Cats form strong bonds with people just like dogs do

Cats form strong bonds with people just like dogs do

Asked whether the study shows that cats are capable of having feelings towards their owners, he argued: "Cats are not dogs or humans, so we shouldn't necessarily expect them to act like dogs or humans". Cat lovers would beg to differ, and now there's some science to bolster our case.

To explore this little-researched relationship, researchers from the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University invited cat owners and their pets for a series of tests. And that bonding ability is likely one reason cats have flourished in human homes.

"In both dogs and cats, attachment to humans may represent an adaptation of the offspring-caretaker bond", said Kristyn Vitale. "The majority of cats are securely attached to their owner and use them as a source of security in a novel environment". "We have this stereotype that cats don't depend on their owners". And they often prefer to interact with humans over food or toys. And cats showed a secure attachment rate slightly higher than found in a test of 59 companion dogs published in 2018; the canines were 61 percent secure and 39 percent insecure.

"We're now looking at several aspects of cat attachment behavior, including whether socialization and fostering opportunities impact attachment security in shelter cats", Vitale said. Our study indicates that when cats live in a state of dependency with a human, that attachment behaviour is flexible and the majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort'.

The cats spent two minutes in a new room with their owner, followed by two minutes alone.

"The characteristics of a secure cat, for example, [are] greeting their owner and then going back to what they were doing", Vitale told NBC News. About 30 percent in the same feline group were categorized as insecurely attached, which means they remained stressed after the human re-entered the room and were immediately seeking contact, or total avoidance, altogether.

The proportion of securely and insecurely attached cats did not budge.

"How dare you leave me alone in here?"

Close up of a healthy, lovely cat. This is called a "secure base test".

That's in marked contrast to the behavior of cats deemed insecure-ambivalent. "Rather than going back to exploring, they cling to their owner's lap, sometimes engaging in a kind of spinning behavior where they nearly can't get comfortable in the owner's lap". The study revealed that about 65% of the participating cats and kittens were securely bonded with their owners.

In a secure attachment, a dog in a odd environment will, upon being reunited with their humans, relax and continue to explore.

There may also be heritable factors, like temperament, at work.

They also found that when cats are outside, they become super alert, scanning their surroundings for more than a half hour. Researchers observed and organized their data into different categories: secure, ambivalent, disorganized, and avoidant.

The researchers then enrolled the felines in a six-week "socialisation" training course to see they could be taught attachment.

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