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What Is Cat Mirroring? Facts & Why They Do It

Cat mirroring occurs when cats do the same things as humans or other animals in their environment. It’s usually a sign of love, indicating the existence of a strong human-animal bond. It also occurs when cats follow their favorite humans from room to room and when kitties take over their owners’ laptops.

You even see it between cats, as deeply bonded pairs will often mirror each other’s behavior. And there’s evidence suggesting that cats that live with humans develop personality traits similar to their owners. Read on to learn more about cat mirroring and why cats do it.

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Why Do Cats Mirror People and Other Animals

It’s common for cats to follow people they love from room to room, and it’s usually just a sign of affection. Cats enjoy spending time with people. Many would rather interact with their favorite person than gobble up a treat or play with a toy.

Cats often mirror when learning a new behavior. It’s one of the primary ways kittens learn essential skills from their mothers. And if your cats are following each other around, grooming each other, playing together, and napping curled up into one ball, mirroring behavior is just another sign of how deeply bonded they are.

Cats sometimes attempt to do things such as sit behind their owner’s laptops or on top of textbooks to engage with the same objects as their favorite human. When cats get up to this mirroring activity, they show how much they enjoy interacting with their humans. Mirroring is usually a sign that deep bonds of affection exist, tying the members of the animal-human pair together.

cat sits on a sofa and sniffs owner finger
Image Credit: Soloveva Kseniia, Shutterstock

What About Emotional Mirroring

A 2016 study looked at the impact of owners’ personalities on feline health and temperament. The research team discovered that the humans’ dominant personality traits undoubtedly influenced cats. Individuals with strong neurotic traits often had cats who weighed too much and suffered from stress-related illnesses.

Humans with high scores for conscientiousness often have well-adjusted, slightly naughty cats. The personality of a cat’s owner appears to actively shape the cat’s behavior, indicating just how tight the human-cat bond really is.

How Can I Keep My Cat from Following Me Around?

If having your cat follow you from room to room all day starts to get a bit old, there are a few things you can do to encourage your buddy to give you a bit of a break. Keep in mind that cats never respond to negative feedback, so getting one to change their behavior almost always involves presenting the cat with a better, more enjoyable alternative and wearing them out with a teaser.

Cats, like humans, suffer from anxiety; it’s often one of the reasons they follow well-loved humans around. You make them feel safe. Exercise is one of the tried and true ways to reduce feline anxiety, particularly when performed every day. Grab a teaser and wear your cat in a room close to their favorite napping spot. Chances are your buddy will take a nap after playtime is over, leaving you to enjoy an afternoon unaccompanied by feline companionship.

Make sure your cat has a pleasant place to nap; two or three would be even better. Provide fun alternatives to following you around, like installing a cat bed on a high perch in front of a large window or setting up the perfect cat bed in their favorite room.

Cats also follow owners out of boredom. They’re looking for interaction, engagement, and mental stimulation. Cat enrichment activities such as food puzzles are great ways to provide your pet with mental stimulation while at the same time giving them something fun to do.

Regular playtime is critical for cats’ health and important to developing strong human-animal bonds. If your cat is following you out of boredom, a bit of fun with food puzzles and more play time may result in a more content and engaged cat whose needs for mental stimulation are being met in various ways instead of just interacting with you.

cat playing with food slow feeder
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

What to Do if Your Cat Interrupts You While Working

Cats need attention from their owners. Most enjoy hanging out with you more than treats or toys, so it can be quite challenging to keep a cat who loves being the center of your attention from interrupting while you work.

Consider giving your cat a teaser workout right before you get ready to sit down to work. If you start giving your cat lots of attention at specific times, your pet may mellow out and stop trying to get your attention when you’re trying to concentrate. Cats that receive mental stimulation during play sessions are often less likely to demand constant attention throughout the day.

Make sure your pet has a nice high perch from which to access to observe you somewhere near where you work or a nice warm bed under your desk where they can curl up close to you. Your cat may be less likely to interrupt your work if they have somewhere cozy and inviting to hang out.

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Final Thoughts

Cats mirror each other, other animals, and even their favorite humans. It’s most often a sign of deep love and affection. Cats are part of our families; we influence them just like our children and all other living creatures in our environments. Cats develop behavior and personality traits partly in response to how humans interact with the world.

Creating fun places for your cat to perch and spending lots of time playing with them are great ways to encourage your cat to mellow out long enough for you to get a bit of work done. Content and slightly worn-out kitties that have had a bit of catnip are often less likely to interrupt their owners out of boredom.

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Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock