In a massive turn up for the books, it seems that cats are only abrasive if you possess massive social deficiencies.
If there’s one thing we know for absolutely certain, it’s that cats are dicks. It’s what we’ve been told. The feline friend that plans/covets/orchestrates our death is a huge part of the zeitgeist. Be it the iconic laconic tabby that has a taste for stolen Italian food and unwelcome personal truths, or Salem the wisecracking pedant from Sabrina’s teenage witchery, or even Top Cat, the scallywag that spends his time in an alley wasting the time (and brainpower) of the local police force. Pile on top of that the millions of memes, the thousands of cat videos (that launched Buzzfeed) and every personal encounter with a cat, and your mind becomes quickly made.
Cats are dicks. Right?
Pop all that thinking in the bin, as it seems that cats are only dicks if you happen to be one.
Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that many of them are pretty eager to interact with humans – particularly people who decide to introduce themselves.
“In both groups, we found spent significantly more time with people who were paying attention to them than people who were ignoring them,” said Kristyn R. Vitale, a postdoctoral scholar in animal behaviour and author of the paper.
In a previous study, Vitale discovered that cats will choose to interact with us over food and toys. In fact, the study blames us for painting them in such a negative light, because they’re inherently social, but the cage is man-made.
“It’s a cool study, and it does show that when we’re attentive to cats, they are interested,” said Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow who studies cat behaviour at the University of California at Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine and sounds like an interesting fellow. The study went down like this. Researchers placed 46 cats in with a stranger who sat perfectly still on the floor.
For the first part of the test, the person ignored the cat. For the second half, they were allowed to call the cat by name and pet it if it approached.
On average, the cats spent much more time near the human when showered with attention, Vitale said.
Delgado praised the “cat-directed” design of the study, noting that previous research has suggested that cats are usually more into interactions that they instigate.
“Even in the attentive phase, the cat had a lot of control, and that’s really what we think they like – the ability to leave,” Delgado said. “It’s not that they’re aloof. It’s just that they want choice”.
Again, Delgado is a rather interesting fellow.
Clearly, the study has revealed a rather awkward truth. Just like people, some are lovely, and others are just, well, dicks. Frankly, those who assume someone is a dick before they’ve met them, or have made an effort, are real Garfields. Right?