What is it that makes a cat tick? I find this an interesting topic. It gets into the head of a cat. The fact that a cat can become very, very close to someone (a human, I mean) in a household and pretty much hate another person tells me that a lot more is going on inside the head of a cat than some people care to give credit for.
You can have two nice people in a home, both of whom like cats. There is nothing hostile about them from the cat’s perspective as far as we can tell. There is nothing that is noticeable. And yet a cat will actively dislike one person and love the other. That is the sort of thing humans do.
What is also interesting is that a cat might not like the person who feeds them and basically cares from them as much as someone who is just there giving them the odd cuddle. I don’t think a cat’s preferences is just based past experiences (nurture). Obviously, if a cat has had a bad experience with a person, perhaps a previous owner, he might be wary if someone who looks, behaves, sounds or smells like that person. That is the simple reason why a cat loves one person and dislikes another. But is it just about that?
I don’t think it is because cats also pick their mates in the cat world too. Cat relatives (i.e. brother to sister etc.) usually or always get on and are close. Cats also make close friends with non-relative cats with whom they have no past history. How do they choose them?
The obvious answer is that they choose their friends in the same way we do: chemistry. Chemistry is the total package or bundle of a wide range of factors that add up to something that is likeable for a cat or person.
If a cat gets to like or love a human because the chemistry is right, it is an indication that cats are smarter and have a more complex personality than a lot of people give credit for and these people need to reassess their opinions about the domestic cat.
I think this is one of the problems with the way a lot of people relate to their cat. They just think, “it’s only a cat”. By this they mean the cat is “only an animal”. And by this they mean he or she has no real feelings, does not feel pain like humans, is a bit like an inanimate object and as a result the person can do what they like with the cat.
This attitude by millions and probably billions of people is clearly incorrect even just taking into consideration the way cats choose their close and loved companions.
Original photo on Flickr