It's not imagination; many cats play it safe and gravitate towards people who aren't trying to get their attention. Gestures and calls can seem like pressure, or even come across as threatening. The person not wanting attention seems like a safer choice.
Cats do other things that can seem peculiar, like sit in boxes, or drink out of glasses instead of their water bowl.
While these behaviors appear illogical to humans, there's an explanation for everything. When it comes to the water, cats in the wild avoid drinking from a water source close to their dead prey. It's survival instinct; the water can be contaminated.
This instinct remains, and cats choose water far away from their store-bought food to make sure it won't make them sick. Try putting the water bowl in another corner than the food.
The cardboard boxes also have a natural explanation. In the wild, cats are territorial and like to claim a location as theirs. They also like to be in enclosed spaced, because it's safe.
~ Maria Sadowski ~