For many of us, connecting deeply with our children and dogs is one of life’s greatest highlights. To those who become parents, few experiences compare to the sometimes overwhelming love we feel for our children. And it’s no secret that dogs mean just as much to many of us. The emotional bond we feel with our children and pups can be central to our enjoyment of life.
On the other hand, cats have a reputation for being independent, aloof, and even standoffish. But is this stereotype true? Can cats bond with us as deeply as children or dogs?
A 2019 study says cats do bond with us just as intimately as their canine – and human – counterparts, maybe even more so.
Before I had a cat, I had no idea what they were really like. I assumed what I had heard about them was true: They like to be alone. They can be stubborn. They don’t submit to anyone, certainly not to humans. They don’t connect with humans the way dogs do.
Once I adopted my first cat, however, I realized I had been so wrong. My cat was highly affectionate and intensely loving, even making a concerted effort to sit on my lap whenever I was having a particularly difficult moment. He maintained eye contact with me regularly and slept by my side every night. The generalizations I had heard about aloof and stoic cats had been so erroneous.
Oregon State University’s Human-Animal Interaction Lab conducts research that aims to study canine-human interactions and cognition, cat-human interactions and cognition, and applied animal behavior. (1)
In one of their tests, they studied 70 kittens and 38 adult cats. They carefully watched as a cat and his human caregiver spent two minutes in a room with which they were unfamiliar. The person was asked to leave after the two minutes were up. The cat, however, stayed in the strange environment for two additional minutes. Last, the human reentered the room and reconnected with their cat. The researchers analyzed the feline’s behavior upon reuniting with their caregiver. After six weeks of training the cats, they conducted the same test again. (1)
Secure Vs. Insecure Attachment
One of the main points the researches focused on included what type of attachment cats displayed towards their caregivers. There are two primary types of attachment dogs and babies experience: secure and insecure. (1)
Secure attachment presents itself when a human or animal displays feelings of safety, calm, or affection in the midst of stressful situations. Insecure attachment, on the other hand, presents itself as anxiety, stress, or ambivalence in stressful situations. Essentially, secure attachment means more emotionally intimate bonding has occurred, while insecure attachment means less emotionally intimate bonding has occurred. (2)
From their analysis of over 100 pairs of felines and people, they discovered that the attachment cats feel towards their human family is just as common, if not more, than that experienced by babies and dogs. While 65% of babies and 58% of dogs display secure attachments in similar studies, a whopping 64.3% of the kittens and 65.8% of adult cats showed signs of secure attachment to their humans. (1)
Cats Bond As Much As Dogs and Babies
The bottom line is, cats may appear less affectionate because many are introverted by human standards, but their connection to us is just as intense as our dogs or babies. So next time your cat prefers to bask alone in the sunlight rather than beg for your attention, remember, he loves you just as much as any infant or dog ever could. (1)
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This content was originally published here.