The Special Bond Between Women and Cats

Updated: June 22, 2016
Published: March 07, 2011
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The crazy cat lady. I’ve always hated that stereotype, and not because I’m at risk of being considered one myself. Truth be told, my husband is the bigger feline fanatic in our house. I just really dislike the way the portrayal demeans both parties in the relationship. As if cats can only be loved by someone who has a screw loose.

But, as is the case with many clichés, it turns out there is a kernel of truth to this one. A study due to be published in the journal Behavioural Processes reveals the special relationship that can develop between a woman and her cat.

As reported by Discovery News:

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats… more than men do.

"In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners," co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that "female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners."

The study, which looked at how 41 cats and their owners interacted, also showed that cats remember when they are treated kindly and this directly affects how they react to their owners’ wishes. Cats were more likely to respond to their owner’s request for affection when that person had taken care of their needs in the past. Isn’t this the type of mutual regard that is at the heart of any friendship?

All of this give and take is how people and pets become so attached to one another over time. At the end of her excellent blog about old-school versus modern veterinary medicine, Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll brought up a question that she’s been tempted to ask clients. "Do you want this pet or a pet?"

I think this study reveals why so many of us are willing to go so far for our cats. It’s because we want this pet, our friend, in our lives for as long as possible.

Dr. Jennifer Coates