For many, cats are seen as being stereotypically aloof, cool, and disinterested in their human counterparts. Generally, pet parents who want an enthusiastic greeting when they arrive home are better off getting a dog than hoping for a cat who will shower them with love and affection. Although aloof cats have become a stereotype, researchers have investigated whether cats really do ignore their human counterparts. Are you sitting down? While felines may seem detached, new research suggests that cats secretly love their human companions.
Cats vs. Dogs
Dogs have been domesticated for centuries and have lived and worked closely with humans throughout history. Early humans domesticated dogs in order to utilize their hunting skills, to use them for protection from predators, and for the simple fact that they often made good company. Because of this pattern of domestication, dogs have been conditioned for thousands of years to pay close attention to people, their emotions, and their commands, whereas cats have not. In the grand scheme of things, cats have been domesticated for a much shorter period than dogs. During their domestication, they have not been socialized in the same way, and therefore are more aloof than dogs. Despite their disinterested demeanor, cats often form strong bonds with their pet parents.
The Secret Lives of Felines
Another reason that cats often seem more aloof than dogs is that felines, by nature, are more solitary than dogs. In the wild, cats generally live alone, and are less inclined to display needs such as sickness or loneliness. Quite simply, any display of vulnerability translates as weakness in the wild. Although this is not the case with domesticated cats, many pet felines are still reticent to display excessive emotion or desire thanks to their biological hard wiring.
Dogs, on the other hand, live naturally in pack settings. Wild dog packs are generally very close-knit and operate on a structure in which a wounded or scared dog will be cared for and comforted by the other animals in the pack. Dogs are therefore naturally more inclined to display emotion, attachment, fear, and vulnerability than their kitty counterparts do.
How Cats Show Love
While dogs enthusiastically display affection toward their pet parents, cats generally do not. It is not uncommon to speak to or stroke a cat without them even seeming to notice. Although cats react more subtly than dogs to their pet parents’ attentions, the truth is that they do react. While a dog may wag it tail or lick someone, a cat will display attention and affection to their human through subtle pupil dilation, tracking behaviors such as looking in their direction, turning an ear towards the sound of their voice, or purring and rubbing up against them.Cats may seem aloof and distant, but recent research has suggested that they are, in fact, very tuned into their pet parents’ presence and attention. While cats may not react the same way as dogs or demonstrate affection in the same, outward ways, it is safe to say that cats do not ignore us.