Why are cats so cute?

Some people who surf the internet search for an answer to the question “why are cats so cute?”

The question is probably incorrect. The question should be “why are kittens so cute?” Even as a person who loves cats and all animals I cannot agree that adult cats are in general cute. For me, a better description would be “impressive” or “attractive”. Cuteness is the domain of the kitten because they are universally cute. Why?

Cute Traditional Persian Kitten Cristalline
Cute Traditional Persian Kitten Cristalline. Photo copyright Dani Roseboom.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

It is mostly about appearance. People are fascinated with appearance from homes to cars to refrigerators. For the majority of people, the appearance of something is more important than its function. For me, incidentally, function is more important than form.

The kitten is very small and very vulnerable. She has big round eyes of blue that stare at you and ask for comfort and protection. Then she wobbles about the place making you feel even more protective. Finally she opens her mouth and squeaks. Cute overload.

The kitten is cute for the same reason the baby is cute. Although not all babies are cute! Although, babies are precious and kittens are always dainty when very young but soon move out of the dainty phase into the destructive phase.

I would say that kitten cuteness comes from 80% appearance, 10% behavior, 10% vocalisations. You may well disagree with that.

Some cats keep their cute appearance all their lives. The sort of cat breeds that are more likely to maintain a high cuteness factor are:

  • Traditional Persians (it is impossible to call the flat-faced Persian “cute” more “odd”).
  • Devon Rex – little elfin face.
  • Dwarf cats particularly the Munchkin.
  • Australian Tiffanie – pretty as a picture all the time.

There are others, of course, including individual random bred cats. If an adult cat retains the cuteness factor it is down to facial appearance. A round face with large eyes combined with an expression that says, “I need your love” is guaranteed to push the human mothering button. And it is that button, the parenting and caring instinct in humans that needs to be pushed for a cat to be cute.

You will find that cat breeders often breed for large round eyes. Is this creating cuteness and therefore attractiveness leading to sales? I don’t know if cat breeders are that thoughtful about the process. Can a breeder comment on that?


There are a couple of dangers in finding kittens cute:

  1. Kittens become cats and as I said cats aren’t necessarily cute – more beautiful, amusing and impressive. If a person adopts a kitten because she is cute will the person keep the kitten for the life of the cat? It’s a danger.
  2. People can tend to anthropomorphize kittens to babies. This is not good in my opinion. People should see cats as cats, respect their innate abilities and lifestyle. There is a real danger in seeing cats as babies. One of them is that it encourages declawing. There are others.

18 thoughts on “Why are cats so cute?”

  1. Cats are selectively bred, consciously or subconsciously, to trigger that perception in humans. The rounder the face, the larger the eyes, the more it triggers the infant-care reflex in humans. Those cats will be given more attention, given more food, be more apt to be used for breeding stock. Small dogs are also often selectively bred to have infant-like features. This has been studied and known for decades. You’re basically breeding animals to emotionally-masturbate to.

  2. Hi Michael,

    Okay, thanx for clearing up my misunderstanding about the Persian’s nose. I remember being a bit confused about the same tidbit on an earlier post.

    About the handbags comment – funny 🙂

    I think that vanity and self worth come into play quite heavily when it comes to the “look what I have” mentality. I don’t think too many people buy fancy clothes and clothing accessories, cars, homes, etc so they can sit around all day and admire them. I think the fancy stuff is for show.

    Many like to impress with the highness of their lifestyle. It’s about “I have this and you don’t, ha!”. So that means it’s quite selfish as well.

    You’re right – vanity drives up the prices and in many cases it has nothing to do with function at all. Sad world we live in.


    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=


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