Cats see their humans as parents — maybe even more so than dogs, according to study
Cats have a rotten reputation as a cold and distant domesticated animal — at least compared to their main competitor, known as “man’s best friend（dogs）.”
But felines do feel affection towards their humans, they simply express it differently — and it’s not just cat people saying it! Now there’s science to prove it, too.
Oregon State University researchers concluded that cats really do actually love their humans — or at the very least, see them as parents or caregivers — after conducting a study on kittens, modeled after previous research on dogs and babies.
The study, published in Current Biology, examined how kitten subjects reacted after spending two minutes with their caretaker, being left alone, then reuniting for another two minutes. After the experiment, they categorized each kitten by the attachment styles assigned to human babies and dogs in previous studies — secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized.
64 percent of the kittens demonstrated a “secure attachment style” to their caregiver, meaning the cat seemed distraught when they left the room but “displayed a reduced stress response” upon their return.
On the other hand, about 30 percent of the kittens were found to have an “insecure attachment style,” which means their stress levels did not decrease upon their person’s return to the room. That said, this split is consistent with the literature on human children — so the smaller percentage with insecure attachment styles is not specific to cats, contrary to popular belief. Also of note: The percentage of cats with “secure” attachment styles is actually higher than dogs’ — only 58 per cent of dogs demonstrated the “secure” attachment, while 42 percent were categorized as insecure.
What’s more, cats’ behavioural patterns remained consistent when the OSU team recreated the experiment with a group of fully grown cats. Thus: Kittens and cats show the same level of affection to their caregivers as human babies, and maybe even slightly more than dogs.