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Cats Connect with People, and Particularly Women, as Social Partners

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 10:27am
Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog

Cats Adore, Manipulate Women

The study is the first to show in detail that the dynamics underlying cat-human relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds, with cats sometimes even becoming a furry “child” in nurturing homes.

“Food is often used as a token of affection, and the ways that cats and humans relate to food are similar in nature to the interactions seen between the human caregiver and the pre-verbal infant,” co-author Jon Day, a Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition researcher, told Discovery News. “Both cat and human infant are, at least in part, in control of when and what they are fed!”

The researchers determined that cats and their owners strongly influenced each other, such that they were each often controlling the other’s behaviors. Extroverted women with young, active cats enjoyed the greatest synchronicity, with cats in these relationships only having to use subtle cues, such as a single upright tail move, to signal desire for friendly contact.

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats — be they male or female felines — more than men do.

Cats also seem to remember kindness and return the favors later. If owners comply with their feline’s wishes to interact, then the cat will often comply with the owner’s wishes at other times. The cat may also “have an edge in this negotiation,” since owners are usually already motivated to establish social contact.

co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna explained. “A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other’s inclinations and preferences.”

Readers of this blog already know how great cats are, but this is more evidence on how wonderful they are.

Related: The Evolution of House CatsCat that takes the busVideo Cat CamAwesome Cat Cam

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