Cats have unfairly earned a reputation for being antisocial creatures, so you we can’t blame people for wondering “Are cats friendly?” Of course, any cat owner (ourselves included) will tell you that kitties are just itty-bitty cuddle machines. So, why are so many people still convinced that cats are grumps? According to a new study, cats don’t dislike everyone and everything — just cat-haters.
In a January 2019 study published in the journal Behavioural Processes, researchers observed 46 cats (half were pets and the other half were shelter animals) interact with different humans. First, the human participants were instructed to not interact with the cats for two minutes. Once that time had elapsed, the participants were told to interact with the cat, calling out to it and petting it when it came over. This same experiment was conducted with cats and their owners.
Not surprisingly, the results showed that cats preferred when the participants were attentive and engaged as opposed to ignoring them. After all, you wouldn’t like it if you were out on a date and your partner was on the phone ignoring you the entire time. “In both groups, we found [cats] spent significantly more time with people who were paying attention to them than people who were ignoring them,” lead author Kristyn Vitale said.
Another interesting finding was that shelter cats sought out human attention more than pet cats even when they were ignored. This sad fact could be a result of a traumatic upbringing, or due to the fact that dozens of people — many of whom are unfamiliar to a cat — walk through the doors of an animal shelter, thereby making the cats less cautious about approaching strangers.
If you’re still not convinced that cats are friendly creatures, we suggest just trying to pet one. A little love may go a long way in terms of a kitty cozying up to you.