For cat owners and cat lovers, this might not come as a huge surprise. For others, pay attention – this may make you want to get a kitty of your own.
A study out of Oregon State University shows that cats, long thought to be, well, assholes, can form bonds with their owners just like kids do with their parents. That means our furry feline friends think of us humans as caregivers, and they really do love us!
Previously, scientists had tested out how different animals react when they are reunited with their caregivers after a short absence. They’ve done this with monkeys, dogs, and human babies, so it was time to give it a shot with cats.
And the research showed that cats can form secure bonds with their owners just like human babies and other animals. The study found that 65% of kittens were securely bonded to their owners, almost the exact same ratio as human babies.
How do the researchers define “secure” bonding? It’s when a cat’s owner returns after an absence, and the cat pays attention to them and explores their surroundings. “Insecure” is summed up as when a cat avoids its owner and has anxious body language.
Study author Kristyn Vitale said the following:
“Although pet cats outnumber dogs in many countries, including the United States, we still know little about cat behavior and human-cat interactions. There has been relatively little research into the cat-human bond, especially when we compare it to the number of research studies with dogs and humans.”
“We found that the attachment bond cats display toward their owners is very similar to the bond dogs share with their owners and even the bond human infants display toward their caretakers. All three species display the same distinct patterns of attachment behavior. The majority of individuals in all species are securely attached to their caregiver, meaning they use their caregiver as a source of comfort and security in an unfamiliar situation.”
Here is a video of a cat attachment experiment.
Good news all around!
Okay, time to get another cat, pronto.