Your Cat Really Likes Spending Time With You!

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
He likes you! He really, really likes you! Your cat may be playing hard to get, but he loves spending time with you.

So you thought cats were aloof, independent, and that they didn’t really care whether or not you were around, provided that they had food and a soft place to sleep. Well, think again. Research is proving that cats really do care about spending time with their human family. And when given the choice, most would choose human interaction over food. Seriously!

What Long-Time Cat Owners Already Knew

People who have taken the time to really get to know cats probably will not be surprised when they discover that felines really do cherish the time that they get to spend with you. But now, thanks to a study from Oregon State University, even those who don’t consider themselves “cat people” are learning about the love that kitties have for their humans.

Related: How to Tell If Your Cat is Happy

How the Study Was Conducted

Experts were able to test adult kitties who were residing in shelters or living with their owners. First, they isolated the cats from food, as well as social interaction and attention, for 2½ hours. Then, they worked on introducing each cat to various stimuli. Basically, they would present the cats with stimuli in each of the following categories: scent, food, human interaction, and toys.

So, in one session, the researchers would give a cat the chance to play, be petted, and be given human attention by being talked to. In separate sessions, the same cat would be given free access to toys, catnip-scented cloths, and food. During each session, the researchers kept track of how much time the cats would spend on the different stimuli, and how engaged they were with each one.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Cat Happy

The real test, however, came when the cats would be offered all of their most preferred stimuli (their favorite from each category) at the same time. Researchers wanted to see which one the cats would choose first.

The Results

Ultimately, what researchers realized is that there weren’t any big differences in behavior between kitties in shelters and those already living in homes as pampered pets. While one kitty was particularly fascinated with the catnip scent and four kitties preferred the toys before everything else, many of the cats also went for the food first. But food actually came in second place, as half of all of the test subjects decided that they preferred people over all of their other options, so they spent the majority of their final session with humans.

This study also proved that cats could exhibit a wide range of behaviors. In other words, every cat is an individual, and various factors, including life experiences, might play a role in his preferences and social interactions. So some cats might prefer human interaction more than others.

And there you have it: most cats desire being around people, and they will choose human interaction before food and fun, whether they are living in a comfortable home or waiting for their forever home in a shelter. So if you’re searching for a loving companion who will also be pretty low-maintenance, consider heading to your shelter to adopt a cat in need and give him the family he’s been hoping for.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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