We often see cats as laid back jerks that only tolerate us because we feed and take good care of them. But a recent study has shown that we’ve probably underestimated our pets. It turned out that cats really do need their owners and are emotionally attached to them, just like dogs. Well, maybe after all, cats are also man’s best friend.
Bright Side can’t wait to share the results of this fascinating study and prove that cats are more connected with us than we used to think.
How scientists found out
Scientists from Oregon State University conducted a study to find out whether cats could build an emotional attachment to their owners. They invited 70 cat owners, with their pets, and asked them to do a simple task. Each owner had to stay with their pet for 2 minutes in the same room, then leave the room for another 2 minutes, and then come back and stay with their cat for 2 more minutes.
Cats show a higher level of a secure emotional attachment than dogs.
The results turned out to be pretty surprising: about 64% of the cats appeared to be less stressed when their owner was with them in the same room, than during the separation. Scientists believe that it’s a sign that cats can form a so-called “secure attachment” just as dogs and children do. It means that they feel more secure and confident and are more likely to be active and explore the world around them when their caregiver is present.
About 35% of the surveyed cats displayed an “insecure attachment” style, showing signs of stress like avoiding their owner. Surprisingly, the levels of secure and insecure attachment between the cats and their owners are almost similar to those shown by children (65% secure, 35% insecure). Even dogs scored lower on this scale with only 58% secure!
Cats’ levels of a secure emotional attachment are similar to the ones that children display.
Kristyn Vitale, the lead writer of the study, is sure that both cats and dogs demonstrate the same kind of attachment to their owners as children do to their caregivers. Most cats spend a lot of time with their owners, so they become more dependent, see them as a source of security, and even come to them when they need comfort.
It’s all about the genes.
Scientists claim that further training and socialization may have a little impact on the way cats feel about their owners. It’s heritable factors like temperament that matter the most. Researchers highlighted that if a cat manages to connect with their caregiver, their relationship will be stable in the long run.
However, further research is needed.
Skeptics say that this experiment should be repeated with strangers, because now we can’t know for sure whether the cats were responding to the presence of their owner or if they would have reacted in a similar way to any human. But cats definitely form an emotional connection to their owner, we just can’t be sure that it can be classified as a psychological secure attachment in the traditional sense, without further research.
Do you agree with the results of the study? How does your cat display affection? Share stories about your pets in the comments.
Preview photo credit aloveolive / reddit