Are cats jerks? While the internet is obsessed with cats, and likely always will be, the little fuzzballs can feel aloof or distant unless they want something out of you (possibly an escape from another cat’s noxious fart). But that something, more often than not, appears to be affection, according to a new study.
Researchers at Oregon State University, who published the study late last week, were essentially batting clean-up; scientists had run cognitive tests on what animals value on dogs and tortoises, but no one had taken the time to run the same tests on our feline companions, so researchers had to step in.
The test was pretty basic: The people running the study got both shelter cats and adopted cats, left them without food, toys, or humans for a few hours, and then reintroduced each. The surprising results? Half the cats went straight for the human when they came back into the room. And these weren’t just cats who already had families. Both cats living in forever homes and those still waiting to be adopted made beelines for people rather than settling for a few bites of Fancy Feast. You may not want to get too excited — 37 percent of cats went for the food first, after all — but this is a nice reminder that cats really do care about us. They like us! They really like us!
It’s an interesting result not least because it challenges a lot of stereotypes about cats, who (we joke) tend to view us as staff. But this study raises some important questions: If cats really do love us, why can they never stop trashing the house? Can we train them to be polite? Or, at the very least, can we teach them to trash the stuff of that guy in our complex blasting Maroon 5 instead? He deserves it, okay?