This is a tricky question to answer precisely but I’ll have a go. Please share your views and comments. The love of cats is called ailurophilia. And a person who loves cats is called an ailurophile. Although we are talking here about people who like cats. Many famous people have liked cats. I can think, particularly, of authors. And there, right away, is one reason why people like cats. In this instance we are talking about authors who work quietly alone with their thoughts. What better companion to keep them company during what can be a tortuous emotional time than having a silent and reliable companion next to you; the domestic cat. The cat makes an excellent companion for an author because the character of the cat fits in very nicely with the workflow and demands of the author.
Here are some more thoughts on answering the question.
Personal preferences: this must be the bottom-line reason why people like cats or people don’t like cats or why people love cats or love dogs et cetera. It comes down to the personality and character of the person involved. And there will be many influences on that including the way they been raised, the character and personalities of their parents and which have been inherited by the person and of course the experiences of the person concerned. For instance, a young girl might be given a kitten by their parents and she loves the kitten and the kitten enjoys being around the child and they form a great friendship. This would be the beginning of a great love affair between a person and a cat and cats in the future.
I’m going back to basics here. A person’s personality is dictated to by what is inherited from their parents and their experiences when they grow up. It’s the old nature/nurture principle.
And some people have an innate affinity for cats and feel a deep emotional bond towards them. The mental processes underpinning this emotional connection are very complicated and you can’t necessarily isolate and describe them. But they vary from person to person quite naturally.
Cultural and historical significance. In many cultures, the cat has a significance and in the same culture the dog might also be significant in a negative way. My mind immediately goes to the Islam faith. Most of the world knows that the Prophet Muhammad loved to cats. There are many stories about his love of cats. This has filtered down through many hundreds of years to today to where Muslims should treat cats kindly. Not all Muslims do but that’s the general principle.
Conversely, the Islamic faith is very involved in speciesism because they see dogs as unclean and as a consequence, they are treated far less well than cats. This is how culture and historical events play a big role in a country or region.
And of course, we have Ancient Egypt where the cat was worshipped or that is the myth or legend. I say that because years ago I did some research on this and I discovered that cats were badly abused in the days of ancient Egypt. They were bred to be used to sacrifices to the God Bastet and I guess other gods. And many wild cats were sacrificed. I just don’t see the ancient Egyptians as being cat lovers in the meaning of the word we have today. Although there is a contentious viewpoint. I realise that.
Therapeutic benefits. These are legendary. Why do people like cats? In this case we might ask why a single person of a certain age, retired, might like having a cat companion. The cat will be great company. The person won’t feel so lonely. The cat will become a family member. There will be lots of love between them. This is hugely beneficial to the person and of course to the cat. That’s one example.
And what about the autistic child who has difficulty communicating with other people. It is a well-known attribute of animals that they can tease out the character of an autistic child who might have difficulties communicating. That’s perhaps partly because the cat provides unconditional love. They are non-judgemental. They are just there accepting and interacting in a lovable way provided they are handled correctly.
And what about the child who needs to learn how to take on responsibilities. The parents might say to their child that they should look after the family cat and the child agrees and they learn how to take on responsibility for the caregiving of the family cat. That’s a good learning curve.
Then you have the stressed individual living in a flat who comes home after a hard day and enjoys the company of their cat because they help the person to forget a bad day and the cat reduces their stress through contact and their purr. Why do people like cats? Because they help to destress a tense person. They help to slow that person down. It’s like counting to 10 only better.
Easy to travel with. This is a slightly contentious point because dogs are easier to travel with than cats arguably. But there are many instances on the Internet of hikers and trekkers living out of mobile homes with their cats enjoying life thoroughly. And their cats too. You can do a lot more with cats than people think. They are trainable and they are highly adaptable.
Social media success. These people often make social media videos which are highly popular. That should please the cats’ owner because there is currently a huge desire to be successful on social media. So why should people like cats? Because they make you successful on social media websites vicariously.
Hunting instincts. The domestic cat is a top-line predator which is good and bad. But if you live on a farm and your cat is quite naturally and indoor/outdoor cat they will help to keep down the rodent population which is providing a service. So once again, why should people like cats? Because if you are a farmer living in the countryside, they help to keep your home free of mice.
Quieter companionship. Yesterday I was walking in the park and I spoke to a lady with a dog. I asked whether her dog was quiet as she lived in a semi-detached home. She said that her dog was which was very beneficial to both her and the neighbour but her neighbour’s dogs were noisy. Barking dogs can be a problem. Cats don’t bark! They meow and you can’t hear a meow through a party wall between two homes. And you can’t hear a meow through the floor in an apartment. So once again, why should people like cats? Because they are quiet companions which can be very beneficial to many people living in close proximity to neighbours.
Affectionate behaviour. Almost mythically, domestic cats are considered to be highly independent. This is essentially incorrect nowadays because they are very sociable, lovable and they will love their human companion provided that person knows how to create a good environment for their cat. Strong bonds can be formed between owner and cat. Cats deliver unconditional love. These affectionate bonds are very beneficial to both parties.
Adaptability. I have touched on this above. Many more people nowadays live in apartments in the urban environment. The cats are full-time indoors for their safety and for the peace of mind of their caregiver. Cats could adapt to this particularly if they have been raised within a captive environment. You can’t keep a dog in an apartment and never go out. With cats you can do that provided the apartment has areas within it which are enriched in favour of the cat so that they are mentally stimulating. So once again I would ask why do people like cats? Apartment dwelling people will like cats if they want to keep a companion animal for the above reason.
Allergies. Some people are allergic to dogs but not cats. These people will prefer cats to dogs and will like cats.
Aesthetics. Many people like cats because they love their appearance. The feline anatomy is stunning. This is an animal which has evolved over millions of years to become a perfect predator. Everything about the feline is designed to be a surviving predator. To many people the cat is beautiful. They appreciate the elegance and grace of cats. And there are cat breeds to please the eye of many people who want to purchase a purebred cat. These come in many shapes, colours and forms thanks to selective breeding. There is a cat for everybody in terms of aesthetics.
Entertainment and playfulness. Cats love to play because all play for a cat is a form of hunting and cats have to hunt as it is in their DNA. The good cat owner will play with their cats especially if there are kept indoors full-time. Cats can be fun to watch when they play. Some cats will play fetch and by the way the cheapest, or home-made toys which can be destroyed are the best.
Low maintenance. Domestic cats are relatively low maintenance compared to dogs. In other words they are cheaper to look after than dogs. And here’s a good point: dog owners must take their dogs for a walk. During the winter if they walk in a park, the dog will become muddy. The dog owner will need a tack room near the front door to hose their dog down! Cats don’t get muddy or hardly and if they do they clean themselves. That’s low maintenance and less mud!
Independent nature. Well, I’ve mentioned this already. Yes, cats are more independent than dogs but this should not mean that the cat caregiver shouldleave them alone and not interact with them. Domestic cats love interactions and they need interactions. But if a person is very busy and active arguably they can leave their cat alone during the daytime for longer periods than they can a dog. It is said that dogs should not be alone for more than four hours at one stretch. You could double or triple that for a cat. So what kind of person likes cats? The person who is away from home for eight hours a day. That by the way is not to say that cats can be left alone for long periods. If they are they may well suffer from separation anxiety which is quite common.
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