It’s commonly believed that cats are the more aloof of our four-legged pets, preferring their alone time over socializing. But is this true? We loved the recent findings of a study conducted on whether cats preferred human interaction or food, when given both options. Read more, below….
In the study’s abstract, researchers outlined their intention of determining just how sociable felines are by providing 25 adult cats with 4 stimuli in the form of human interaction, food, toys, and “biologically relevant” scent categories. “It is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable,” they explained. “This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”
During each of the 4 stimuli, the amount of time the cat spent engaging with each stimuli was recorded. The human interaction included petting, vocalization and engaging with a feather toy, either by the cat’s owner, or in the case of a shelter cat, an experimenter. Each stimuli was presented for one minute and then associated with an identifiable cue. For the food, chicken and tuna treats were presented inside a clear cup with a string attached. This stimuli was set up so that the cats could taste the food but not eat the treats quickly so that motivation and focus on the food remained for the 3 minutes. For the scent stimulus, the cats were presented with cotton cloths that each had the scent of catnip, gerbil, and an unfamiliar cat. Lastly, in the last stimuli, a movement toy, a mouse toy, and a feather toy were presented to the cats.
The results of the study showed that social interaction was the most preferred stimulus category. Given the choice between social interaction or to engage with the toys or the treats, over 50% of cats preferred human interaction. Yes, that’s right – the majority of cats will take an ear scratch from their owner before they take a piece of tuna! “Overall,” they concluded, “These findings suggest both social interaction and food could function as reinforcers, providing useful data for behavior modification or cognitive testing.”
Our takeaway? It’s an important reminder to avoid pigeon-holing the species, especially when we continue to learn so many things that surprise us! While they may not show it, our furry felines are happiest when we’re around. For us, this also reinforces the importance of finding quality cat-sitting for trips away. To find out more about Pampered Pet’s top of the line cat services, click here: http://pamperedpetsinc.com/services/
Does this study surprise you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!