Do Cats Have a Favorite Person?

Do Cats Have a Favorite Person?

If you're a cat owner, you know how house cats strut, slink, and stalk throughout their homes, seemingly indifferent to the world around them. There's a common stereotype of cats as solitary creatures—aloof, self-reliant, and seemingly uninterested in human affection. However, despite this image, they are remarkably social creatures and can be very sweet and loving.

Any cat owner has asked one burning question that is hard to answer: Do cats have a favorite person? With other pets, it's relatively easy to discern who has earned their approval. Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves, seemingly wagging themselves into circles with joy whenever they see their favorite people.

Cats are a different matter – understanding the nuances of our cats' behavior can unravel the complexities of their emotional state, challenging our perceptions of their social preferences.

Understanding Cat Socialisation

Unlike dogs, which are often straightforward in their expressions of love, cats exhibit affection in more subtle, nuanced ways. A cat may show its fondness not by exuberant leaps and tail wags but through quiet purring sessions on a favored lap, gentle head-butts, or even slow, deliberate blinks. These signs may be understated, but they are significant indicators of affection.

The question of how cats choose their preferred human is complex. Various factors influence their choice:

  • The tone of voice
  • The gentleness of handling
  • Even the consistency of the person's daily routines

Cats are observant creatures and often gravitate towards individuals who provide a stable source of affection and consistently meet their needs.

Scientific Studies on Cat Attachment

Recent scientific research has significantly advanced our understanding of how cats form attachments to their human caregivers, suggesting that cats can develop bonds comparable to those seen in humans and dogs. These findings challenge the traditional view of cats as solitary and independent animals.

In a study on kitten attachment styles led by Kristyn Vitale at Oregon State University, researchers employed a method known as the "secure base test" to explore attachment behaviors in cats. This test, similar to those used for infants and dogs, involves a sequence of interactions, including a reunion phase where the cat's response to their caregiver's return after a brief absence is observed.

Cats demonstrating secure attachment were observed to balance their attention between exploring their environment and interacting with their human, showing signs of comfort and reduced stress upon their caregiver's return. In contrast, cats with insecure attachments exhibited stress behaviors, such as avoidance or clinging excessively to their caregiver​.

These studies show that many cats—similar to the percentages observed in human infants—form secure attachments to their caregivers. The results suggest that these attachment styles are stable over time and not easily altered by training or socialization. This indicates that attachment may be an intrinsic part of the cat's relationship with their human caregivers​.

This research highlights the depth and flexibility of social relationships cats can form with humans, suggesting that attachment in cats may be a biological trait evolved for enhancing survival within human environments. This deeper understanding helps explain the diverse ways cats interact with people, providing a more nuanced view of their social capacities and emotional needs.

The Role of Environment and Upbringing

A cat's early experiences can profoundly impact its social preferences. Kittens exposed to various humans in a positive context tend to be more friendly and less fearful than adults. Conversely, a cat raised in a single-person household might appear more bonded to that individual simply due to familiarity and comfort.

Contrasting Views

However, some skeptics argue that cats are more opportunistic in their affections, suggesting their behavior is driven by who feeds them or provides warmth rather than genuine affection. While it's essential to consider these perspectives, they often overlook the emotional depth that many cat owners witness.


This exploration into whether cats have a favorite person reveals a complex tapestry of socialization, attachment, and individual preference. While it is clear that cats can show preferences for specific individuals, the way they express their affection is unique and can vary widely from one cat to another, depending on their temperament and breed. Siamese cats and Devon Rex breeds are particularly affectionate, while some Persians and British Shorthairs may be less affectionate.

As we continue studying and learning from these fascinating creatures, we encourage cat owners to observe and reflect on their experiences. Do you see signs of a favorite person in your cat's behavior? What might your observations tell us about the emotional lives of cats?

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