What is it about cats and women? Why are there “cat ladies” but not “hamster ladies”? Why do so many women seem to gravitate towards cats? The crazy-cat-lady stereotype aside (by the way, every segment of the population has its extremes, cat-loving women shouldn’t have to take a bad rap for a few odd birds) I know many more women than men who have a special bond with their cats. So, what’s the rub?
A new study supports the idea that a special relationship exists between women and cats. To be published in the journal Behavioural Processes, the study explains how researchers observed the interactions between 41 cats and their human families; the scientists noted all behaviors of both cats and humans, and also assessed their personalities as well as their influence over one another. While many people might consider cats to be aloof, self-serving prima donnas, the study concludes otherwise; beyond food-seeking behavior of the cats, they found that cats forge true attachment to their owners.
Here’s a summary of what they found.
The researchers witnessed a mutual social interaction in which both cats and people signaled to each other when they wanted to give or receive affection.
Cats keep track of how their needs are being met. They were more likely to respond to owners’ needs, if their owners had previously responded to theirs.
Cats seem to remember kindness and return favors later. If owners grant their feline’s wishes to interact, then the cat will often reply to the owner’s wishes later.
Cats have an edge in this negotiation, since owners are usually already motivated to establish social contact.
While men got along with their cats, researchers saw more interactions between women and their animals, finding that cats were more likely to approach women than men and to do things like jump on their laps to initiate contact. Study author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News that women’s relationships with their cats were “more intense.”
For a humorous look at one feline’s love for his female, watch this hilarious video from BBCComedy: