Cats are the masters of getting what they want, a skill they often master from an early age. From the time that cats are just wee kittens, if they share their life with humans, they discover quickly that with each purrfect little meow, their human will give in to their needs, wants, and desires. So, this begs the question, “Do cats train humans?” It should come as no surprise that the answer is indeed yes. The thing is, each cat has a unique way of training their human to their liking. Here’s how they do it.
Cats train humans from a young age
Kittens are irresistibly adorable, but they’re also quite clever, too. Cats will do as they please, but when it comes to their humans, they often like to run a tight ship. Cats are micromanagers by nature, and you are by far the most important thing in their life to micromanage.
From kittenhood, cats understand that humans will quickly give in to their demands thanks to those mighty meows. But there’s more to it than just that. Kittens learn quickly from positive associations. For example: if they meow next to their empty food bowl and you fill it in return, their brain suddenly signals that this reward is met. This is often why cats will even follow their owners into the kitchen. Cats are not dummies, they know there’s food in there!
We know that cats like affection on their terms, but pretty much all cats are fans of attention—especially when they want it right meow! When cats train humans to give them attention, they do so by training you to give them affection on command when they want. Which, more times than not, is when you’re in the middle of something, like a phone call, working on the computer, or trying to go to bed. Cats want what they want precisely when they want it, and they do not concern themselves with your priorities because they don’t understand what those are. Our time with cats is limited since their lifespan pales in comparison to ours, so oblige them with pets and kitty kisses on the forehead just like they’ve trained you for. Even when they pester you, know that they’re doing so out of love and the connection they feel to you.
Cats train humans based on their personal preferences
Your cat is truly an individual. As any cat person knows, cats from the same litter can even have polar opposite personalities and preferences. When you cohabitate with a cat you quickly discover their quirks, characteristics, and unique preferences. For example, if your cat prefers the freshest water, they might follow you to the bathroom so that you can turn on the faucet for them. This is a common cat behavior behavior because many cats are naturally fascinated with running water. Additionally, their wild cat lineage tells them that stagnant water in their bowl isn’t at its freshest. (If this is the case in your home, simply invest in a cat water fountain!) Cat going outside of the litter box? Welp, they might be doing that because their litter is not to their standards and this is their way of showing you! Cats are good at “training” you to best understand their preferences, and those are just a few of the ways that they do it.
Your cat will often choose their favorite person in the home because that’s who they’ve trained best
Cats are picky little things but it’s one of their many charms. And when a cat has “picked” you as theirs, it can be a very fulfilling experience. What you might not realize, though, is that oftentimes your cat has chosen you because they’ve trained you best! Yes, that’s right. Your cat chose you because you give in to their demands‚ but it’s a mutually beneficial and lasting relationship that creates quality rewards for both parties involved.
The same can be said for cats who love wet food, which isn’t all cats but certainly most. If your cat knows you’ve got the good stuff they might even go as far as to protest when you fill their food bowl with dry cat kibble. The smartest of felines will even hold out on eating not only hoping that they’ll get the good stuff, but knowing that you’ll give in—because they’ve trained you to do so!
Even though cats train humans, there have been studies showing that we have a significant influence on our cats as well. Our cats will often mimic our actions and behaviors, and the more time you share with your cat, the more you will see just how similar the two of you have become!
Relationships with cats, like humans, can sometimes equal give and take
You are a special person in your cat’s life. There’s no doubt about that. Cats are opportunistic by nature—as our dogs—and when an opportunity presents itself, cats are quick to jump on it. This can also be true when it comes to their interactions with you. Your cat’s sense of time is different from yours, but your cat is well aware of routine actions in your home that you’ve shown them. Such as feeding, bedtime, etc. Cats will serve as your alarm clock because they know it’s time to eat. Many cats will wait for their humans to go to bed, too.
When it comes to the relationship that you have with your cat, if you were to think about it, your cat likely takes from you more than they give to you. But that’s because we are their caretakers and the return of love and companionship makes it all worth it. So this is a giving relationship we can learn to live with quickly.
Cats are naturally territorial, and some can quickly become possessive of their people. Think about it. Your cat has worked hard to train you to do as they please, so they might become defensive if something should risk this at times one-sided relationship. It’s why cats are sometimes not fans of new pets or people in their homes. They like how they’ve trained you, and they don’t want anything or anyone coming in and wrecking their hard work.