Why Do Cats Like Some Humans But Not Others?

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on December 15, 2017

Cats have a reputation for being picky about the people they choose to be around. When you finally win a finicky feline’s affection, it’s a great feeling. Family members compete to be number one in a cat’s heart, but not everyone ends up with the prized position.

The person who feeds them and cleans out their litter isn’t always the one who the cat prefers. It can seem unfair, but for your cat, bonding with humans is about more than meeting basic needs. They’re independent animals and don’t necessarily need a human to take care of them. When they choose their favorite people, they’re thinking about more than where they’re getting their next meal.

Personal Space

One second they want you to scratch behind their ears, and the next, they’re swatting your hand away in annoyance. Cats are known for being moody, and they want what they want only when they want it. In most cases, the person who can best interpret those mood swings is also the person to win the cat’s heart. Cats won’t take kindly to someone backing them into a corner or petting them when they’re not in the mood for interaction.

You’ll have a better chance of forming a good relationship with your cat if you let them stay in control. Cats like people who respect their space. If someone does that, the cat will learn to appreciate their restraint. They’ll reward them with attention later on when their mood changes.


Like people, cats have personalities all their own. Some are always up to wrestle, and others are comfortable only when it’s quiet. Regardless of what they’re like, cats choose their friends based on who best matches their own personalities.

Cats have great observation skills, and they know who in the family is fun, who is quiet, who is boring, and who is loud and intimidating. They’ll gravitate toward the person that behaves similarly to themselves, and they’ll act more standoffish toward everyone else.


If your cat is a rescue and you’re having trouble bonding, there might be something from their past getting in the way. They could have had a bad experience with a person of your same gender, height, age, or hair color. You could do everything right, but it’ll be hard to separate you from the untrustworthy person in their past.

The same concept applies if you’ve ever done something your cat didn’t like. Step on their tail one too many times, treat them roughly, or force them into a hug they don’t want, and your cat will remember. Cats pick their favorite people based on who they can trust. If you’re left out in the cold, it could be because your actions have proved unpredictable in the past.


Many cat behaviorists say there are certain breeds that only have room in their hearts for one person. Experts say Bengals, Himalayan, Siamese, and Norwegian Forest Cats are examples of one-person cats. Once they find a person they like, they’re not interested in bonding with anyone else.

Of course, all cats—regardless of breed—are individuals. Mixed breed cats are just as likely to play favorites as their purebred cousins. It’s more a state of mind where the cat is satisfied with a certain amount of interaction and doesn’t feel the need to seek other relationships.

Not being your cat’s number one pick can be frustrating, but just because you’re not first in their heart doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. They might pick someone else’s lap over yours and react differently when you initiate playtime, but you represent a vital role in their family dynamic. Try being more relaxed about earning their attention, and they might even have a change of heart.

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