Saturday 27 February 2021

Are cats narcissists?

I think that it is ridiculous that anybody can find the time to ask if cats are narcissists. It's an absurd question but I'm going to try and answer it other than simply decry it as ridiculous. In order to answer the question as  to whether domestic cats are narcissists you have to first define the word "narcissist". It means, "a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves".

Incidentally, I realise that I am being unnecessarily serious because the question is meant to be a bit of a joke but there may be a slightly serious element to this which is why I'm discussing it a bit more than simply knocking it on the head.

You can see the obvious, which is that the definition starts off with "a person". This immediately cuts out of the equation all cats at a stroke! The concept of narcissism is exclusively dedicated to humankind. It is a condition created by people for people and defined by more people. It has nothing to do with animals and everything to do with the human-animal.

Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes!
Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes! Photo
in the public domain.

I suppose the question as to whether cats are narcissists might come from the fact that they are inherently solitary creatures and somewhat independent-minded (but becoming more sociable over years of domestication). Some people see them as aloof and difficult. They see them as demanding attention and pushing their human owner around. So if a domestic cat is demanding attention all the time or their human owner believes that they are demanding attention they might also believe that they are narcissistic.

Some cats like Siamese cats have a very positive and some would say demanding meow. It's quite a hard sounding meow. The Siamese is also a loyal cat and they like to be next to you. If you combine those two traits you might say that they are narcissistic, if you think being demanding is narcissistic. I am waffling really badly because in truth there is nothing more to say other than domestic cats are not narcissists.

People do tend to forget that domestic cats are cats and not little people. We do tend to anthropomorphise our feline friends. We project our emotions onto them and they are reflected back. So if we feel a bit down we will argue that our cat also feels a bit down because he looks a bit sad. The thing is they are not sad. We're just looking at their face and changing its appearance to suit our emotions and thoughts at that time.

An awful lot has been said about the mental state of domestic cats including their mental health and their emotions. We don't know much, and I'm referring to the best experts in the world, about cat emotions and cat mental health. We know a bit in that they have emotions, at least the basic emotions, and we know that they can be content and discontent. We know they feel pain and can suffer from stress and feel the opposite: relaxed. But the finer details of their emotions, we don't know much in truth. If we do it is guesswork.

And the profound mental health disorders such as narcissism and psychopathic states of mind are not for felines but humans.

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