Do domestic cats prefer women? It seems distinctly possible that domestic cats do prefer women, in general. Obviously there will be specific instances when they don’t. It is quite unusual to ask if cats prefer women. Most reference books don’t touch on this sort of issue. But it is relevant in terms of best cat caregiving. There may be a bigger issue here. For example in veterinary medicine the balance between genders has changed dramatically in the past 40 years. Whereas at one time women were in the minority, in the UK, they now account for almost 60 percent of practising vets. Does this reflects a greater interest in animal welfare in women than in men? Men still prefer dogs, in general.
Hearing and sounds
One reason why this might be the case is because cats’ sharpest senses in descending order are hearing, smell and sight. A cat’s hearing ranges between 40 hertz and 65,000 hertz where’s the hearing of humans is between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz. They are very good at detecting high-pitched sounds because their primary prey animal is the mouse which makes high-pitched vocalisations.
Domestic cats may therefore prefer a woman’s voice which is slightly higher pitched than a man’s. The human voice is generally pitched in the range 200 hertz to 2000 hertz. Speaking to cats: high voice or natural voice?
A study reported on the dvm360.com and NBC News websites (in 2011) stated that researchers concluded that cats “remember kindness and return the favour later”. They also found that young active cats were most fond of extroverted women. The cats only had to use a subtle clue in order for the woman to make friendly contact and interact with them.
The study, published in Behavioural Processes concluded that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners”. And women interact with their cats more than men.
It appears that women may have an advantage over men in that they are more atuned to a cat’s routines and body language, perhaps because they’re more interested in domestic cats. This may allow them to be more able to pick up communications from their cat in terms of vocalisations, routines and body language. This in turn allows them to respond more quickly and more positively which leads to them being “rewarded” by their cats returning the favour later.
Without stereotyping women I believe that it is universally accepted that the majority of cat lovers are women and this predisposes them to being more open and sensitive to feline communication in its various forms.
Therefore, it might be true that cats prefer women because they get more from them in terms of desired interactions and responses to requests. This of course is not to say that there are not millions of men who are better at looking after cats than women. It depends upon the individual character of the person obviously so one has to generalise. This is not a black-and-white situation.
The study was led by Kurt Kotrschal of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna. Forty-One cats participated with their owners over lengthy four-part periods. The personalities of the cats and the owners were noted and every interaction was observed and recorded. The cats influence their owners and vice versa.
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