If we’ve been away – and long hours spent asleep with the bedroom door closed count as “away” – the cat frequently goes crazy. Return from an absence and stand at a threshold: she’ll rub up against you, back and forth; after each pass, she understeers her 180-degree turn, rubbing her head on the door frame or newel posts at either side, again and again; all the time, her tail twitches like a marionetted walking stick tapping down the street. All she wants, almost all of the time, is company: respectful, even occasionally metres-distant, company; but company nonetheless.
There’ll always be those who want to explain away any socialising performance by an animal in terms of this chemical and that nervous adaptation. Those are just scent glands it’s rubbing on you, you know; she’s programmed to enjoy doing that, you know; it’s just evolutionary advantage, you know. And of course there’s always a grain of truth to such explanations, but their faux-hardnosed reductionism doesn’t satisfactorily explain so many of the whys that come with the social contact: why us; why now; why here?
Why is she so happy, so excited? Why does she clearly want our company, and not merely the food or warmth we can provide? From what arises this joyous alignment of so many of what ought to be coincidences? What ties, after all, bind any of us together? Your misplaced mythbusting might keep you warm at night; but I’d recommend getting a cat instead.