Cats are sparing with their affection, but it is a fallacy that cats do not bond with humans. In fact, most felines will imprint upon one clear and obvious, “favorite person.” This human will likely receive the majority of the cat’s attention and fondness.
Cats choose their favorite person based on who understands them best. This means a human that responds correctly to feline body language and wishes. Providing food and play, keeping the cat safe and an appealing scent can also be factors. Cats also remember their past treatment. Positive memories will help a cat imprint on a person.
A cat’s favorite person is not always an owner. It could be a friend, family member, or lodger. The feline heart is not fickle, though. Once a cat imprints upon somebody, it rarely falls out of love. The cat’s affection must be repaid with appropriate kindness and care.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Do Cats Bond with Only One Person?
- 2 How Do Cats Pick a Favorite Person?
- 3 Signs That You are a Cat’s Favorite Person
- 4 My Cat Misses its Favorite Person
- 5 Why Do Cats Like Me So Much?
- 6 Why Does My Cat Hate Me?
Why Do Cats Bond with Only One Person?
Trust is hard to come by in a cat. Cats are mesopredators – both hunters and prey. This means that cats are aware of their place in the food chain. Anything larger than a cat is a potential danger. This includes humans.
Bonding with one human and offering complete trust and adoration takes time. Bonding with many at once requires a herculean effort beyond most felines. Cats rarely dislike humans without reason. They will often just gravitate to one person in over others.
Cats typically choose a favorite person based on behavior. This also explains why felines prefer particular pets or neighborhood cats over others. Cats are meticulous in their needs and desires. Any human that understands these will immediately curry favor. Typically, a cat will choose a favorite person that:
- Offers affection but does not handle the cat unnecessarily
- Provides food, treats, and petting on demand
- Makes the cat feel safe and secure
- Responds when the cat communicates
- Understands what the cat wants privacy
- Has the right pleasant smell
- Reminds the cat of happy memories
Do not take offence as an owner if your cat prefers somebody else. There are a multitude of reasons for this, some of which are beyond your control.
How Do Cats Pick a Favorite Person?
A wide array of factors contributes to cats imprinting upon a human. On some occasions, this choice of human may appear random. It may be somebody the cat barely sees or is allergic to felines. There will always be an explanation for the favoritism, though.
The way to a cat’s heart is through its stomach. Cats recall places and people that offer food and treats. In the mind of a cat, the provider of food is somebody that can be trusted.
There is more to gaining a cat’s adoration than just offering food, though. If a cat is hungry enough, it will find a way to eat. Forget the myth that cats will attach themselves to anybody that feeds them. You must also adhere to a strict schedule.
Cats like to know they will be fed at the same time each day. Eventually, this association between food and humans will become entrenched in a cat’s mind. The cat will never want to be far from its primary caregiver.
Scent is arguably the most important of a cat’s five senses. As felines grow older, they steadily start to lose eyesight and hearing. A cat’s nose stays sharp throughout its life, though.
This is critical for a cat’s wellbeing, as scent helps a feline identify humans. No matter what soap or cosmetics we use, our bodies carry a distinct aroma. We cannot detect this, but to a cat, it’s as unique as a fingerprint.
A smell that a cat finds appealing will always attract a feline. Cats smell their food to decide if it will be tasty. They do the same with humans. Natural scents are also welcoming to cats. This makes you a blank canvas that as considerably easier to mark through rubbing.
The opposite is also true. The scent of dogs for example, or an aggressive neighborhood cat, will keep felines away. Cats will only imprint upon people they can trust. Aroma plays a large part in establishing this bond.
Voice and Temperament
Cats pay a great deal of attention to human voices and expressions. As explained by Animal Cognition, this creates an emotional connection in the cat’s mind. Cats attach to humans that create a positive emotional connection through voice and temperament.
Cats feel comfortable around humans that speak in a soft, calm tone. Cats are easily stressed, especially by sudden loud noises. Cats struggle to imprint upon a human with a deep, booming baritone. This sparks anxiety, as the cat fears it is in danger of being scolded.
Your facial expression will also play a part in feline bonding. Cats do not understand the many and varied nuances of human faces. They can tell the difference between a smile and a frown, though. The former will always make a cat feel safer.
Cats are particular when it comes to attention. Earning the affection of a canine is comparatively easy. You just need to shower it with attention, scratching and tickling for hours on end. Cats take a different approach.
Handling is often a hot-button issue with cats. Felines typically like to keep all four paws on the ground. Respecting this will earn a cat’s adoration. Picking a cat up uninvited, especially from behind, will not.
Some cats loathe being handled in any circumstance. As explained by Applied Animal Behavior Science, this may be due to the cat’s history. Cats can associate handling with medical examinations or procedures. This means that handling can cause undue stress.
Anybody that keeps distance and lets a cat decide when it is handled will be popular. This is difficult for cat lovers, who instinctively seek handling to show affection. Respect the wishes of the cat and let it manage any physical interaction.
Most cats enjoy playtime with humans. This is dedicated one-on-one attention, provided when the cat wants it. It also strengthens the bond between a human and cat. Different cats have different preferred play styles, though.
Understanding how a cat likes to play is a fast way to bond. Cats will always gravitate to people that provide the most fun with the least effort. The common frequent styles of feline play are:
- Birding – jumping and capturing toys on strings
- Hide and Stalk – hiding out of sight then leaping upon a prey toy
- Pouncing – leaping upon a ground-based moving target
Experiment with each of these play styles and games, seeing which your cat prefers. You’ll know by your cat’s reaction. Felines never stick long at a task that bores them. If the cat willingly plays for 20 minutes or longer, it is enjoying itself.
Once you have established this play preference, bring it into your relationship with your cat. This will ensure that you constantly remain at the forefront of your pet’s affection.
Communication is critical to cats. It can be frustrating for a feline to feel misunderstood by a human. Being ignored is even worse. If body language and verbal cues go unnoticed, a cat feels justified in scratching or biting.
Purring is a helpful example. Many people assume that purring is simply an expression of feline contentment. Cats also purr to self-soothe when afraid or in pain, though. Current Biology refers to this as, “the cry embedded within the purr.”
Equally, cats reserve verbal communication almost exclusively for humans. While cats may hiss or growl at each other, only humans hear a meow. Different inflections of meow carry different meanings and requests. Trying meowing back at your cat and see what happens.
A person that understands a cat’s wishes, and promptly reacts accordingly, will always be favored. Just like humans, cats want to feel understood and listened to. To stand a greater chance of your cat imprinting upon you, learn the meaning of vocalizations.
Never underestimate the potency of memories on a cat’s behavior. It is commonly claimed that a feline’s short-term memory only lasts for a few hours. Cats will remember important events and people, though.
Integrative and Comparative Biology explains that memory impacts a cat’s gait and walking patterns. Cats recall if they hit an obstacle in a particular location in the past. If necessary, the cat will adjust its walking route in the future. The same applies to people.
If a cat has been mistreated, this will not be forgotten. Cats may forgive bad behavior, but they remain on their guard. The trust of a cat is tough to gain and easy to lose. This is why the bond between human and feline must be managed carefully.
The opposite is also true. Cats recall the people that treat them with care and kindness. Cats do not automatically assume that everybody is friendly. Due to their small stature, cats are initially cautious around strangers. Confidence will build over time.
This can all apply in more general terms, too. Cats may associate humans with the actions of another. If somebody is reminiscent of a favored human, the cat will gravitate toward them. If somebody reminds a cat of past mistreatment, they will be regarded with caution.
Signs That You are a Cat’s Favorite Person
Cats cannot explain their emotions verbally. Despite this, a cat is constantly informing you of how it feels. See the table below for key examples of feline body language, and how they represent affection.
|Tail curled upward||A cat that is happy to see you will approach with its tail high, curled like a question mark|
|Requesting petting||Many cats do not like to be touched unless they invite it. If the cat regularly asks for petting, it clearly loves you.|
|Constant rubbing||When a cat rubs against you, it is marking you with its scent. This is a message to other felines to back off – you are taken.|
|Slow blinking||This behavior is known as a, “cat kiss.” Cats reserve the act of staring and slowly blinking their eyes for treasured humans.|
|Licking||If you are licked during petting or handling, consider yourself blessed. This is a major – and rare – display of feline adoration.|
|Presenting the bottom||The cat is not being rude. It is inviting you to scent the happy pheromones emitting from its anal glands.|
Most of these behaviors will be reserved for a favorite person. Cats will not like to reveal feelings to anybody they are not completely comfortable with. In addition, cats will demonstrate other behaviors that are typically reserved for a favorite human.
Following You Around
When a cat imprints on a person, the human replaces the cat’s mother. This means the cat will act in the same way it did as a kitten. The cat will follow its favorite human around, watching and listening to every movement and action.
This is because cats are born imitators. This how felines learn. A cat’s mother taught it to eat, drink, and use the litter tray. Now the cat knows what you can teach it.
Ensure this shadowing is a result of affection, not anxiety. Cats may also follow humans as they afraid to be alone. In this instance, the cat’s demeanor will differ. It will be skittish and nervous, often hiding and watching you from afar.
Sleeping on Your Bed
A cat insisting on sleeping with you is a substantial seal of feline approval. Cats feel wholly vulnerable when they sleep. As a result, cats will only doze with humans they trust implicitly. Cats will often seek out a favorite person to sleep with.
There are pros and cons to sleeping with a cat. The benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks, though. The biggest advantage is the positive impact this has on your bond. As long as you are consistent with rules, your cat will imprint by sleeping with you.
It should be noted that this consistency is key. You cannot let a cat sleep with you sometimes and not others. Felines do not understand nuance, like shared beds or clean laundry. Cats just want to sleep with their favorite person.
As territorial animals, sharing does not come naturally to felines. Cats operate a simple philosophy – “what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine too.” A cat will only consider sharing with a human that provokes significant affection.
The best example of a cat sharing is presenting things at your feet. This will most commonly be a toy. The cat may just be asking for play. Equally, though, it is sharing something that brings it joy. The cat wants you to enjoy this pleasure too.
Some cats will even share food, though this is rarer. Even the most affectionate cat will guard meals with its life. All the same, on occasion a cat may drop a treat at your feet. What’s likelier is that the cat will provide you with a gift.
A cat’s idea of a gift frequently differs from the human definition. Cats are prone to presenting the carcasses of dead birds or rodents to favored humans. Cats present humans with prey corpses for a number of reasons. They all stem from affection, though. Common explanations include:
- Wishing to impress a favorite person by demonstrating hunting prowess
- Concern that the favored human cannot hunt and may be hungry
- Showing the human that it is willing to share a fresh kill
Most felines will stick with killed prey. In the cat’s mind, it is helping you out. Keep this mind when you react. Throwing the corpse away in disgust will upset the cat.
My Cat Misses its Favorite Person
The cat will notice when a favorite human is not around. This can lead to pining and even depression. The cat may also experience separation anxiety. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association confirms that felines suffer this psychological ailment.
If your cat seems out of sorts, it may be missing an imprinted human. This can be difficult to manage especially after a bereavement. When a cat slips into depression, it becomes withdrawn and lethargic. The cat may also lose appetite, which is dangerous.
Most cats will bounce back from this eventually. The cat will not forget a favorite person but will learn to accept their absence. You’ll need to be patient. Attempt to lift your cat’s spirits in the meantime. Offer plenty of distractions, including the novelty of play and new toys.
You could also attempt to imitate this missing favorite person. Wear their choice of perfume or cologne and mimic their mannerisms and communication style. This will bring a measure of comfort and routine to the cat.
Why Do Cats Like Me So Much?
A curious affectation of cats is that they approach people that want it least. Cats often attach to people with feline allergies, for example. Equally, you may attract cats despite not particularly liking them.
It is this indifference that attracts felines. Your cat will watch from afar and observe your body language and behavior. This will reveal your intentions, whether you are aware of it or not.
A cat lover will start cooing on sight and likely attempt petting at once. Some cats will reject this out of hand. Cats like to call the shots when it comes to attention from humans. Unwanted and unrequested handling can cause a cat distress.
Somebody with allergy or disdain for cats will not pick the cat up. This automatically makes them appealing. In addition, avoiding cats means you will not smell like other felines. This makes the idea of rubbing against you and marking you with scent irresistible.
Deterring this attraction leads to a Catch-22 situation. Remaining indifferent to cats just makes you more appealing, but you cannot behave cruelly. Ask the cat’s owner to step in. If the cat is distracted it will forget about you – at least in the short term.
Why Does My Cat Hate Me?
A cat imprinting on somebody else over an owner can feel like a betrayal. Psychological Reports surveyed 100 cat owners, finding the promise of unconditional love the primary benefit of the relationship. If the cat shows this to somebody else, it may hurt your feelings.
Just because a cat has a favorite person, it doesn’t mean it dislikes everybody else. There is room in a cat’s affections for multiple humans to varying degrees. A cat’s choice of favorite person can be completely arbitrary. Alternatively, it may be the novelty of somebody new.
Cats know that their owners love them and care for them. A friend or neighbor can be a sporadic presence in the cat’s life that brings excitement. The relationship is similar to a child seemingly preferring a fun aunt or uncle to a parent.
Unless your cat physically cowers in your presence or behaves aggressively, it loves you. The cat would not live in your home if that was not the case. It could find somebody else to provide food and petting if pushed. Try not to take imprinting on somebody else to heart.
Cats choose their favorite person for a range of reasons. Some of these are logistical, and others are purely instinctive or emotional. The role of a cat’s favorite person is an honor and privilege, though. It must always be treated as such.