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Why Do Cats Always Like People Who Don’t Like Cats?

Have you noticed that the people who dislike cats the most seem to have the best luck in befriending them?…

Have you noticed that the people who dislike cats the most seem to have the best luck in befriending them?

It wasn’t until after my mother agreed that I could have one of my friend’s adorable little kittens that she realized just how much my stepfather disliked cats. After my having lost a dog prior to her remarrying, Mom just didn’t have the heart to say no to me. My stepfather was not at all happy with her decision.

I named the kitten “Sugar” and gave her all the attention and love I could give. She, in turn, chose to ignore my affection and concentrate her efforts on winning over my stepfather. I don’t really remember how it happened, but before long, the cat was his. He called her “Kitty” (Original, don’t you think?) and that’s the name that stuck. No one even remembered that the cat was actually named Sugar, and she was mine.

My stepfather was crazy about Kitty and the feeling was mutual. The first thing he would do when he came in the door from work is call for her, to which she would bound happily through the house to greet him while completely avoiding other family members (including me). She had him wrapped around her furry little paw.

Years later, after Kitty had passed away, I became highly allergic to cats. (Weird how that happens, isn’t it?) I was at a friend’s party and had been avoiding her adorable cat. Certainly not because I didn’t want to swoop the cat up and squeeze it, but because I didn’t want the itchy eyes, the runny nose, the hives, and all those unpleasant allergy symptoms. The fact that I was avoiding the cat is exactly why – regardless of all the other cat-lovers at the party – she chose to jump in my lap.

Whenever you get into a group of cat people, there will inevitably be stories told similar to these. Cats are famous for winning the hearts of someone who proclaims their dislike or avoidance towards them.

Why Do Some People Dislike Cats?

What I don’t really understand is why so many people dislike cats in the first place. Sure, if you’re allergic to them, that’s another story. Out of curiosity, I googled “Why do so many people hate cats? One of the most common reasons is that cats are aloof and antisocial when it comes to human relationships. Who wants “aloofness” in a pet, right? Some people think cats are dirty because of all the licking they do, the resulting fur balls, the territorial marking, and, oh yeah, the cat litter box smelling bad. Some people describe cats as sneaky, moody, and unpredictable.

I think cats are just misunderstood.  Humans have lived side by side with dogs for eons.  As a species, we really don’t know all that much about the feline persuasion. We can’t interpret their body language like we can a dog. They don’t have expressive faces – like a dog. We “get” dogs. They want to be with us. They want to please us. Cats? Not so much.

I digress…

The last thing people who dislike cats want is a cat rubbing up against their leg or getting in their face, but in a room full of strangers, that’s exactly what happens.

I read tons of articles on this subject in hopes of finding an “Ah-ha” explanation, but apparently, it’s really not all that complicated (and frankly, makes for a boring blog). Being the independent little enigmas that they are, cats prefer to meet others on their own terms. All the advances we as cat lovers make towards them feel threatening and simply push them away.

Cat Introductions

Have you ever observed two cats meeting as strangers? Generally, it’s not a happy occasion. Cats are very territorial. Aside from all the growling and hissing, they are staring at one another. The eye contact is challenging. The cats try to take on an intimidating posture. It’s like they are saying, “Back away, dude.”

It’s not so different when a cat meets a human for the first time, but the message is more like, “Back away until I say it’s okay.” When a cat-lover meets a strange cat, we are obsessed. We babble and gush — ogling and reaching for them. By doing all this, we are violating their boundaries, and it pretty much freaks them out. So how do they respond? They head for a less threatening human, the safe one, the one who is not looking at them or trying to touch them… and it’s usually the one that doesn’t like them. My stepfather.

How A Cat Meets A Stranger

When meeting someone for the first time, the cat will call the shots. There is some serious kitty vetting that must take place before the cat determines if a person is friend or foe. There will be an inspection, a scent investigation, and an overall sizing-up. The cat wields the scepter.

Do you know how we offer the back of our hand to a dog to sniff when meeting for the first time? A similar action when meeting a strange cat is to offer them your index finger. When the cat feels comfortable, they will come toward your finger and touch it with their nose. When they consent to your introduction, they will rub their face over your finger. There. You’ve made a new friend.

My Theory, For What It’s Worth

Here is my theory: We bring what was once a wild animal into a home environment. The cat’s natural instinct is to claim its territory and what/who they will allow in it. Their territory is important to them, and they will establish one in your home, just as their ancestors did in the wild. Although the availability of food is no longer an issue in your home, old habits die hard. Cats are hard-wired to secure their own area and are wary of “intrusions” (like people) into their space. That wariness causes them to be suspicious of strangers.

True Story: Some Cats Just Don’t Care

I swear – just this evening after working on this blog all afternoon – I was taking a walk when an adorable gray, short-haired cat, comes racing off her porch to meet me as I went by. She clearly was greeting me – a stranger – with much enthusiasm and affection. I was immediately consumed with her, getting down on her level, talking baby talk, stroking her fur. She obviously enjoyed our meeting as much as I did, and as I continued on my walk, she followed me for quite some distance before returning home.

So… I should just shred this blog and move on, right? My new furry friend totally discredited all that I have written.

Here’s the thing: Cats, like any animal, are most often a product of their upbringing. Apparently, the little gray cat I met was raised with lots of friendly people. She was overly comfortable meeting strangers, as are many of the cats that vacation with us at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. While there are many stories of stand-off-ish cats, there are plenty of other stories of friendly, welcoming cats that adore strangers.

I have another theory: Years from now, as the cat is further domesticated, they may advance to have a dog-like enthusiasm for humans. I can see it now! We can have Kitty Daycare at Holiday Barn and have Professional Cat Trainers on staff! Our grooming department will give long-haired cats fashionable haircuts! We can even teach cats how to swim!

Like I said, years from now…

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