Why do animals like me?

Shayna says her cat doesn’t like anyone. Yet the kitty climbed into my lap and rubbed faces with me.

Another friend of mine has a cat that is actively hostile to people. And yet she eventually crawled into my lap and let me pet her.

A neighbour has a big yellow Lab who is especially fond of two people in the building. I’m one of them. He’ll come up to me and just lean against my legs.

Animals tend to like me. Why? Do some people have a certain scent that attracts animals? Is there certain behaviour (i.e., visual cues) that people give to animals that make them like them or not? Just what is it that makes animals like certain people?

You smell like fresh liver.

I don’t know, but they like me too…especially cats. Unfortunately, I am allergic to cats. I get a horrible itch wherever they touch me, and my eyes water and itch, and my nose runs like Niagra Falls in a rainstorm. But they love me, and want to sit on me. sigh

Hey, Johnny, you always seemed like an OK guy to me…

Seriously, though, animals are good at reading body language. You probably come across as gentle and trustworthy.

There was a study done a few years ago that showed that cats - i dont know about other animals go near people that dont look at them. I dont know why this is but, if you dont look at a cat it will try to bother you. If you look at it alot it wont. This is why cats may be attracted to people with allergies to them (i know a lot of people with allergies to cats).

I don’t think that’s it, man779977. If I’m in a room with a cat, I tend to watch it very closely to see what it’s up to and if it’s looking like it might want to jump on me.

Your breath smells like cat food.

Seriously, though, I’ve noticed this myself. My WAG is that it has something to do with how people initially react to animals. My theory is that animals are most comfortable with people who tend to ignore them.

There is an old joke that dogs classify everything in the worlds as a) something to eat, b) something to mate with c) something to run away from and d) rocks. By default, if you are inedible, unattractive and non-threatening, you are a rock and animals are unconcerned about approaching you. Of course, if the animal happens to approach you and has a positive experience, you fall into the same general category as warm, sunny rocks that are good to take naps on.

By contrast, if you are inedible and unattractive but actively pursue the animal, the animal instinctively puts you in class c).

This ties into the study that suggest that cats approach people who don’t look at them. If a cat is nervous around new people, new people who chase it around the house screeching “Here, kitty, kitty!” are going to be unpopular. However, the cat who comes to think of the new person as some bizzare piece of new furniture will be much calmer.

You are a helicopter pilot, right Johnny? All of the pilots I knew were very laid back, easy going guys. Their body movements are very relaxed, and they are generally calm people.

Exactly the type of person that does not frighten an animal.

I’m sorry, but that “relaxed body language” is hooey. I tense up, threaten, and even toss cats, and the damn things still come rubbing up against me. I hate them.

Predatory animals like wolves and cats instinctually pick up on signs of fear and it makes them aggressive. Obviously you are exuding a calm, cool demeanor that they like. Either that or the cat food breath thing.

One other thing; some dogs also respond if you mimic the behavior of infant pups. A friend of mine’s dog was abused by its former owner and is traumatized, extremely skittish. The only way I can get near her is if I whimper like a puppy and lay on my back exposing my belly showing vulnerability.

Hm. So animals are attracted to laid back people who don’t bother them too much? I did tend to ignore my friend’s cat, because I knew she didn’t like people. I’d give Shayna’s cat a little pet if she was nearby, but I didn’t try to catch her or anything. The bug yellow Lab… He seems to like most people. But his owner says he likes me especially. Maybe because I’m a guy and his previous owner (her son) is a guy?

It sounds, then, as if animals respond more to behaviour than to scent or something?

Another way to coax a skittish puppy is do what dogs do when they are feeling playful: Get down on all fours with your elbows on the ground, put your head low to the ground and stick your butt in the air. No, really. Watch dogs at play. This seems to be universal dog body language for “I want to play!”

Q.E.D.: I’ve done that.

Huh. I’m another person that normally has no problems with animals not liking me. Even completely psycho ones get a bit less psycho.

I also have complete strangers start talking with me, and telling me all kinds of stuff I’m just better off NOT knowing about most of my friends, much less a stranger! Do you have that happen to you also, Johnny L.A., or is it just the animals? Because if you have that effect on people also, then yes, it’s probably because of your attitude/body language.

(Hmmm. Hopefully that last bit parses right, nothing like a couple of mugs o’ hot cocoa to dull the mind.)

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