Codependency between cat and human is positive and healthy

A study currently being bandied around the internet is unwise to categorise five relationships between owners and their cats and the category of codependency is problematic.

Results of poll on Metro.co.uk into how their readers categorized themselves per the study. Image: Metro.co.uk.

There's been a lot of reports about a study in which the researchers categorised five types of relationship between humans and their cats. I feel that it is unwise to do this. The relationships they identified are:

  1. Open relationship bond;
  2. remote Association;
  3. casual relationship;
  4. codependent relationship;
  5. friendship.

I feel that these categories are artificial. In many aspects of human life, there is a continuous spectrum of behaviours, types, genders, you name it, but everything to do with people has a seamless spectrum of types. Take for example the gender of people. At one time, back in the day, people thought that humans were either male or female but we now realise that there is a continuous spectrum of gender types from an emotional standpoint and we are beginning to respect it.

As expected, they found that most people fit into the "open relationship bond" or "codependent relationship categories because these are categories which reflect a close relationship between person and cat. This has to be expected because when you adopt a cat you do so for that relationship. Often cats are a human substitute and for many people domestic cats are more reliable and more satisfactory than a human companion.

A poll on the Metro.co.uk website found that 11% of people felt that they did not fit in with any of these categories. It is probably a higher percentage but it does support my argument that these categories are somewhat artificial. I decided that I was in a codependent relationship and wrote about this on the main website. But it sounds rather negative. It sounds as if I need my cat around to exist but that isn't quite true. We do rely on each other as friends and the feelings are mutual, I believe which is why I described the relationship as codependent but it certainly is not negative; it is the exact opposite. I believe that codependency is a very positive situation under the right circumstances. It might be fair to say that all good marriages are between codependent parties. And therefore, all good cat-human relationships are probably codependent to a certain extent.

This negative connotation with codependency is spelled-out in the positivepsychology.com website in which they state that "codependency refers to a psychological construct involving an unhealthy relationship that people might share with those closest to them".

I don't see what's unhealthy about it. Perhaps it is a throwback to the concept that the term "codependency" referred to a couple of alcoholics or drug abusers who were codependent. But apparently it is grown to mean "other types of dysfunctional relationships". That's according to these psychologists. They say that codependents are too busy caring for others to take care of themselves "resulting in a disturbance of identity development". Whatever that means.

They even refer to codependence having low self-esteem and low levels of narcissism within familial dysfunction combined with depression, anxiety and stress. None of these apply to me and therefore I wonder whether the researchers in this cat study actually mean the same thing when they state that some people are in a codependent relationship with their cat. They clearly don't mean the same thing in my opinion.

One of their categories is "friendship". Well, the term "friendship" is very elastic. It depends upon the person as to what they interpret the word to mean. Once again, I am going back to the purpose of this article which is to argue that it is wiser to consider the human-cat relationship as a spectrum of types rather than breaking it down into five categories. The reason why they did this is because it makes it more readable to the public and they want to entertain the public and to obtain recognition. It's almost a bit of click bait. Academics are quite ambitious and they want their studies to be recognised and for them to go viral, if possible, which is unlikely obviously.

Assess your relationship by clicking this link. Remember that over time links to other websites will often break and stop working. If that has happened, I am sorry.

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