Ask A Vet: Why Does My Cat Seem Drawn to “Non-Cat People”?

Everyone has that one friend. You know, the one that hates cats or is allergic to them?

Cat lovers usually don’t have many friends like that. We feline aficionados usually choose friends who understand us and share our opinions. But there may have been an occasion when someone who was indifferent to cats needed to be in your home. What did your cat do?

Sometimes when “non-cat people” enter the scene, it almost seems like cats are drawn to them. Cats seem intrigued by these people and interested in what they do, but often will turn away or hide from those that love cats and initiate interaction. Furthermore, if you insist on interacting with your cat when he does not want the interaction, he will often turn away, flick his tail or even disappear completely. (If you don’t believe me, turn to your cat with a purpose, like you need to give him a medication or apply his flea prevention. Did he stand there and let you or did you have to hold or distract him? Yea, me too.)

Cats tend to be independent and solitary because of their evolution and where they came from.  Today’s domestic cat is very similar genetically to his ancestors and early cats were solitary hunters who were also preyed upon themselves. They had to think for themselves and did not depend on the herd for survival, so they developed wariness as a survival instinct. My cat watches what my body language tells him. If I seem intensely focused on him, he feels vulnerable, like he would if a predator was sizing him up as prey and his impulse is to resist.

I know this tendency of cats so I usually let my own cat initiate interaction with me. Because I don’t force things with my cat as a rule, when I do call him to come, he usually will.  I try to read his body language and react accordingly when he seems uninterested.  Those non-cat people that we started with seem very non-threatening to cats because they will avert their gaze and turn their bodies away and then your cat’s vulnerability is outweighed by his curiosity.

Maybe if your non-cat friend really wants your cat to ignore him, he needs to act interested in your cat first. Feline nature may make your cat retreat, but then again…cats do tend to keep us guessing!

Want to learn more about winning (or losing) a feline’s affections? Read why cats may prefer humans who play “hard to get.”

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