Cats prefer interaction with people over food

Cats prefer interaction with people over food

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We all know that the dog is by definition the "best friend" of man. But what about cats? Although they are more independent, they also socialize with us and they prefer it that way according to a study from Oregon State University.

The group that brought together researchers from the institution's Department of Animals and Psychology, Kristyn Vitale, Lindsay Mehrkam and Monique Udell, set itself the objective show that cats are friendly to humans.

Study characteristics:

  • An evaluation of free operant preferences was performed with shelter pets and cats.
  • Preference assessment categories included social interaction, food, toys, and smell.
  • There was clear individual variability in cat preference.
  • Most cats preferred human social interaction and food.
  • Preferred stimuli can serve as boosters or enrichment items for cats.

Study summary

It is a popular belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable, because they are more "independent." This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of the stimuli that cats prefer.

This study investigated the preferences of domestic cats at the individual and population level using a free operant preference assessment.

Adult cats from two populations (pets and shelter) received three stimuli within each of the following four categories: human social interaction, food, toy, and smell.

Although there was clear individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the preferred stimulus category for most cats, followed by food for both pet cats and the shelter population.

Most of the felines preferred to interact with humans (50%), rather than playing, eating or enjoying eye-catching aromas. Second, the authors noted that 37% of the cats did not resist the food.

"Increasingly, research into the cat's cognition is providing evidence of its complex sociocognitive and problem-solving abilities."the authors noted.

With information from:

Video: Study: Cats Really Do Care About Their Humans (June 2022).