Meet Tony, our cat. Tony and I are not best buddies, we are hardly friends. For all intents and purposes we merely tolerate each other. I feed him, give him water, let him in and out, but I will be honest we aren't that tight.
But when no one else is home, or when everyone is asleep, you can often find Tony on my lap, or curled up next to me, purring lightly while I dote on him. When I was pregnant and no one could see, he would curl on my belly and purr, and the baby would kick and wiggle in reply (I think they enjoyed it!!).
If you were to ask me, if you saw us together niether Tony nor I would admit that we care, but in secret I love my kitty, and I have no doubt that he loves me too....(although I think he would be quite upset to know I told :)