Why Cats Love People Who Hate Them

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Although some cats are more loving than others, most prefer affection when it’s on their terms. According to a new study, that might explain one of cats’ curious characteristics — their tendency to gravitate toward people who don’t like them.

Studying Cat and Human Interactions

Cat behavior scientists at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham collaborated with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for the study, published in Scientific Reports. They enlisted 120 volunteers and asked them questions about factors like their attitudes and experience with felines. Then, they observed the volunteers interactions with felines they didn’t know. They also evaluated the animals’ body language and reactions.

Overall, researchers found even the most experienced cat moms and dads tend to give their fur babies a little too much of a fuss. People who rated themselves more “knowledgeable and experienced” with kitties were more likely to behave in ways that put off their feline friends. The same was true of folks who had lived with multiple cats or who’d lived with cats for many years.

What Cats Love and What Cats Hate

Previous studies showed felines prefer to be touched in certain areas, including the base of the ears, the cheeks, or under the chin. Cats also appreciate it when humans pay attention to their body language and reactions. Prior research also showed cats prefer to be touched in certain areas, like the base of their ears, on their cheeks, and under their chins. The latest study confirmed these results. It also found many “cat people” fail to give felines the space and independence they want.

The more cat experience people had, the more likely they were to hold the felines more than they liked. They were also more likely to touch the animals in areas areas like the tummy or base of the tail, which the cats weren’t that into. Additionally, extroverts tended to initiate interactions with the cats instead of letting the felines come to them.

Generally, the animals preferred people who paid them “passive” attention with minimal touching. They also preferred volunteers who stroked them at the base of the ears or under the chin rather than the tail or stomach.

It might be hard not to give your pet endless cuddles, but when it comes to cats, sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder.