Published in 1992 by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages helps people learn and understand how they express and receive love or, to put it another way, what “love language” they themselves and their potential partner may “speak”. His unique approach to understanding and communicating love breaks down love languages into 5 categories: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. You may be wondering, what the heck does this have to do with cats?
Well, cats too have love languages they “speak”, and actually Chapman’s model is pretty spot on to explain your cat’s love behavior. My cat, Maxwell Wellington, shows his love by Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Physical Touch whereas I fall into Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Receiving Gifts. Do Max and I speak the same language? Yes and no, but we definitely have an understanding of how we express and receive love. (Thanks Chapman!) I purrsonally think we are a match made in heaven.
The Five (Kitty) Love Languages
Words of Affirmation
For humans, Words of Affirmations means building your partner up with positive reinforcements like, “You look stunning tonight,” or “You are one of the smartest people I know.” For cats, it means they are chatty catties who meow, chirp, chatter, and purr to let you know they love you. Do you and Fluffy carry on a conversation when you get home from work? Does Peanut talk to you while you’re making breakfast? These are all ways your kitties vocalize and give you Words of Affirmations.
How can you reciprocate Fluffy and Peanut’s words of affirmation? Whenever they talk to you, talk back! Tell them how they’re such a good kitty and how much you love them in a happy, positive tone.
Acts of Service
For humans, Acts of Service more or less translates into “actions speak louder than words.” People can talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? (Yes, I know; I am full of clichés). Does your partner want help with housework? Do they hate brushing the snow off their car in the winter? By stepping up and doing those acts without being asked to, you show your partner that you are anticipating their needs and are willing to take care of them without being prompted.
For cats, it could mean that they love to help you clean your desk by knocking things to the ground, or purrhaps they love to walk on your laptop while you’re having a video conference with the team. (And here you thought they were just being punks!) Show them you understand by taking a few minutes out of your day to play with them. If Peanut is the helpful desk cleaner, line things up on your desk for him to knock off. From there, whip out the laser pointer, and let him go crazy.
While this may seem like your partner only likes getting gifts and they’re super materialistic, that’s not the case. (And honestly, I think it should be rephrased to something like “Receiving Thoughtful Gifts” to drive home the point that we just don’t want that flashy bling). Anyway, this is when you pick up something thoughtful for your partner that reminds you of them. This is definitely one of my mom’s love languages. She’s the master of picking out something thoughtful months ahead of a birthday or holiday because she saw it and thought “Melanie would like that” or “Melanie mentioned she likes owls wearing scarves, and I just happened to find one!” It’s definitely where I got it from.
How does this translate to cats? If Peanut loves to bring you his toys and drops them at your feet, he’s showing you how important you are to him. He “killed” his toy and is presenting it to you. I’ve heard many stories of barn cats who kill field mice and leave them in their parents’ beds. While nasty to us, they see it as giving you a special gift.
How do you reciprocate? Well, you don’t have to leave a dead animal for them to find, but bring them gifts that you know they’d love. Does Peanut love catnip? Bring him some new catnip nibblers! Does Fluffy love spring toys? Awesome; order her a whole bunch to always have on hand when she inevitably loses one under the entertainment center.
Quality Time means spending serious time together. It could be setting aside a specific amount of time to be dedicated to each other sans electronics or other distractions. It could be doing something your partner really likes doing. Or, if you both have crazy busy lives and only have two hours to spend with each other out of the whole week, you make sure those two hours count. Like lyric-spitting Drake says (and yes, he adapted it from George Strait), “I’m here for a good time, not a long time” so make it count.
If Fluffy and Peanut are obsessed with you and go wherever you go, Quality Time is definitely their love language. Does Peanut follow you into every room? Does Fluffy always need to be near you? That’s their way of telling you the time you spend together makes them happy.
In my opinion, this is by far the most self-explanatory one. For humans, it means a partner longs for any sort of physical touch like hand holding, arm linking, flirtatious touches, etc.
For cats, it means Fluffy just has to be touching you when she lays next to you. It means that Peanut loves to rub up against you and walk through your legs when you’re cooking. You can show them you understand their need for Physical Touch by giving them whatever form of touch they enjoy (chin scritches, belly rubs, butt scratches, etc).
It’s likely that your furbaby will have more than one love language. Whatever that is, nurture it! When your Meowtel sitter comes over for their meet and greet, be sure to let them in on what love language your baby “speaks” so their relationship can flourish. And speaking of cats whose love language is Words of Affirmation, subscribe to Maxwell Wellington’s monthly newsletter, Mondays with Max! He lets you in on both cat and non-cat happenings in Dallas, SoCal, Chicago or NYC.