Why Do Cats Get Attached to One Person? (Playing Favorites)

Updated: August 29, 2023


Certain animals exhibit a remarkable penchant for wholeheartedly embracing every human encounter. Visualize the exuberant dog in the park, ceaselessly craving attention from those who stroll by, perpetually prepared with an affectionate slurp and an inviting paw to shake hands with. In stark contrast, consider the discerning nature of cats, who appear to uphold considerably more discerning criteria when granting individuals the privilege of engagement. Even if a cat permits unfamiliar hands to stroke its fur or dangle an enticing toy within its vicinity, odds are that a singular person reigns supreme in its preferences.

Within a feline’s hierarchy of favored individuals lies an array of exclusive privileges: the liberty to bestow belly rubs or scoop the cat into one’s arms, the constant companionship of the cat settled in their lap or stationed at the foot of their bed as night descends, and the privilege of being welcomed home with tender strokes and melodious meows. For those who fall outside this coveted circle, the apparent favoritism might instill a minor sting, triggering contemplation over actions that might have led to the cat’s apparent aversion.

The conduct of cats is intricate, particularly concerning their attachment mechanisms and manifestations of fondness. Unraveling the enigma of why cats frequently form strong bonds with just one person demands a voyage into the labyrinth of feline psychology and cognitive processes. Let us delve into the psyche of the domesticated feline, unveiling the intricate details of the feline-human rapport.

Setting Standards: What Cats Want from Humans

With Time Comes Trust

Cats generally exhibit a preference for a gradual pace when it comes to building connections. Hasty approaches often lead to unfavorable outcomes, as newcomers in a cat’s world bear the weight of establishing their credibility. The foremost query on a cat’s mind is whether its boundaries will be honored, making this the initial point of concern.

Hence, initiating contact by refraining from immediate attempts to pick up the cat or launch into a belly rub is crucial. Allowing the cat to initiate interaction on its own terms serves as an effective first stride toward cultivating trust.

However, even with the passage of time and the allowance of personal space, certain cats may perpetually harbor distrust towards specific individuals, impeding the possibility of evolving into bosom companions. Cats that have experienced neglect or mistreatment in their pasts might harbor reservations towards individuals reminiscent of their challenging histories. For instance, a cat that underwent mistreatment by a man might exhibit avoidance of men, while a cat previously injured by rough play from a child might remain wary of all children.

Even without a history of maltreatment, cats inherently possess a skittish disposition, and the antidote to this wariness lies in providing a sense of security. Consistently maintaining a calm demeanor, adhering to a steady routine, and employing a gentle approach significantly contribute to establishing an atmosphere of stability. When a cat feels secure and at ease in its surroundings, it becomes more predisposed to forming connections with humans. Invariably, the individual who is accessible (without being overbearing) during the cat’s period of adjustment tends to garner the cat’s preference due to the established sense of security.

Food: The Ultimate Motivator

A cat’s heart is often won over by the swiftest route – the path that winds through its stomach. It’s highly probable that the favored individual in a cat’s realm is the one who bestows sustenance most frequently. The connection established between delectable nourishment and the benefactor responsible for its provision is so potent that the cat becomes inexorably drawn to its culinary maestro, whether in eager anticipation of further edibles or as an expression of genuine appreciation.

Yet, the significance of this connection goes beyond mere satiety. A consistent supply of nourishment communicates to the cat that the provider is reliable and dependable. Cats thrive on routine, deriving immense solace from the knowledge that they can rely on a steadfast source of consistency. Should you demonstrate yourself to be that dependable figure, you will swiftly ascend to the pinnacle of your cat’s list of preferred individuals.

The Cat Whisperers

Effective communication stands as a cornerstone in all relationships, and this truth holds equally true for our feline companions. In deciphering the feline language, one need not resort to meows and purrs – the realm of body language holds remarkable sway. Frequently, it’s the person who grasps these nonverbal cues most adeptly that forges the strongest connection with a cat.

In direct contrast, employing loud tones, rapid advances, or looming postures serves as a guaranteed strategy to obstruct the formation of a genuine bond. If we envision this scenario from the cat’s perspective, the distress of encountering an imposing, vociferous stranger suddenly cornering it and making a grab becomes all too clear.

You don’t require the credentials of a feline behaviorist to foster effective communication with a cat. By positioning yourself at eye level with the cat and maintaining a respectful distance, you effectively transcend the barriers of inter-species interaction. Allowing the cat to approach on its terms further solidifies this connection. In addition, employing a soft, soothing tone while closing your eyes establishes an atmosphere of security. This gesture is particularly meaningful, as cats rarely shut their eyes unless they feel at ease. In this manner, you lead by example, demonstrating the trust and comfort you aim to engender.

Diverse Personalities: No Two Cats Are the Same

First Come First Served

The majority of cats tend to exhibit a reserved demeanor and a discerning approach toward selecting their human confidants. Cultivating a sense of reliance demands a patient investment of time, and even after this foundation is established, it remains evident that the cat maintains a preference for another individual.

For these felines, the pursuit of a solitary, cherished friendship outweighs the appeal of numerous fleeting connections. Ascending to the esteemed status of a “bestie” necessitates a substantial commitment of time and energy on the human’s part. Only those who possess the qualities of exceptional companionship can appease the refined tastes of these feline aficionados.

In many instances, the cat ultimately forms a profound bond with the first individual who dedicates the requisite time and effort to cultivating trust and addressing its fundamental needs – sustenance, personal space, and attentive care. Once this connection is forged, the cat rarely feels compelled to exert energy into fostering relationships with other people. The initial attachment proves to be so potent that it sufficiently fulfills the cat’s longing for human companionship.

You’re All I Need

When a cat forms a deep attachment with an individual, the world can appear to narrow down to just those two souls. The feline may dedicate its days stationed by the door, eagerly anticipating the return of its dearest companion, paying little heed to other beings, human or animal. Occasionally, signs of unease might surface, manifested through plaintive cries, restive pacing, and occasional acts of destruction.

However, as soon as the cherished human steps back into the picture, an astonishing metamorphosis unfolds. The once-serene cat suddenly brims with vitality, engaging in playful antics, vocalizing with melodic meows, and lavishing the person with affectionate gestures of rubs and nuzzles.

In this particular aspect, cats remarkably mirror the behavior of human children, who frequently manifest parallel forms of attachment toward their parents. Just as children may foster friendships at school and maintain fondness for relatives, the central figures of importance remain Mom and Dad – figures of reliability, care, and unwavering trust. Similarly, the person a cat bonds with assumes this role of paramount significance.

From the feline’s perspective, this chosen individual embodies qualities of dependability, nurturing, and steadfastness. This parallel, akin to human parent-child relationships, is formed with enduring strength. Once this connection is established, breaking its hold becomes an arduous endeavor, reminiscent of the tenacity inherent in human parent-child bonds.

Exceptions to the Rule

Certainly, not all cats exhibit a predilection for playing favorites. Some felines exude an innate trust in new acquaintances right from the start, displaying such eagerness for treats and affectionate head rubs that the stranger might be misconstrued as a lifelong companion. For these sociable creatures, the intricate process of forming bonds appears almost effortless; they extend camaraderie to everyone until evidence suggests an alternative stance.

Distinct feline breeds exhibit varying inclinations when it comes to forging connections with humans. British Shorthairs, Burmese, Ragdolls, and Maine Coons, for instance, are recognized for their affable nature and capacity to form strong attachments to multiple individuals, rather than bestowing favoritism upon a sole figure.

Conversely, certain breeds consistently gravitate toward forming an exclusive bond with just one person, exhibiting minimal interest in acquainting themselves with others. Notable among these breeds are Himalayans, Siamese, Russian Blues, and Norwegian Forest Cats.

Need Cat Sitting?

If you’re in need of cat sitting services, it’s important to find a reliable and trustworthy option to ensure the well-being of your feline companion while you’re away. Here are some steps you can take to find the right cat sitting service:

  1. Research Local Services: Look for cat sitting services in your local area. You can search online, ask for recommendations from friends or neighbors, or check with local pet stores or veterinary clinics for referrals.

  2. Read Reviews: Once you’ve identified potential cat sitting services, read reviews from other pet owners who have used their services. This can provide valuable insights into the quality of care they provide.

  3. Check Qualifications: Ensure that the cat sitters are experienced and knowledgeable about cat care. They should be comfortable handling cats, administering any necessary medications, and dealing with potential emergencies.

  4. Meet and Greet: Schedule a meeting with the cat sitter before making a decision. This will give you a chance to introduce them to your cat and see how they interact. It’s also an opportunity to discuss your cat’s routines, dietary needs, and any special instructions.

  5. Ask Questions: During the meeting, ask the cat sitter about their experience, how they handle different situations, and what their typical cat sitting routine involves. Make sure they are willing to accommodate any specific requirements your cat may have.

  6. Insurance and Bonding: Inquire about the cat sitting service’s insurance and bonding. This provides added protection in case of accidents or incidents while the cat sitter is taking care of your pet.

  7. Communication: Clear communication is crucial. Make sure the cat sitter is comfortable providing updates and sending photos of your cat while you’re away. This can provide peace of mind and keep you connected with your pet.

  8. Trial Run: If possible, consider starting with a shorter cat sitting assignment before committing to a longer period. This will give you a chance to assess how well the cat sitter and your cat get along.

  9. References: Don’t hesitate to ask for references from other clients who have used their services. This can give you a better understanding of their reliability and professionalism.

  10. Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, go with your gut feeling. Choose a cat sitting service that you feel comfortable and confident in entrusting the care of your beloved feline friend.

Why do some animals seem to be more affectionate towards humans than others?

Some animals, like dogs, have been bred over generations to be more social and affectionate towards humans. This is due to domestication and selective breeding for traits that enhance companionship and cooperation.

Why are cats often more selective in their interactions with humans?

Cats have retained more of their independent and solitary nature from their wild ancestors. They tend to form strong attachments with individuals they trust and who respect their boundaries.

What makes a person a cat’s favorite human?

A cat’s favorite person usually provides consistent care, attention, and respect for the cat’s preferences. Offering physical affection, comfortable spaces, and engaging playtime can contribute to this favored status.

Why might a cat’s favoritism cause feelings of hurt in other individuals?

People often form emotional bonds with pets and desire their affection in return. When a cat shows favoritism, it can lead to feelings of rejection or inadequacy in individuals who are not the chosen favorite.

Is it possible to improve a cat’s relationship with individuals it seems to dislike?

Yes, building trust with a cat takes time and patience. Providing treats, engaging in non-threatening play, and allowing the cat to approach on its terms can help foster a more positive relationship.

What are some signs that a cat is forming a strong bond with a person?

Signs of a strong cat-human bond include seeking physical closeness, following the person around, purring, kneading, and slow blinking—often referred to as a “cat kiss.”


The intricate world of feline-human bonding unveils a captivating narrative of attachment, trust, and unique connections. As we observe the contrasting affections displayed by different animals, such as the exuberant openness of dogs and the discerning selectivity of cats, we gain insights into the complex interplay between domestication, evolution, and individual personality traits.

Cats, with their enigmatic behaviors and multifaceted personalities, often bestow their affection on a single individual, creating a bond that is marked by exclusive privileges and intimate interactions. This favored human is granted the cherished role of a trusted companion, rewarded with the gentle nuzzles, content purrs, and silent gestures of affection that characterize the feline language of attachment.

The emotions evoked by a cat’s favoritism, whether of happiness or mild hurt, remind us of the meaningful connections we form with our animal companions. Just as humans seek companionship and emotional support, cats too forge relationships rooted in trust and security. Understanding their psychology allows us to navigate their world with sensitivity, respecting their boundaries and nurturing the deep bonds that can develop over time.

Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

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