We can’t help but be noticed: we love our cats. They are irresistible to us, they awaken in us intense emotions. And they also make us laugh a lot! Science has been concerned with revealing the secrets used by our most purring friends to persuade us and to make us love them so much. And the love between cats and humans has a double meaning, a reciprocated love: because yes, Our cats love us too, and a lot!
Cats make us laugh and they are the kings of the Internet!
We love our cats, and we love them. If not, just ask the Internet, where felines seem to be responsible for no less than 15% of global digital traffic, according to a study by Friskies. And although, according to New York Timesthe data could be somewhat swollen, it is still a suggestive urban legend.
So suggestive that scientists have wanted to better understand this cat love and have carried out various experiments to understand why we cannot help but love our cats: why we find them adorable and irresistible.
Why do we love cats? the power of adorable
To better understand it, researchers such as the Japanese Hiroshi Nittono, from the University of Hiroshima, have shown us, in studies, pictures of kittens. And we have been asked (a representative sample) how we feel while looking at them.
Well, it turns out that looking at photos of kittens can provoke the same reactions that we get when we look at images of human babies. There is something else: looking at photos of cats, and puppies, seems to have the power to make us behave more carefully.
It helps us to relax; and, attention! also to concentrate and solve cognitive tasks more successfully, such as solving a puzzle. And it may seem unlikely to us: but according to an experiment conducted by the English anthropozoologist John Bradshaw, two out of three people were better at solving mind games and puzzles after seeing pictures of kittens.
The reason: having them in front of us makes us pay attention to them and seems to activate in our brains the necessary mechanisms to concentrate and act more carefully; just what we need to take care of a baby. But, also, to solve puzzles or games of mental acuity.
We already knew: looking at images of human babies makes us focus our attention more. And this “power of lovability,” as scientists have already dubbed it, seems to extend to the babies of other animals; including cats. And also dogs, elephants, otters, bears, sheep and small calves.
Those cat faces: big and irresistible eyes
We also know that our feline faces mimic, or appear to share features, that human babies possess. Among them, the fact of having relatively large eyes in a relatively small and rounded face.
In fact, cat eyes are very similar in size to our human eyes. Even though their heads are clearly much smaller than ours! This trait helps them, for example, to see better in the dark.
These large eyes allow our cats to capture more light in unfavorable conditions, and in less time, which is a great help for them to see clearly in low light conditions, where we do not see anything.
And, what matters to us here: our brain cannot help but react with affection when we see them. It cannot avoid that almost primitive response in our subconscious that awakens in us the natural instinct to love cats, to try to make them happy, to want to take care of them.
Cats and humans: horizontal love
There is more: the meow of cats, a vocalization that adults reserve to speak or communicate with us, their humans, is a high-pitched meow, which shares frequencies with the cry of the human baby. Which, again, as feline behavior experts know, makes them irresistible to so many of us.
And we also like cats for their mysterious personalities, as I hear almost daily on the feline behavior consultation. They are certainly not as brazen as their fellow dogs when it comes to expressing their love. With cats, we have to work more on their love, and there are many of us who definitely appreciate it.
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