the kitchen while I am cooking, sometimes jumping on the countertop for a quick brushing off against my body. When I am at my desk, she stands up on her legs to look over the top of my desk, even though I have a frosted glass desk without side panels so she can see me from any angle. She walks back and forth across my shins while I am in my chair, and I give her a gentle leg-hug which prompts her to jump up to the desk and start to walk across the monitor, leaving her hair on the screen and obscuring the screen for me, her tail lifted high in the air and loudly purring. When I try to push her away from the monitor she jumps on the windowsill by the desk and settles down there for an indefinite moment of adoring gaze, with eyes full of unquestioning trust. There she waits for me, patiently and without the slightest indication of entertaining a second thought in her love affair with this imperfect human Goddess.

When I sit to watch a movie, she jumps on the back of the couch, right behind my head, and smells my neck and hair. Since she plays alone at night she comes and goes many times to my bed each night. Sometimes she settles right next to my pillow, curled up in a black furry ball, to startle me when I stretch my arm in my sleep, but other times she is right on top of my chest, kneading in the rapture of ripping my bed cover and purring like a giant gurgling brook running through my sleep land. She lets me squeeze her when she is in the mood for a hug, but when she is done with the mushy stuff she hops out of my embrace to free herself.

She sits near me, watches my every move in a rapt attention, and is in a constant state of ecstasy of being in love – her eyes tell me so. Yet as sudden her jumps are she withdraws from me when she feels the need for solitude or her own space. She demands my love and attention when she wants them and gives hers to me as the mood comes, but she does not overly impose herself on me nor will she take undue affection from me or allow me to constrain her freedom in any way. It is as though she has an innate metric system in her love relationship in how much she will take and how much she will give, even to her Goddess. She will give her love on her own accord, totally unencumbered by my wanting.

Last night, I was musing over a relationship issue before I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night when Kitty started to breathe on my face, purring loudly and kneading on my chest when my fingers touched her. It got me thinking how we relate to our loved ones and how much we can learn from our feline friend, our domesticated yet fiercely wild and independent lovers. If we are able to curve our personal yearnings for our human companions, loving them without imposing our wants and needs on them or on the relationship, and give and accept love as free and gracefully as our feline friends do, and know when to let go, our relationships will endure, mature, and evolve – the way we all want our relationships to be. Too, being a little more wild, unpredictable, and demanding of respect will do much good to our intimate relationship.

Author's Bio: 

Myoung-Ae Jones is a Life Coach assisting others to create an authentic and harmonious life in the path of self-empowerment. Her coaching practice focuses on self-development and relationship, two most important and foundational facets in life.