Contrary To Popular Belief, Cats Perhaps Bond To Their Humans Even More Than Dogs

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Contrary To Popular Belief, Cats Perhaps Bond To Their Humans Even More Than Dogs

Many people tend to dislike cats (like that's even possible!) because they find them too independent and think that they're not capable of bonding with their human guardian. However, science comes to prove otherwise once again. According to a 2019 study, cats can get just as (or even more) bonded to their human friends as dogs do.


This may not come as a big surprise to those who have cat companions, but it also suggests two important things. Firstly, it looks like we have underestimated the depth of the bond cats can form with their humans. It also shows that dogs do not have a monopoly on secure social bonding with Homo sapiens.


In their behavioral experiment, the research team also observed how cats respond to their humans in a strange environment. A previous study on rhesus monkeys (the controversial wire mother experiments reported back in 1958), as well as dogs (a much more ethically sound experiment reported in 2019), had demonstrated that both species could form secure and insecure attachments.


In secure attachments, a dog in a strange environment will, upon being reunited with their owners, relax and continue to explore. An insecure attachment, however, will see the dog continue exhibiting anxious behavior, either clinging excessively to its owner or avoiding them as much as possible.


Animal scientist Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University, with her team, conducted a test of those two attachment types on 79 kittens and 38 adult cats.


First, the cat or kitten and their owner were put together in a room, with the human sitting in a marked circle. Now, if the cat entered the circle, then the human could interact with it. After two minutes, the human would leave, and the cat would stay alone. After another two minutes, the human would return to the room and sit in the circle again.


The whole test was filmed, and the scientists analyzed the video to classify the cats or kittens' attachment type.


The adult cats participated in the test only once, but the kittens were tested twice, with the second time being after two months after 39 of the kitties had been through a six-week training and socialization course. The other 31 kitties acted as a control group.


Of the kittens, nine ended up being unclassifiable. However, 64.3% of the remaining group were categorized as securely attached and 35.7% as insecurely attached - the training had no bearing on attachment style. When an attachment style has been established, it seems, this is probably how it is going to stay.


Adult cats showed similar rates: 65.8% demonstrating secure attachment versus 34.2% being insecure.


Intriguingly, those rates - 64.3% and 65.8% - are pretty close to the 65% secure attachment rate seen in human infants. Cats showed a secure attachment rate a bit higher than found in a test of 59 companion dogs published in 2018; the dogs were 61% secure and 39% insecure.


Previously, Vitale's work had demonstrated that cats are not as aloof as their public image would make them seem; those fuzzy little felines can actually be downright sociable and affectionate, as long as you are not a jerk to them. They often even prefer to interact with humans over food or toys.


The new study suggests that cats have both the ability and the necessary traits to build deep social bonds with humans. It's just that they might express themselves in their own special way.


The research was published in Current Biology.

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Thinking Humanity: Contrary To Popular Belief, Cats Perhaps Bond To Their Humans Even More Than Dogs
Contrary To Popular Belief, Cats Perhaps Bond To Their Humans Even More Than Dogs
Many people tend to dislike cats (like that's even possible!) because they find them too independent and think that they're not capable of bonding with their human guardian. However, science comes to prove otherwise once again.
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