It’s official: women who have cats don’t need men! New research by premium cat food brand Olli studied the physical responses of women cat owners to a variety of images including their partner, their parents, their cat and pin ups like Daniel Craig. Yet the results revealed that whilst 71% of cat owners showed a significantly higher increase in both heart rate and pupil size when they eyed up pictures of their much loved cats, the hearts of a massive 57% of participants failed to race at the sight of their lover.

Aware that the ‘thunderbolt’ causes a completely automatic physical reaction in the love-struck including dilated pupils (in constant light) and faster heart beat, psychologist Dr David Lewis and his Olli cat food research team analysed how women reacted to a dozen different photographs. Monitoring the women in constant light levels, a photographic device then took close-up photographs of their eyes as they were shown the pictures, whilst researchers simultaneously recorded heart rates using a sophisticated medical pulse meter.

On average, the pupils of the women in the study increased by an average of 3 mm when they saw a picture of their much loved cat with far smaller increases being produced by the sight of two unfamiliar cats. More worryingly for Casanovas competing for affection this February, the heart rates of almost a third of the women observed became more sluggish when their pin-up shots of their lovers were shown.

Dr David Lewis says: “The widening of the pupils in constant light is called the ‘pupillary reflex’ and is the physical phenomenon behind ‘love at first sight’. This study shows that the cats have got the cream when it comes to winning the hearts of their female owners, whilst partners and boyfriends may well be the runners up in the love stakes in many households!”

It wasn’t just the physical manifestations of love which gave a woman’s preference for her feline friend away. Olli cat food also commissioned a nationwide survey from market research company OnePoll [2], which showed that whilst 13% of women would part with their partner for £5 million only 5% of cat owners would say adieu to their treasured pet for the same amount. So all you men out there take note, as you will have to work a little harder this Valentines Day.

Other reasons respondents said they loved their cat more than any other included:

67% said their cats were more loyal, affectionate and trustworthy than people 40% feel their cats offer them unconditional love which they don’t get from anyone else When it comes to chilling out and talking over problems after a stressful day, nearly one in three women prefer talking to their cat over anyone else!


Almost half of respondents said they would be put off a potential partner if they didn’t like cats