Although some cats don’t seem to connect with their caregivers, others do bond in some ways, according to a new study. Researchers now believe that this trait doesn’t just belong to dogs, as prior research indicated.
To investigate the relationship between humans and cats they used the same test that has been used for cats and babies, called a secure base test. “The cats and kittens would individually spend two minutes in a room with their owner and caregiver. Then, the person would leave the room for two minutes, followed by a two minute reunion.” Insecure cats showed signs of stress, like twitching tails, licking lips, avoiding their owners or jumping into their laps and not moving. However, around 65% of the cats and kittens were actually found to have a secure bond with their owners. This shows that some adult cats can have a stable relationship with their owners and not just with their kittens. Kittens that went through a six-week socialization training course didn’t change their bonds with their owners.
In contrast, the researchers did human attachment behavior studies, and looked at how babies respond to separation from their parents or caregiver. When babies reunited with their parents or caregivers after a short absence, securely bonded babies returned to exploring their surroundings in a calm way. About 65% of babies have a secure attachment. Insecurely attached babies, on the other hand, either avoided their parents or stuck to them.
After concluding that cats can connect to their owners, researchers hope that because of this study fewer cats get put in shelters. This research was supported by a Nestle Purina sponsorship, researching the emotional well-being of cats and dogs.