Choosing a Breed

Do Cats Pick Their Owners?

There’s a question that’s been keeping cat lovers up at night for centuries: do cats pick their owners, or is it the other way around? Some people swear by the theory that their feline friend chose them, while others believe that cats only stick around because they know they can exploit their human companion for food and shelter. So which is it? Do cats select their humans, or are we the ones who choose them?

This article sets out to answer the question by looking at the scientific evidence.

do cats pick their owners?

It’s thought that the bond between humans and cats first began around 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East. Here, people started to farm and domesticated animals, including cats. It’s believed that wild cats were attracted to the farms because they provided an easy food source in the form of rodents. The farmers, meanwhile, welcomed the cats as they helped to keep down the population of pests.

Over time, these wild cats became tamer and started to form bonds with their human companions.

Today, there are around 500 million domestic cats in the world and it’s thought that around 30% of households in the US have at least one feline friend. So why do we love these creatures so much? Well, research has shown that spending time with cats can have a number of benefits for our health. For example, one study found that people who owned cats were 30% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who didn’t.

So it seems that there are plenty of reasons why we might choose to have a cat as a pet. But what about the other way around?

holding a kitten

Do cats select their humans?

There’s no denying that cats can be fickle creatures. One minute they’ll be purring away on your lap and the next they’ll be giving you a disdainful look before stalking off into another room. This aloof behavior has led some people to believe that cats see us as nothing more than a means to an end, i.e. a food source and a place to sleep.

However, there is evidence that cats do form bonds with their human companions. (and anyone who has a bond with a cat will confirm!) For example, a study from 2017 found that cats and owners interact more with each other after a longer duration of separation. This suggests that cats have a desire for human companionship and social interaction, and that they see their human owners as an important part of their social environment.

More recent research has also shown that cats can recognize their own names and respond accordingly, even when spoken to by a stranger. This suggests that cats do form a connection with their owners and see them as individuals, rather than just a source of food.

So it seems that there is some evidence to suggest that cats do pick their owners. But what about the other way around?

Do we choose our cats based on some sort of subconscious bias?

A survey of pet adopters taken from five different animal shelters in the United States in 2012 showed that appearance is one of the top three reasons people chose the cat or kitten they adopted. This suggests that we are drawn to things that remind us of ourselves, a previous pet, or something we think is extra cute.

cute black cat

So it seems that there may be some truth to the idea that we choose our cats based on some sort of subconscious bias. But what about the cats themselves? Do they have any say in the matter?

Unfortunately, we can’t ask a cat whether it chose its owner or not. However, there is some evidence to suggest that they may be more likely to bond with someone who treats them well. For example, a study from 2011 found that cats were more likely to form a close bond with their owner if they were given food, water, and shelter. This suggests that cats do form attachments with people who provide for their basic needs.

So it seems that there may be some truth to the idea that cats pick their owners.

But ultimately, the decision of who gets to live with a feline friend is probably down to a combination of factors, including chance, biology, and our own subconscious biases.

All in all, it seems like both parties have something at stake when it comes to choosing a feline friend. So the next time you’re at the shelter looking for a new cat, keep in mind that your future furry friend may have already picked you!

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