Because they're so easy to take care of, more and more people are beginning to see the value of cats as pets - in fact, cats are now believed to outnumber dogs as pets. Because of this growing interest, scientists and animal behaviorists have cranked up their research on the household cat. What they're finding is that a friendly cat is made - not born.
In other words, a cat that is petted, talked to and handled a lot as a kitten (particularly between the age of 2 and 7 weeks, a critical stage of development) is more likely to become affectionate toward humans. But, even with proper handling (socialization, it's called), researchers have divided cats into three different personality types.
The first one is the sociable cat with a naturally easygoing and trusting temperament (the kind cat lovers always point to). The second is the timid, shy and nervous feline (the ones to which cat haters refer). And the third is the active and aggressive cat (the cat nobody's comfortable around). But no matter what personality type, aren't cats, in general, pretty sneaky creatures?
When people say cats are sneaky, they're forgetting the fact they are genetically programmed to be predators. It's instinctive behavior - they're carnivores, descended from the lion. They're not being sneaky with some great plan in mind. They're just being cats.
And what about the claim that they're too independent - that they really don't need human companionship? Cat behavior is really difficult to discuss because they are so complex. But they are incredibly sensitive to their surroundings - they become very, very involved with their owners. We've seen cats go into mourning when their owner dies. And they definitely can sense and react to someone who doesn't like them.
Take that, cat haters.