Dogs have long been portrayed as man’s best friends. For cats, the image is something more akin to a frenemy. But a new study from the journal Behavioural Processes indicated that domestic felines may be more open to social interaction than some people—more specifically, they would rather enjoy human company than eat.

Pointing out the “common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable,” the study, released Friday and co-authored by researchers from Oregon State University and Monmouth University, noted that “this disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”

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To test what interested cats most, the researchers presented felines from both homes and shelters with three “stimuli” for each of the four categories “human social interaction,” food, “toy” and smell, and recorded the amount of time the animals spent with each stimulus.

“Although there was clear individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the most-preferred stimulus category for the majority of cats, followed by food,” the study said, adding that felines from both shelters and domestic environments exhibited a preference for human socializing.

That social proclivity may be because they see people as bigger, clumsier versions of themselves, unlike dogs, which adjust their behavior when they see a person, as opposed to when interacting with another dog, according to John Bradshaw, the author of the 2013 book “Cat Sense.”

“We've yet to discover anything about cat behavior that suggests they have a separate box they put us in when they're socializing with us,” Bradshaw told National Geographic in 2014. “They obviously know we're bigger than them, but they don't seem to have adapted their social behavior much. Putting their tails up in the air, rubbing around our legs, and sitting beside us and grooming us are exactly what cats do to each other."

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Still, while they may like their owners, cats don’t exactly need them the way dogs do, or the way children harbor a dependent attachment to their parents, according to a 2015 study in the journal PLoS ONE.

“Although cats vocalised more when the owner rather the stranger left the cat with the other individual, there was no other evidence consistent with the interpretation of the bond between a cat and its owner meeting the requirements of a secure attachment,” the study, by Daniel Simon Mills of the University of Lincoln in the U.K., said. “These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety.”