Have you ever visited friends and their cat ignores you, the cat lover, and instead keeps going over to someone who is afraid of cats or may not like them much? Nothing like feeling rejected, right? Why does this happen?
Cats communicate by scent as well as body language and vocalization. You the cat lover have already been marked by your cat’s scent. Every time your cat rubs on you, or you scratch its chin, or pet it, you are marked as someone in your cat’s social community. The cat in the household you are visiting sees you to a degree as a newcomer cat that may be a threat. In addition, cats view direct stares as a threat. We often look directly at cats we are interested in, and this can be perceived threatening to them and they avoid us. People who do not have cats have not been marked with cat scent and so may be more easily received into the household cat community. In addition, people who are afraid of cats or indifferent to them do not usually approach the cat and the cat can get accustomed to their presence and approach them in their own time.
So if you want to make friends with a new cat, wash your hands, wear new clothes, and play hard to get!