Cats may care more about their owners than thought

Admittedly, this is a far from statistically sound study but its results certainly give support to those of us who have absolutely no doubt that our cats are as deeply attached to us as any dog.

It turns out your cat may be more attached to you than previously thought.

By Rachel Sylvester

September 26, 2019
Getty Images

Whether you’re a cat owner, devoted dog lover, or proud plant mom, there’s no denying the results of a new study that found your pet cat isn’t actually plotting your demise.

Contrary to the long-held belief that cats aren’t capable of forging human-animal connections, new research published in the journal Current Biology revealed that domestic cats do actually form emotional attachments to their owners.

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Conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, the study focused on the behaviors of 38 adult cats and 70 kittens during a situational Secure Base Test (SBT). During this test, all 108 cats and kittens spent two minutes in a room alone with their caregiver, followed by two minutes of solo time. Afterward, the felines were reunited with their owners for yet another two-minute span. Once the timed reunion was complete, each feline’s response to their owner’s return was assessed to determine the attachment style of said cat to its caregiver.

Upon reuniting with their caregivers, 64 percent of kittens displayed a “reduced stress response,” therefore categorizing themselves as “securely attached” to their owners (a trait often attributed to dogs and infants).

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According to Kristyn Vitale, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University, a securely attached cat behaves similarly to a securely attached human. “The characteristics of a secure cat, for example, [are] greeting their owner and then going back to what they were doing,” Vitale said in a statement to NBC News.

The remaining 36 percent of kittens displayed characteristics of an “insecure attachment,” meaning they were ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized toward their owners. Of the adult cats that were studied, a similar split of secure versus insecure attachments was also observed.

While the study doesn’t prove that all cats do, in fact, appreciate their owners, feline fans can rest assured knowing there’s a good chance their pet isn’t plotting against them.

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