Do cats choose their human? Not in all circumstances, of course, but you can find many stories of people who tell us that, yes, their cat chose them.
Sometimes the choosing is a bit more subtle. You pick up a cat somewhere and bring him home, but then the cat still has a choice to make. Although he can bond with more than one person, he commonly picks one human to become his favorite. In this way, even though you brought him home, he still chooses the person he prefers for his favorite human.
A point that needs clearing up: A cat does not have an owner. Yes, of course, in legal terms, you must be identified as the cat’s owner, but a cat is a living creature. He is not a commodity that you can own, like a loaf of bread or a chair.
He may choose you as his favorite person, and may bond with you very closely, but no one “owns” the cat.
The belief that cats are cold and aloof is totally inaccurate. I think part of the reason that people believe such false information comes about because they compare cats to dogs. A dog is a pack animal. He has the instinct to join with a group of dogs, and when he hunts, he hunts as part of a group, not all alone.
Therefore, he has the desire to become part of a group. He feels more secure with others around him. He has been bred to respond to the leader of the pack. When he becomes part of a human family, it becomes his “pack,” and he identifies his leader from this group. He does his best to generate positive acceptance from this designated leader.
He also often develops a spirit of cooperation with other pack members; thus, in a human group, he will do his best to be acknowledged and accepted.
A cat, on the other hand, hunts by himself. Not only that, but because in the wild he becomes both predator and prey, he tends to exhibit great caution so he does not attract the attention of a predator. His “coldness and aloofness” becomes merely a remnant of this built-in protectiveness. Once secure in his surroundings, this coldness and aloofness may disappear.
You can see, then, that a cat first has to learn to trust. Once he trusts you, his attitude can change a great deal.
Why will the cat select one person over another to bond with? We can see several reasons. First of all, a cat can sense things about you that you do not need to tell him. Often, he has an idea as to whether you fill the role of “favorite human” or not. Therefore, he has, to some extent, a preconceived notion about you.
He will investigate those feelings about you as he gets to know you. You can perhaps understand the reasons why the cat selects you as his favorite human. Consider these factors that help influence his decision.
You Feed Him
Your cat remembers who feeds him. It’s one step to gaining trust and bonding, but only one of the reasons. Not only does kitty want his meal, but because he lives by routine, he wants it at the same time each day. Helping a cat to live by his routine earns you points.
I’ve always considered cats to be opportunists. If they find a situation that they like, they want it continued, and will return again and again to take advantage of this opportunity.
Here is one that may surprise you. A cat prefers to look for a lack of handling in a human companion. The cat will more often gravitate to a human who does not handle him so much.
Yes, the cat usually likes affection and petting, but only when he requests it. He wants to remain in control of his environment. If you forever pick him up and fondle him, he may feel powerless and out of control.
It’s why the cat might show extra attention to someone with allergies or someone who doesn’t really like cats. He does not realize why they leave him alone, but he likes it. As this person does not go out of his way to pay attention to kitty, he may rub against the person or show interest in him. Unfortunate if you have allergies, but kitty doesn’t realize your problem.
Understanding Cat Communication
Though kitty can’t speak, he does his communication primarily through body language. If you can figure out his message, you will gain extra points.
Thus, pay attention. Know when a cat wants your attention and when he wants to be left alone.
When you speak to your cat, try to use a soft voice, or pitch your tone in the high range. If your voice has a bass tone, he may not like it. Speak softly!
Actions And Scent
If a cat acts like he dislikes you on sight, it may not be you, but perhaps you (or your scent) reminds him of some unpleasant experience from his past.
It might be your cologne; it might be your appearance. Once, my cat, Pogo, got very excited because a visitor reminded him of someone he really liked and had not seen for some time. He made a big fuss over her. Her hair style and color caused him to mistake her for his friend.
Once he smelled her fingers, he realized that this person was not his special friend.
Does He Follow You?
You will see one sign that a cat has chosen you for his favorite human if he follows you everywhere. Eventually he will probably sit at your side or on your lap.
Do You Share A Bed?
If you have become a favorite of your cat, he will most likely want to sleep with you. Of course, part of the reason for this involves warmth and comfort, but it also involves the way you smell.
He knows if you sleep together, you can protect each other from danger. If the cat hears a sound, he will let you know. He also expects that you will watch out for him.
Do You Punish Your Cat?
Now, that’s a good way to alienate the cat. If you punish him, he will not understand what he has done to deserve it, beause he lives by his rules, not yours, and in his eyes he acted as best as he could to further his own interests.
Punishing him can lead to distrust and also to avoidance. He does not want to spend time with someone who shouts or physically reprimands. You will generate fear in your cat, not love.
Instead, find a way to positively reinforce good behavior and figure out how to redirect behaviors you feel inappropriate.
What About Shelter Cats?
Cats in a shelter have a better chance to choose you for their human, and if they feel you might provide the home they desire, they may find a way to convince you to select them.
I will give you two examples of such behavior. Read this review of Paul Koudonaris’s book, “A Cat’s Tale.” Paul came to the shelter for another cat, who had unfortunately gone to another home. As Paul was leaving, a paw shot out of a cage and grabbed him.
The paw pulled him in closer, looked in his eye, and let him know she was the cat for him.
My other example is of my cat, Carlos, who decided he wanted to go home with me. As I had already decided I wanted him, he made my decision so much easier by letting me know he wanted to be with me.
Cats Domesticated Themselves
When it comes down to the wire, we didn’t domesticate cats. They domesticated themselves because they wanted the advantages we could offer: food, good shelter, protection from predators. Once they moved in, they selected the human who would be their favorite.
In order to become the human our cat chooses, we need to know how to gain his to trust. In the following video, you will see a summary of ways to earn a kitty’s to trust. This video may help you understand how to best relate to your cat.
Enjoy your cat — he has so much of value to offer you. Learn to understand his needs and desires and consider yourself honored if you become chosen as his favorite person.
References I used for this post: