You’re either a cat-lover or dog-lover. It’s as black-and-white as the old question of whether you’re a Beatles fanatic or a Stones fan. And people who favor dogs tend to have a collective gripe about cats – they aren’t friendly enough. But will new science bring some canine devotees over to the feline side?
Recent research suggests people sell cats short in the nice department. Oregon State University scientists found empirical evidence that cats are kind creatures. In fact, the study concluded that cats like interacting with humans more than they like eating food. For animals (and some of us gastronomes), this is a big deal.
For testing, scientists took 50 cats both from people’s homes and from a shelter. The felines were deprived of food, toys, and people for a few hours. Afterward, researchers presented the cats with different stimuli within four categories: human socialization, food, scent, and toys.
Once given the choices, about half of the cats preferred social interaction to every other stimulus type. Only 37 percent preferred food. No significant differences were found between the house cats and the shelter cats, which shows the preference toward human interaction isn’t just a matter of habit.
The takeaway? Cats are nice. What’s more, cats seem to be losing the aloof stigma and gaining in kind cred.
For instance, cat cafés are starting to pop up in cities across the country. Here in my hometown of Atlanta, two feline-friendly cafés are slated to open over the next six months. Stop into one when you’re craving a coffee and some one-on-one with a cuddly cat companion.