Not so aloof: Cats capable of strong bonds with humans | News | DW | 24.09.2019
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Not so aloof: Cats capable of strong bonds with humans

A new study shows that cats are just as capable of forming bonds with their human caregivers as dogs and children. The study from Oregon State University explains why cats often appear so haughty.

Pet cats are capable of bonds with their owners to equal those formed by dogs and even children, according to a new study.

Academics at Oregon State University researched what they call the "non-canine-specific mechanisms" which explain "cross-species attachment."

"In both dogs and cats, attachment to humans may represent an adaptation of the offspring-caretaker bond," said Kristyn Vitale, one of the researchers at the Human-Animal Interaction Lab in Oregon, USA.

Read more: Can a new pet save Boris Johnson?

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

'Similar to infants and dogs'

In the study, a researcher spent two minutes in a new room with a cat before leaving the creature alone for two minutes, and then returned for a further two minutes.

The study showed that cats with secure attachment to their owners showed fewer signs of stress when the human care-giver returned. Cats with insecure attachment showed signs of stress when the owner returned.

The study found that in both kittens and adult cats, over 60% of felines demonstrated secure attachment levels.

This level of attachment is almost exactly the same as has been recorded in similar studies in infants and dogs. There was also no significant difference noted between the behavior of kittens and cats.

This indicates that cats are just as capable as dogs in forming close bonds with humans.

"Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof," Vitale commented.

According to research by, cats are the most popular pet in Germany, with 14.8 million of them living in 23% of households. Dogs, meanwhile, took second place, with 9.4 million canines living in 19% of German houses. 

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