We live in a household with several people and multiple cats. Over time we’ve noticed that each of our cats prefer to spend time with different family members. The funny thing is that we all have different personalities and our cats seem to have chosen their favorite family members for that reason.
But how do cats pick their favorite person?
Cats often pick a favorite person in a household. This behavior originated from their first exposure to humans and has roots in a cat’s survival instincts. How cats select their favorite person can vary, but it is based on how it can benefit their chances of survival. Common reasons can be for food, protection, safety, or other criteria.
There are specific things that can help you to be your cat’s favorite person. We’ll look at it in detail but it boils down to these points:
- Create a bond
- Be the one to feed your cat
- Spend time playing with them
- Clean their belongings, care for their environment
- Use positive reinforcement
- Sleep with your cat
- Learn their language
Do cats have a favorite person?
For some people, cats can sometimes seem like aloof and uncaring animals, but the truth is that cats can form powerful bonds with people, and they highly value social interaction. Cats show love and often choose individual humans as their favorite.
This means that if you live alone with your cat, you can be completely sure that your cat sees you as their number one.
But if you share your home with several people, your cat will likely choose one or two family members as their favorite.
They’ll most likely go for the person who feeds them, takes care of them, or plays with them the most. But since every cat is different, the reasons behind their preference can vary.
It’s even common knowledge that some cats tend to choose the person who pays the least attention to them. It’s a running joke that cats often prefer that one person who doesn’t like cats. If that’s the case, your kitty might enjoy the peace and quiet more than hugs and kisses.
Why do cats pick their favorites?
Understanding why cats pick humans helps to look at how their domestication started around 12,000 years ago.
That’s when cats started to live with humans because they realized that humans were a reliable source of food, a warm place to sleep, and protection from their natural predators.
As human societies started practicing agriculture and kept their surplus stored, mice and small mammals started to proliferate around them. A lot of mice meant fresh food for wild cats at that time.
Humans probably kept cats around to control pests, and over time, cats started looking for humans for food, protection, and a safe place to live.
Opposite to dogs, which were domesticated by man for their usefulness, cats domesticated themselves to increase their chances of survival. They chose to be close to humans because it gave them easy access to food and protection.
The reason why cats pick a favorite person is that it can improve their chances of survival. There are several considerations that cats take into account. Their choice can be based on food, protection, safety, or comfort.
Modern cats, living in a safe home with a loving family don’t need to choose. They will have plenty of food, love and comfort to go around.
However, despite years of exposure to humans, modern cats are still like their ancestors and possess many old instincts handed down over generations. One of those instincts is to select companions who can make their lives easier and increase their chances of survival.
How do cats pick their favorite human?
There are a couple of factors to take into account when trying to understand when and how cats choose their favorite person.
So, what to look out for? There are three key factors that play a role in the selection process; early bonding, personality, and communication.
Start to bond early
Between the fourth and ninth weeks of a cat’s life, they undergo a period of socialization. They are very receptive to human interaction, new sounds, scents, and playtime during this period.
Once the mother distances herself from the kitten, it’s most likely that the kitten will start looking for a new mother figure and adopt one of its owners as its caretaker. Providing it with a feeling of safety is essential at this stage.
At this point, a kitty will be more likely to form a bond with the people closest to it.
This is just one factor that determines a cat’s fondness. For example, some cats may feel comfortable around one particular person and fear the presence of other humans.
The opposite can also be true; some cats don’t show a particular preference or only start showing particular signs of affection at a later age, for example, after adoption.
It’s a matter of personality
Another important factor to consider is your kitty’s personality. Any cat owner will know that no two cat’s personalities are the same.
Some cats are playful; some like to eat a lot, some prefer to be alone, some like to sneak out of the house to explore, and others tend to feel anxious all the time.
As we mentioned earlier, cats tend to choose their favorite person based on qualities they are looking for in a companion or ‘mother figure’.
Why is personality a factor in why cats choose their favorite person? Simple, they look for someone to complement their personality quirks.
When choosing their favorite person, personality is a key factor for cats. An anxious cat will most likely prefer the quietest person in the house. On the other hand, an explorer kitty will probably look to satisfy its curiosity and likely grow to be closer with a person who’s always busy with something, whereas a playful cat will look for physical interaction with humans.
Understand your cat’s language
Believe it or not, although it often doesn’t seem like it, cats regularly communicate with the people around them. They do it for various reasons, ask for food, say they’re annoyed, or show interest in something.
Apart from the well-known and standard ‘meow’, cats have an array of different ways to communicate with their owners.
They meow, chirp, trill, purr, chatter, call, growl, snarl, hiss, howl, yowl, moan, and several vocalizations. Apart from sounds, cats are masters of non-verbal communication such as touching, looking at you in a certain way, tilting their head, talk with their tail, kneading, head-butting, and so on…
Over time, cats learn what form of communication works best with their owners.
Paying attention to your cat’s preferred communication style and picking up on their subtle signs will undoubtedly bring the two of you closer together.
A good mutual understanding and regular social interaction is essential to form tight bonds.
How to become your cat’s favorite person?
Do you want to become your kitty’s favorite cat parent? Did you adopt an adult cat, and you’re looking for ways to build a loving relationship?
Here are some things you can do right now to start building that mutual understanding.
- Create a bond from a young age: Kittens are more susceptible to forming bonds with humans, but even with older cats, it is possible. Start early and be consistent.
- Feed them: Remember, cats started to live with humans because we’re a reliable food source. Be the one who feeds the cat consistently every day, and your cat will likely take a liking to you.
- Time: To truly want to form a bond with a cat, giving them time and personal space is essential, just like with humans. Cats love their independence, so be sure to give them some time alone and read the signs when they are in the mood to play or when they prefer to be alone instead.
- Play with them: If a cat shows a willingness to play, then there is already some form of interest. Buy them toys and regularly make time to play together.
- Clean things: Our beloved animals won’t tolerate a dirty environment. Some cats will protest, for example, by urinating around the house, break a couch, or vomit to show that they hate a filthy house. To reduce stress and improve your bond, make sure your feline companion has a clean and tidy home, a clean litter box, fresh water, and a clean place to sleep.
- Positive reinforcement: Some scientific studies show positive reinforcement and frequent affection can be very helpful in forming bonds with cats. Praise or reward your cat when doing something well instead of punishing her when she did something wrong.
- Sleep together with your cat: If you’re okay with this, let your cat sleep together with you. Sleeping together is a sign of trust and bonding for cats, and cats who sleep with their owner in bed will bond with them quicker. Please don’t force them though, let your cat take the lead.
For more reasons why sleeping together with your cat is a great idea, see my article about why your cat prefers to sleep on you.
- Learn how to communicate with your cat: Cats are different; learning how to communicate with your cat will improve your bond and trust. Trust is an essential component of a cat’s relationship with its owner.
How to communicate with your cat?
Understanding your cat’s communication is one of the essential things to get right if you want your cat to see you as a worthy companion, let alone their favorite person.
When you’re able to comprehend your cat’s (verbal and non-verbal) language and act upon their needs and wishes, then your relationship will surely improve.
Listen to the meows
Cats normally don’t meow at each other, only under particular circumstances. However, they’re more likely to meow at humans to ask for something or to protest.
Start listening to the sounds that your cat is making at you, and you’ll begin to understand what she’s trying to tell you.
Here are some common cat sounds:
- High-pitched short meow: Asking for something or in need of something. Commonly the meow is higher-pitched at the end, just like when we humans ask a question.
- Low-pitched meow: A sign of anger and/or fear
- A high-pitched long meow: This means the cat is hurt or needs help.
- If you hear a short meow, then your cat is greeting you.
- A long meow is a demand for something, almost like a child asking for candy or a treat.
- Hissing means displeasure, anger, or aggression, but it can also signify pain.
- Purring is mostly a sign of comfort, affection and it’s an invitation for you to touch and pet them. However, in some situations, cats purr when in pain to calm themselves down (this often goes together with a whipping tail).
Read your cat’s body language
Cats’ vocalizations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to communication.
They are more fluid when speaking with their body. That’s how they usually communicate with other cats but also with humans.
Here’s a quick summary to help you understand a cat’s body language signs:
- A tail that’s straight and curled up at the end means happiness; it’s usually a greeting.
- Cats can sometimes rub themselves onto objects or people. They do this to add their scent and mark territory, but it’s also a sign of affection.
- If your cat’s tail is moving from side to side, it means discomfort.
- If they roll on their back and show you their stomach, it means that they’re happy to see you, and they might just be asking you for a belly rub.
- Crouching means that they’re alert and ready to run from something. This can be a sign of fear but also when playing or enacting the hunt.
- A stressed cat will hide, flatten its body on the floor, flatten its ears or hide in high places or under furniture.
- Cats will move their ears when they notice an unusual sound or when listening to your voice.
- A head-butt or a kiss with the tip of the nose is a clear sign of affection.
- When your cats looks at you and slowly blinks both eyes at you, it means they’re showing attention; answer them by slow-blinking back at her.
- A long stare into your eyes means trust.
- Licking you is a strong indicator of love, almost like a mother licking their kittens.
Now that you can recognize some important cat communications, you can respond to your cat. Here are some ground rules:
- When she greets you, rub her head.
- When she’s angry or stressed, leave her alone. If it’s possible to remove the source of the stress, that’s even better.
- Do the slow blink at her! Cats understand and respond to this.
- Many cats don’t like hugs and kisses (see here why not); try it and see how your cat responds to this and respect their decision.
- Try not to hiss at your cat when it does something wrong (see my article here about why that does not work). It’s better to respond with a clear “NO” and teach her to change her behavior.
How to tell that your cat has bonded with you?
If you want to know whether your cat has a bond with you or not, pay attention to any signs of trust and strong affection, like constant purring, following you around the house, rubbing their body on you (and your stuff), licking you and just sleeping around means that they trust you.
Cats are often very subtle when it comes to showing affection.
However, once you learn to recognize their signs, you can begin to have an intimate relationship with your cat.
Maybe you can even become your cat’s favorite human if you’re patient enough.
Just remember not to hurry things and let them take the first step. After all, remember that cats are always the ones who have the last word.
To discover 15 ways that cats show their affection for humans, have a look at this article.