We all know how it is. We have this wonderful cat, and she usually just ignores most of our friends. That is, until that one special friend comes over to visit. You know who I mean – I am referring to your buddy who does not like cats. When this person arrives, your wonderful cat decides to come and visit, sitting right on his or her lap. WHY??? This question has mystified (and amused) cat people for years. Why does your cat want to be with the one person who wants nothing to do with her?
Why do cats pay attention to those who are not so interested in cats? Honestly, we may never know. This is one secret that cats will never reveal to us. There are, however, a couple of theories that seem to make some sense. Here they are – you decide for yourself if they seem valid.
Even more than dogs, cats hate to look you in the eye for any length of time, and they seriously dislike being stared at. It can make them very uncomfortable, and nine times out of ten the cat will walk away from a person who is staring at them. Now, picture your cat when your cat-loving friends come over to visit. These friends are inclined to be very interested in your cat, and to look at him and attempt to get his interest. If they stare at him, your cat might decide to avoid them.
On the other hand, if your friend who does not care for cats comes over, what does she do? She tends to ignore your cat, which is very appealing to your cat. Your cat will investigate the person who is ignoring him in order to find out what’s going on with that person. He’ll be curious, rather than intimidated, as he would be by the friend who takes a direct interest in him.
If you have a larger gathering, and both kinds of friends are invited, where is your cat going to gravitate? He is going to the safest lap in the room, and from his perspective that is going to be the person who ignores him and never threatens him. He is landing in the lap of the friend who is least interested in his being there.
Body Language/Prey Reaction
This is very close to the staring theory. Cats are very sensitive to body language, and possess a strong inherent mistrust of any potential predator, including humans. Again, it seems counterintuitive, but the person who is the least interested in the cat is one who displays the least intimidating body language. Cats see us as potential predators, until we prove that we are not. This is why it is so hard to corner a cat; their prey response is always active.
So try telling your friend who does not like cats to stare down your cat and see what kind of reaction she gets. If this friend changes their body language to express more interest in the cat, she may just get what she wishes for – a cat that completely ignores her.
Photo: Courtesy of seantoyer via Flickr (CC by )