A new study has validated an old stereotype. Researchers from the UK say that cats don’t perceive their humans as a source of safety and security, and don’t feel like they need you to take care of them.
During the experiment, cats have proven to be independents pets that don’t feel separation anxiety when their humans leave the house or leave them with strangers.
However, Professor Daniel Mills, expert of veterinary behavioral medicine over at the University of Lincoln (England), offered a statement to Live Science stressing that “This is not about whether cats love their owners”. In fact, if they haven’t ran away, that’s because they feel attached to you. But they will never run to you when they feel scared.
This may also be the reason why “The domestic cat has recently passed the dog as the most popular companion animal in Europe, with many seeing a cat as an ideal pet for owners who work long hours” – our feline friends require less attention than man’s best friend.
Professor Mills got inspired to conduct the study after learning that previous research has linked some cats to the same type of separation anxiety that dogs feel when their humans are not around. However, the new study has concluded that cats don’t have this reaction at all, and that that’s because they’re a lot more independent than dogs and don’t form a child-like connection with their humans.
For their study, Professor Mills and his colleagues picked out 20 different cats and looked at their reactions when moved to a new environment. Some subjects were placed in the new environment along with their humans, other subjects were placed in an environment where strangers lived, and other subjects were placed in an empty environment, with no human presence whatsoever.
The researchers analyzed how much contact the subjects tried to get from humans, monitored the cats’ passive behavior, and looked for any potential signs of distress that may have been triggered by not being able to find their human owner.
The results revealed that the subjects were noticeably more vocal when they were placed in the empty environments and in the environments with strangers. But the researchers were unable to find undeniable proof that cats form a bond of secure attachment with their human.
Professor Mills theorized that the vocalization and “what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration”.
Celia Haddon, cat expert and author of How To Read Your Cat’s Mind, as well as Cats Behaving Badly, offered a statement of her own mentioning that the study doesn’t show that cats don’t love their humans, just that they prefer to take care of themselves. For instance, when cats feels scared, they’re impulse is to hide under the bed or climb a tree, rather than run towards their human in search of safety.
But if a cat has not left home, this is a sign of attachment. It’s exactly because of their independence that they will not choose to live in a house where they are not happy.
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