Why Cats Love Phones - Jealous Behavior

Cat Phone Fanatics

Kitten looks at and play mobile phone on bed.
by CaoWei / Getty Images

What is it about cats and telephones that brings on the pester-bug? When the phone rings, does your kitty come a-running? At my house, a telephone conversation brings my cat Seren quicker than a bag of catnip.

Cat Phone Fanatics

Some cat lovers are sure the cat simply is jealous of the attention humans give the phone. And due to super-kitty hearing ability, cats may also be selective and demand more attention when they recognize a particular voice on the other end of the line. I posed this question on my Facebook page and it turns out that cats aren't alone. Dogs do it too, and a "Wordy Bird" parrot raises a ruckus with whistles when his owner gets a call. Another friend's horse tries to grab the phone.

Just the ringtone may prompt pets to investigate. Seren used to answer my office phone when I was gone. She'd snake a paw beneath the receiver and leave it off the hook, and I missed calls that way. According to the phone bill, she also dialed a few times. These days when I'm home and make or take a call, Seren comes running and then "flips" at my feet with lots of meows. That drives the dog nuts, which in her case may be another kitty reward.

Why Cats Love Phones

Actually, it makes sense. Rather than kitty being jealous of the telephone, it's more likely that the ringtone signals other things that benefit the cat.

First, kitty learns that when the phone rings (or you make a call), there are predictable behaviors. In my case, usually, I sit at my upstairs desk or a downstairs chair for the duration of the call. Seren knows I'm literally at her mercy for this time chained to the chair. It's similar to bedtime when the cat knows an owner won't move for some time.

Second, when owners use the phone they talk to who? Kitty can't see anyone else there. So a phone conversation must mean the owner is talking to the cat! It would be the height of kitty rudeness to ignore that, and so the responsible and loving cat shows up to return the attention.

I'm just glad Seren doesn't have opposable thumbs. She already knows how to answer and dial, and if she had thumbs then she'd be texting.