The other day, in bed with my laptop and my cat, I found myself writing this piece about what cats and introverts have in common. Yes, for reals. It’s no secret that I adore my cats, Astrid and Sofia, and I love nothing more than observing the things they get up to. It often strikes me how many similarities their kitty traits have with my introverted ways, making me feel like I can sometimes relate to them more than I can to my human peers.
Of course, this is a very tongue-in-cheek kind of post. Plus, all cats as well as introverts are different, but I thought this might bring a bit of joy to those of you with cats or introverts in your lives! I also finally have an excuse to fill a blog post with pictures of Astrid & Sofia! Win-win.
Approaching a cat or an introvert
Have you ever noticed how when a bunch of people enter a room with a cat in it, it often is the one person who dislikes cats who gets approached by said cat? Cat-challenged people quite often complain about being unreluctant cat-magnets, but there really is quite a simple explanation to this phenomena.
When you look cats straight in the eyes, especially when it’s your first meeting, the cat will interpret this as a challenging gesture that makes the situation feel like a confrontation. So, when four people enter a room, and three of them are instantly drawn towards checking out the beauty, the cat will naturally gravitate towards the least threatening person, i.e. the one who is doing everything to avoid the cat and averting their gaze.
In a similar way, when an introvert gets thrown into a situation with other people, they will naturally seek out the person who feels the least threatening, meaning they will usually spot and gravitate towards the other introvert in the room within moments, while they might need to acclimatise themselves a bit before they can even think about approaching the loudest or most confident person.
Introducing yourself to a cat or an introvert
Cats are as cute as they are fluffy, and often the first instinct a cat-loving person meeting a new cat has is putting their hand out and stroking the cat on the head. Most times this will make the cat retreat, often leave the situation completely. Not only do they not know who this person approaching them is, but also, if you lunge straight into a full on stroke, they don’t have the time to make sure you're not a threat.
When introducing yourself to a cat, always offer your hand for them to approach first. Cats make sense of the world by smell, so they will want to take a sniff of your hand first to see what you’re all about, and if they see potential, they’ll rub their face against your hand to mark you safe with their own scent. Only after this approval should you go in for a fuller stroke.
Likewise, when introducing yourself to an introvert, don’t instantly barrage them with your life story if you want them to stick around long enough to get to know them better. Start with gentle introductions and easy questions, instead of a full-on interrogation, and you will most likely be rewarded with a genuine connection that might lead into a conversation beyond just small talk.
Giving cats and introverts enough space
Cats are pretty much born to chill. They love to spend time deep in thought, or snoozing between eating, playing and contemplating the mysteries of the world. You’ll recognise a truly content cat from the way they gently nod their head while they sit, perhaps even giving you a little wink to show how happy they are. If you allow them enough chill time without over-stimulating them with constant petting or loud noises, they will be more than happy to reward you with the best snuggles and the funnest play time when it’s the right time.
Introverts also get easily over-stimulated and require plenty of alone time. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, or that they’re sulking, it’s just the way they recharge their batteries. This is especially true if they have just attended a social event. Don’t try to pressure an introvert into any high-energy activities or a deep conversation right after they’ve spent their social energy quota for the day. Once they are fully charged they will reappear and join the world again, just allow them the space they need in order to function properly.
How the environment affects cats and introverts
Cats are very territorial. They tend to find their favourite spots, and often have a specific routine for where they spend different parts of the day. If you want your cat to feel secure and happy at home, don’t change their favourite places too much. Respect that they prefer their snuggliest sleeping places or comfiest blankets for a reason. Likewise with their toys. If you switch their environment up too often it will make them feel restless. Also, cats are a little bit jumpy by nature, so always make sure they can reach their favourite places and their food without having to pass anything scary, like other animals or strange people.
Same goes for introverts. Their home environment is often one of the most important things for them, and that’s why they can be a little bit anal about how they want their home to look and feel. If you’re in a relationship with an introvert, just go with this. Honestly, would you rather have a partner who’s happy and content, than a house filled with uncomfortable furniture, mess, loud people, or whatever it may be that makes your introvert feel anxious and off-kilter.
Resolving a conflict with cats or introverts
Cats don’t understand the concept of punishment in the same way as, for example, dogs do. Kindness is always the key with cats, and the only way to train them is to reward good behaviour rather than punish bad behaviour. If you ever shout at or punish your cat, they are not likely to understand, but will become scared and nervous instead.
A scared cat tends to have their tail down between their legs, whereas a happy cat holds their tail straight in the air or curled around them when relaxing. There are some exceptions where a few exotic breeds tend to walk with their tail down, but if you are doing anything to a cat against their will, like holding them when they'd rather be left alone, a waggling tail is the first sign of their discomfort.
In the same way, to get the most out of your introvert, kindness is the key. Introverts are not very good at shouting matches, or otherwise aggressive situations, so always try to resolve any conflicts as calmly and kindly as you can. I know they can be annoying, and sometimes seem a bit sulky, but they are just not naturally equipped for loud drama.
How cats and introverts show affection
Dog owners tend to think cats are aloof as pets as they don’t express their excitement or affection as overtly as dogs do. But cat owners know that cats can be very affectionate and loyal indeed, you just have to know how to read the more subtle ways they show their love. If a cat sits near you voluntarily, it means they are comfortable with you. When they feel content they might purr when you stroke them (but be aware that sometimes cats also purr to calm themselves down, so try to read the situation), and they rub themselves against you which means they are claiming ownership (hey, in this case, ownership=love) over you. Cats may also expose their tummy when they are relaxing or playing with you, which indicates trust. It is also thought that when a cat winks slowly at you with both their eyes, this means ‘I love you’.
Overall, cats are pretty easy to keep happy. Just as long as they get their favourite food, at the preferred time, and plenty of play, cuddles and sleep, they will happily never leave your side.
Introverts also might be a bit more subtle with their displays of affection. A sure way to know you have the trust of an introvert is when you find yourself thinking that they are more talkative than you realised. When an introvert feels relaxed, especially when you’re alone with them, they will seem like light years away from that quiet wallflower you might have first been introduced to. Also, generally, when an introvert commits to a friendship or a relationship, they do so fully.
If you’re lucky enough to have won the love of an introvert, with the right insider knowledge, they also are fairly easy to keep happy. Just as long as they get to feel secure in their surroundings and get plenty of alone time, you can be sure that they are a loving, loyal and dedicated partner, even if they are not prone to extravagant romantic displays.
And there you have it, you are now up to speed with the most commonly shared traits of cats and introverts. Obviously, this post is just a bit of fun, but hopefully, it might have explained some of the traits that you might have wondered about your cat or your introvert. Kudos to you for being an amazing, caring companion!