Why the perception that cats are unfriendly?
Why do we have a perception that cats are unfriendly?
Sometimes in our cat sitting visits we'll come across a cat who wants to snuggle and bond with us right away, and other instance involve a cat who shows aggression and hissing towards our actions. Isn't that the same with dogs? And people too?
In our pet sitting visits, we can be typically sure of a dog's behavior towards us, despite the thousands of years that domesticated cats have kept us company, they still suffer something of a bad perception in the public. The independence of cats that many see is seen by others as aloofness or selfishness. Their detractors claim they only really show affection when a food bowl is empty.
Cat owners claim this is all nonsense, and that their bond with their cat is as strong as any dog owner’s. But why does this image of the aloof, unfriendly cat remain? And is there any truth to it?
"One clue to the cat’s image may come from how they were domesticated in the first place. It was a much more gradual process than that of dogs – and cats were very much in the driving seat. The earliest domesticated cats started appearing in Neolithic villages in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago. They didn’t depend on their early human hosts for food – they were encouraged to fetch it themselves, keeping crops and food stores safe from rats and other vermin. Our relationship with them was, from the outset, a little more at arms’ length than dogs, who helped us hunt and relied upon humans for a share of the spoils."
“Cats are the only asocial animal that’s been domesticated. Every other animal we’ve domesticated has a social bond with other members of its species.”
Given that cats are such an outlier among the animals we live with, it’s no wonder that we might have been getting their signals wrong.
“Because they are so self-determined and can take care of themselves, cats are becoming more and more popular,” Hiestand says. “But whether the lifestyle suits them is another question. Humans are expecting cats to be like us and like dogs. And they aren’t.”
Just like dogs, cats do a lot of communication with their bodies rather than through sound. “I think it’s a lot harder for people to read their body language compared to dogs,” says Kristyn Vitale, a PhD researcher studying cat behaviour. That’s not necessarily the cat’s fault.
Ultimately, Hiestand says, one thing is key – relaxed cats are more likely to want to make friends. “They want their water and their food and their sleeping arrangements and their litter tray just right, and when they are right, they’re able to start exploring those social bonds.”
All quotes taken from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191024-why-do-we-think-cats-are-unfriendly