As National Cat Day falls upon us, the singles of the nation should ask the question: Are your cat-collecting ways keeping you from love?
It turns out it’s not the cats' fault, but it’s not your fault either. It’s probably the person you’ve brought home, according to a PhD student studying animal behavior at CUNY.
“When you live with a companion animal you're doing it because you essentially want a relationship and usually you do have a very specific relationship with that animal,” said Julie Hecht. “When somebody else new comes into the environment like your house or your life, it can be hard depending on the nature of your relationship [with your pet].”
Hecht explained that often, those who are newly introduced to people’s companion animals, like cats, try and mimic the behavior the owner has with that pet. What people don’t understand is that the animal and their owner have sets of behaviors and intimacy built upon what can sometimes be a longterm relationship.
In a way it can be like trying to jump into a polyamorous relationship.
“Your words, not mine” Hecht laughed. “Essentially you shouldn't just make assumptions about who the [pet] is. You should take time and [get to know the pet] for whom the [pet] is and also not make judgements about who the [pet] is with the owner.”
Would it make it all easier to just date people who like cats?
“No,” Hecht declared. “I think on both ends, if you have an animal lover and somebody that maybe wants to proclaim they don't love dogs or doesn't like cats, if you're patient with each other something entirely different can develop."
So keep in mind, when you’re introducing a new date to your cat companion, that you’re essentially introducing a stranger to your very, very close friend who happens to be a cat.
Hecht recommends that you give the cat space to approach your date and to not rush anything. Remember to give your cat a choice in interacting with your adult slumber party buddy. It may take some time, but like with any relationship it may blossom into something quite lovely that even your cat would approve of.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely@mattlee2669.