Good news for cat lovers and owners. A new study found that cats do form bonds with caretakers, the same ways dogs and babies do. Cat behavior was studied in both kittens and adult cats.
In a study conducted by Oregon State University, 70 kittens were put into a room with their owners. They were then separated and when they owners came back in, close to 64% of the kittens displayed attachment to their owners. Known as “secure attachment,” these cats create bonds with their owners. The study found that we have been underestimating cats social abilities and interactions.
Cats were evaluated in a similar way that dogs, humans and primates are. The “Secure Base Test,” as described above is also used to check attachment in dogs and primates. Attachment was also present in adult cats, with a 65% secure rate. Behaviors like separation distress, reunion behavior and proximity seeking were all present in cats. This is increased flexibility and depth of behavior from cats that was previously studied or thought to be present.
Coauthor Monique Udell said, “It suggests that some cats are bonding with us as caretakers.” Cat owners around the world will recognize their own cats behaviors as described in the study. Some cats are aloof, some attached and some cats have multiple behaviors within the course of a day or a week.
Attachment theory was first developed in the 1950s, and evaluates based on four attachment styles, secure, ambivalent, avoidant or disorganized. The cats were evaluated using this methodology. While many cats showed secure attachment, others showed ambivalent, avoidant or disorganized. Secure attachment means the animal is comforted by presence, avoidant is uninterested, ambivalent is clingy or overdependent and disorganized can show multiple types of behaviors.
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