Dear Christopher Cat: I have never had a pet, but I would like the companionship of one. I’m thinking about a cat, because I’m not sure I can commit to walking a dog as often as needed. However, I’ve heard that cats are less social than dogs, and I really do want a companion. What’s your advice?

Christopher Responds: My feline family members and I are all very social, and we were adopted from the shelter as adults. So I’m confident you’ll be happy adopting a cat.

Your timing is perfect, because shelters and rescue organizations are full of kittens and adult cats throughout the summer.

A recent study should help you feel more comfortable with this decision. Researchers evaluated shelter cats and pet cats to determine their preferences, reasoning that people will be able to train their cats better if they know what pleases them.

The researchers offered 50 cats three enticing choices in each of four categories: human social interaction, food, toys and scents. They recorded the amount of time the cats spent with each of the twelve choices.

Once the cat indicated his or her favorite choice in each of the four categories, researchers offered these four preferences and recorded how much time the cat spent with each.

The researchers found that most cats preferred human interaction, followed by food, although individual cats varied in their preferences. These results held for both shelter cats and pet cats.

When you visit the shelter or cat rescue, take some time to get to know several cats so you can choose the one – or better yet, two – you like best.