Domestic cats’ desire to touch tells us that they are sociable

There is quite a lot of discussion on the Internet about whether domestic cats are or are not sociable. The debate is valid because the wildcat ancestor of the domestic, the Near Eastern wildcat, is not sociable. We are told that they are solitary creatures.

Marvin and Daisy
Marvin and Daisy. Marvin reaches out to touch his dog companion. Photo: DW.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

However, you will find that the experts agree that the modern-day domestic cat is certainly sociable in general. Obviously within the context of a general sociability there are individual cats who will prefer to be solitary.

A clear sign that domestic cats have evolved over 10,000 years of domestication to be sociable is that they love to touch. The video below shows two cats touching noses while snoozing. And the video in the tweet below shows a domestic cat touching her sheep friend by rubbing up against her. Note: remember please that sometimes videos stop working for reasons beyond my control. If this has happened I apologise.

But of course it goes far wider than that. I am sure that most cat guardians have experienced their cat reaching out their paw to touch their hand while they are on their caregiver’s lap. And indeed, just being on a person’s lap is a form of touching a person and therefore a clear sign of sociability.

It’s this desire to touch which is very noticeable to me as my cat always holds his paw out and puts it on mine. He needs to do it. He needs to touch my hand. This mirrors the needs of humans to touch. We all know that humans are highly sociable creatures.

Cat touching person
The domestic cat’s desire to touch always comes out. Photo: Michael

People need to hug other people and hold their hands etc.. It’s like food for the emotions. It’s reassuring. Touching goes to the root of our being. Our need for it is in our DNA and if we don’t touch we can become “touch starved”.

The coronavirus pandemic is resulting in touch starvation. Social distancing during the pandemic is, they say, causing mental health problems and you can see why. The lockdowns to which we are subjected force people apart against their instincts and needs.

Those of us who live with cats can find reassurance and comfort when touching them and when they touch us. It’s a point that needs to be made and a conclusive indication that domestic cats are sociable creatures.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior
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