Cats… Social or Not?

Mindy Cat Pic

Cats continue to be viewed as lacking certain social attributes and having low cognitive abilities when it comes to learning.  This is a longstanding misconception, due in part to years of minimal research on cat behavior.  This has led to a serious void in understanding the social aspects cat behavior.  While their behavior may show tendencies toward independence, it should not be assumed that cats are therefore less social than dogs.  When society continues to describe cats as less social, cats get the short end of the stick, often ending up in less than enriching environments.  So we get excited when research shows the opposite.

Recently, Oregon University researchers Kristyn R. Vitale Shrevea, Lindsay R. Mehrkamb, Monique A. R. Udella used a preference assessment with 50 cats from pet homes and from shelters. The scientists examined what happened when cats were given a choice of food, toys, scent, and social interaction with humans.

While there was individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the most-preferred stimulus category for the majority of cats, followed by food.  It is encouraging to know that an cat cognition research is beginning to provide some evidence of the complex problem solving abilities of cats.  We look forward to bringing you more eye-opening and relevant feline studies.


Vitale Shrevea, Kristyn R., Mehrkamb, Lindsay R., Udella, Monique A.R., Social interaction, food, scent or toys? A formal assessment of domestic pet and shelter cat (Felis silvestris catus) preferences Behavioural Processes, Volume 141, Part 3, August 2017, pages 322-328.