Categories: affection

Do cats fancy humans?

Yes, domestic cats can fancy humans! That is my bold decision after researching the question and thinking about it. I think you have to inject a bit of science into the answer. I don’t want to waffle on in a vague way. I want to be precise and try and get to the bottom of it. Firstly, I think that if you fancy somebody it does not mean that you have fallen in love with that person. I mention this because Google finds a website about cats where they equate fancying somebody to falling in love with them. I think that’s misleading.

Sweet affection between two species of animal. Photo in public domain.

I prefer to look at what happens in the brain when you fancy somebody. You feel good and therefore the question has a lot to do with brain chemistry. Chemicals (hormones) such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are released. Dopamine creates a sense of pleasure. Serotonin is sometimes called a “happy chemical”. It makes humans feel better and happier. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” as it encourages people to snuggle up or bond. It is released by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

Photo: Pinterest.

So do cats produce these chemicals which flood the brain when they spend time with a significant other (SO) that they “fancy”? About six years ago I wrote about a study which concluded that the cat’s brain produces oxytocin. This, I believe, is quite a conclusive study because it means that a cat can at least theoretically “fancy” somebody. I had thought that I would come to a dead end in research about whether domestic cats create the hormones referred to above. Without them I don’t think a cat can fancy a human.

We do know that cats like and dislike other cats and people. It seems to me that domestic cats can make friends with other cats in a similar way that humans make friends. They have preferences about cats and I would guess that domestic cats have preferences regarding the character of a cat. But can they go further in their feelings?

Person Loves Cat. Cat loves person. Photo by Yashna M.

But, except for the research by Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, nobody has done a study on the brain chemistry of a cat in the context of them fancying another cat. However, we know that cats produce serotonin because vets treat cats with antidepressant drugs, including serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine. These increase the production of serotonin which means serotonin is present in a cat’s brain.

Despite these positive indicators I don’t believe that we can answer the question in the title with certainty. We can say though, as metioned, that cats make close friends with people. They bond with people. They will bond with a human caregiver who is loving and who does all the right things. They take pleasure from the relationship. It makes them happy – a key component of the relationship because it indicates that hormones are produced. Perhaps one or more of the hormones mentioned above is produced. If so cats can fancy humans in the same way humans do.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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