Cats Actually Love People Who Aren’t ‘Cat People’

Brace yourselves, cat parents.

As it turns out, “he’s just not that into you” is OK if you’re a cat. In fact, it’s better that way.

A new study has confirmed something you may have always known to be true, but never wanted to admit — cats actually enjoy being around humans who don’t identify as “cat people.” The study found that when cats are around people who simply tolerate them, they’re actually given the control and independence they love. Meanwhile, some cat lovers can be too clingy with their cats, holding them in areas they don’t like, simply because they can’t help showing their love for their feline friends.

Yep, we know this may be a lot to take in, cat parents.

Animal behavior scientists at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham surveyed 120 people and measured the interactions between each cat and human, assessing how comfortable the cat was, how the person behaved and which behaviors the cats liked the most.

In a nutshell, scientists found that people who lived (or had lived) with cats were prone to fussing over and holding their cats more than the cats liked, older people tried to grab and restrain the cats more than younger people, and extroverts tended to initiate contact, which cats, known for their independence, aren’t that into.

Instead, cats gravitated towards the participants who paid them “passive” attention and offered “minimal touching.” Researchers also noticed cats stuck around those who stroked the cats at the base of the ears and under the chin, versus areas where cats don’t like to be touched, like the base of their tail and their stomach.

So, maybe that’s the biggest takeaway here — it’s not that your cat doesn’t love you, it’s that perhaps he just needs his space. When it comes to affection, he prefers it on his own terms (but a nice scratch under the chin never hurts).