Cats do love you, even if they don't show it

24 September 2019, 03:54

They may seem aloof, but cats really do love you
They may seem aloof, but cats really do love you. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Cats may act as though they only care about us as long as we fill their food bowls, but it turns out that couldn't be further from the truth.

New research has revealed domestic cats form bonds with their human owners in a similar way to babies and dogs.

Scientists put the felines to the test by putting each one in an unfamiliar room for two minutes with their caregiver, followed by two minutes alone, before reintroducing the person for another two minutes, to see how it behaved

When their owner returned, about 65 per cent displayed signs of being less stressed and balanced their attention between the person and their surroundings, known as "secure attachment".

Others showed traits of avoidance, with "insecure attachment" indicators such as twitching their tail and licking their lips.

"In both dogs and cats, attachment to humans may represent an adaptation of the offspring-caretaker bond," said Kristyn Vitale, a researcher in the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University

"Attachment is a biologically relevant behaviour.

"Our study indicates that when cats live in a state of dependency with a human, that attachment behaviour is flexible and the majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort."

Kittens who participated in the study were also put through a six-week socialisation training course to see if there were any major differences, but noticed no change.

"Once an attachment style has been established between the cat and its caregiver, it appears to remain relatively stable over time, even after a training and socialisation intervention," Ms Vitale added.

"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."

The test, published in the Current Biology journal, is similar to previous work with primates and dogs.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Sebastian Kurz

Former Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz convicted of making false statements

A Palestinian looks at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential buildings in Rafah, Gaza Strip

Netanyahu seeks open-ended control over security in Gaza in new postwar plan

Firefighters work at a burned building in Valencia, Spain

Death toll rises to 10 after apartment block fire in Valencia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and defence minister Sergei Shoigu take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden on Defender of the Fatherland D

US and EU pile new sanctions on Russia

Flowers to commemorate the death of Alexei Navalny

Navalny ally says authorities threaten to bury Kremlin critic on prison grounds

The blaze, fanned by strong winds, engulfed the block within half an hour.

Family-of-four, including 15-day-old baby, killed in Valencia fire as death toll rises to 10

Farmers drive their tractors in Paris

French farmers take tractors back on the streets of Paris in new protest

A growing cannabis plant

Germany’s parliament votes to back plans to allow ‘cannabis clubs’

Christian B, centre, at the start of his trial at Braunschweig district court in Brunswick, Germany, on February 16 2024

Madeleine McCann suspect will not respond to charges in unrelated German trial

Liz Truss speaking at the CPAC event

‘They got me’: Liz Truss lashes out at ‘economic establishment’ as she speaks at right wing conference in the US

Lee Ho-yang, a prominent K-pop composer and producer better known by his professional name of Shinsadong Tiger

Prominent K-pop composer found dead in South Korea

Raindrops cover a portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, placed between flowers in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin

Return Navalny’s body to his family, famous Russians urge authorities

Accusations against Brueckner have been read out in court

Irish tour guide feared Madeleine McCann suspect 'would behead her during rape' as full accusations revealed in court

People mourn the death of miner Santiago Mora

Families mourn miners killed in Venezuela’s worst mining accident in years

Li Tie

Former Everton and Sheffield United footballer 'jailed for life for match-fixing and paying bribes'

Brueckner's trial is unrelated to Madeleine's disappearance

Madeleine McCann suspect subject of 'unfair media campaign' over toddler's disappearance, lawyer tells court