In Defence of Cats

Recently, I’ve gotten into the cat-sitting business. April has been pretty hectic so far, as I have been up and down Amsterdam taking care of all sorts of cats. Some need medication, others have a very specific diet, but the one thing they all have in common is this: all they really want is a good cuddle. Now I’m not implying that their current cat-parents are neglecting them, but when they’re on their own for the majority of the day, they just want some good ol’ lovin’.

To me, this isn’t surprising. My own cats greet me at the door every time I come home. Sydney, wearing her 3rd birthday crown in the picture above, even demands that I pick her up and give her a kiss. She will pace around my legs, making trilling noises until I do so.

All my life I have been on the cat-side of the argument, never understanding how or why people hate cats. During my 21 years of life, I have come to the following conclusion: people who don’t like cats have never truly known a cat in their life. Several times I have shared this wisdom with fellow cat-people and none have disagreed. Some have told me that they thought they could never love a cat until they got one; they have never looked back. What I’m getting at here is that I am sick and tired of people refusing to see the truth: cats are sweet, warm, and loving animals.

And—finally—science has come around to back me up. Suck it, haters.

According to an empirical study published in Behavioural Processes, cats have been shown to be nice. The experiment focused on figuring out what type of stimuli domesticated cats preferred, giving 25 pet cats and 25 shelter cats multiple options within the following categories: human social interaction, food, scents, and toys. Each category included three different options to choose from, for example in the food category the cats were able to choose tuna, chicken, or a soft meat treat. These options were tested first in order to establish the individual preference within the categories. Then their preferences of each category were presented to them again, to establish which category is of most importance to the cats.

The conclusion of this research is that, although there is individual variation within the categories, certain stimuli were significantly preferred both within and between categories. Overall, the majority of cats chose human social interaction (50%), followed by 37% choosing food, 11% choosing toys, and 2% choosing scent. The idea that cats have not been domesticated long enough to show preference toward human interaction is not supported by the data collected. However, as a disclaimer, the paper does say that cat sociality may be influenced by a combination of factors such as lifetime experiences, resulting in individual variation, such as certain cats displaying a greater preference for social interaction than others.

When I finished reading this paper, I couldn’t help but think “yeah, well I could have told you that.” I can back-up every single point they make with a personal experience with a cat. I would also like to point out that the internet phenomena of cat videos exists. How is it that millions of people enjoy not only owning cats, but also watching them online? Youtube is flooded with funny cat videos, all of which eventually end up on Facebook. Instagram is run amok with catstagrams (including my own), some cats have even become celebrities, making red carpet appearances.

My conclusion is this: cats are not only nice but they are so human. What I mean by this is that it is so simple to project our human feelings, personality traits, and thoughts onto cats. Cats can be graceful, snobby, and vicious, but they’re also clumsy, silly, and warm. When they miscalculate a jump, only their front paws managing to scrape the table top before slipping to their untimely doom, they seem embarrassed. They get excited about boxes, paper bags, and the plastic that their toys come in. Their characters seem more rounded than other animals, giving cat videos the upper hand over, for example, dog videos. Their humanness make cats the reigning overlords of the internet, and to an extent, our hearts.

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