It's human nature to be rather fond of our pets. At National Geographic, Virginia Hughes explains that her feelings of maternal attachment toward her dog are scientifically supported, at least in the way both young children and dogs seem to stimulate human brains.
But whether you think of your pet as a furbaby, or loathe the phrase "pet parent," treating a pet in the same way you would a little human is a mistake. Cats Protection, a British feline charity, recently polled cat owners on their knowledge of how to treat stressed-out kitties. The results, according to a press release: over half of pet owners said they would try to cuddle stressed cats, which, in general, doesn't do much to quell cat anxiety.
Likewise, more than half of owners surveyed weren't aware that multiple pets can be causes of anxiety to cats; and only a quarter recognized that excessive grooming of the same body part can also indicate distress. (The release doesn't mention the size of the survey or how cat owners were polled, however.)
"Being held or stroked for too long can be very stressful for some cats. Space and peace is often what they need - they're not small furry humans so what would comfort us won't necessarily comfort them," says Nicky Trevorrow, a cat behaviorist at Cats Protection, in a statement.
That's not to say cats can't show affection - they can. But when trying to calm cats, pet owners should follow feline rules, not human ones.