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Been meaning to drop some anacdotal evidence here on a topic I've seen/heard debated a few times.

Do animals really care/love you, or are they only responding to a food source?

We have a neighborhood cat that started to show up many months back. She has siamese markings with short fluffy hair. Her eyes are blue, bu they are not basically a cat mutt. We call her Siam ('cause we are creative like that). The back ground is that she was abandonded by people who lost house, adopted by some others in neighborhood (I managed to find them), but spend so much of her young life outside she keeps escaping their place. So she is well fed, cared for, and has a home when she wants to go there.

In the time she has been in the neighborhood she has developed a bond with us that is so freaking adorable. She will stop by the house for 5-10 minutes of attention while she is out and about. The timing is when ever she feels like it, but you can see her be-bopping across the lawn, tail up and head high if she spots you. Occasionally we will see her out the sliding glass door too, so she has learned that back door is also a place to find us.

Now, some people would respond that she is only showing up for the reward of getting petted. But the argument I have heard in past is that animals only respond to the person because they provide food. Siam has never been fed by us. Also, the opposite (in a cat's world) of getting petted is pain. I discovered she had been injured (looked like tooth pierce into her chest, big, like dog) and I forced her still while I inspected the damage. Not something a cat likes. Another negative to our house are my two cats, who get along with NO ONE and will chase her away. Lastly, in my normal day to day activities I have not seen her approaching and startled her away with loud noises from garage door, tools, projects.

Despite that, she has still bonded with me. She will actively seek me out for a moment to say hi (very talkative) and to get some attention. Then she is on her way.
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