Homophily and cats' faces

That’s a picture of our outdoor cat, Sampson, or Sammy, or Sammersky Wammerskies. We have two cats and, just in front of Sampson but not shown in the photo, are two small dogs. Sammy may look like he’s being aggressive in the photo, but he’s not.

If it were a video, you’d experience his dramatic facial expression giving a very soft meow, sometimes completely silent. He follows his morning greeting with a gentle, slow pawing at the doormat, curious head nod, brows raised, and affectionate cheek rub against the glass door.

I love dogs. I like cats just a little bit more and I think I do for the same reason that many other cat fans also do: homophily. They’re like us.

The word like can mean either attracted to or similar to. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. We like (are attracted to) people whom we’re alike or would like to be; we also dislike people who are not like us or whom we would not like to be.

How expressive is a dog’s face in comparison? Not as much.

But a cat’s? Much more.

Earlier this week at work, a friend stopped by my cubicle to say hi. The conversation lasted about 60 seconds, but in that time, he never made eye contact and seemed hurried by other tasks, to include his phone. He wasn’t being rude. This is just how we typically communicate. We’re busy. It’s the opposite in the movies.

Ever notice how in movies or TV, compared to real life, people act more attentively and deliberately in interacting with each other? Cats are like that. They’re slower in their interaction and appear more attentive and aware to others, and give off a wider range of emotional expressions (or what look like emotional expressions).