Those who categorise cats as ‘cold’ and devoid of ‘emotions’ probably has never owned one because a study just debunked the misconstrued notion surrounding our feline friend. A new study on Monday suggests that many cats form healthy bonds with their humans, in much the same way as dogs and human babies do. Study lead author Dr Kristyn Vitale, of Oregon State University in the United States conducting the study on cats said, ‘Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof.
‘There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave this way. ‘But the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security. Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed out.’
Much like the viral video on YouTube cat, Sho kho, where his owner set up a test on his beloved Kho asking ‘Do cats miss us when we leave?’ which made us have a second thought about leaving our feline friends home all alone, the researchers for the new study had cats participate in a ‘secure base test’ – similar to those used to study baby and dog attachment behaviours.
In the first test, the cat is placed in a new room with their owner, after which the owner leaves the cat alone and then returns from the two-minute absence. The result showed that cats with secure attachment to the person are less stressed after the reunion. They continue to explore the room but still pay attention to the owner. Cats with an insecure attachment show signs of stress and either stay away from their owner or cling to them ‘ambivalently’ by sitting motionlessly in their lap.
Of the 70 kittens tested, almost two-thirds were ‘securely attached’ with the remainder categorised as ‘insecurely attached.’
“Cats mainly reacted in one of three ways to the return of their owner,” Vitale said. “Secure cats greet their owner and then return to relaxed play and exploration (known as the Secure Base Effect), while insecure cats do not return to relaxed behavior and either excessively cling to their owner (insecure-ambivalence) or avoid their owner (insecure-avoidance).”
Of the kittens, 9 ended up being unclassifiable, but of the remaining group, 64.3 percent were categorised as securely attached and 35.7 percent as insecurely attached . The adult cats showed similar rates: 65.8 percent demonstrating secure attachment versus 34.2 percent being insecure.
The finding showed that cats fell into these subsets of attachment at roughly the same rates as dogs and infants with around two-thirds clearly displayed a secure attachment to their owners.
"I think there's this idea that dogs are this way, and cats are that way. But there's a lot of variability in both populations’’ Vitale said.