Cats do not need their owners to feel secure and safe, according to a new scientific survey by researchers at the University of Lincoln that was just published in the journal PLOS One. They concluded that cats, unlike dogs, do not need humans to feel protected, instead preferring to look after themselves.
“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,” said Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences.
“Previous research has suggested that some cats show signs of separation anxiety when left alone by their owners, in the same way that dogs do, but the results of our study show that they are in fact much more independent than canine companions.
“It seems that what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration.”
I call BS on that.
I’ve encountered a cat with separation anxiety firsthand, and there was no doubt–either from me or my vet–that he was demonstrating classic symptoms of the disorder. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve experienced a cat’s unbridled joy at seeing me return home from a trip.
To find out if a cat needed his owner to feel secure, the researchers observed how 20 cats reacted when they were placed in an unfamiliar environment together with their owners, with a stranger or on their own.
The study monitored the amount of contact sought by the cat, the level of passive behavior, and signs of distress caused by the absence of the owner.
“Although our cats were more vocal when the owner rather than the stranger left them with the other individual, we didn’t see any additional evidence to suggest that the bond between a cat and its owner is one of secure attachment,” added Professor Mills.
“This vocalization might simply be a sign of frustration or learned response, since no other signs of attachment were reliably seen.
“In strange situations, attached individuals seek to stay close to their carer, show signs of distress when they are separated and demonstrate pleasure when their attachment figure returns, but these trends weren’t apparent during our research.
Hubby read this and the first thing he said was, “They didn’t know Skeezix.”
Like humans, some cats are loners, but in my experience most form close bonds with their people. They are sentient, emotional beings who thrive on the love and nurturing of their owners.
I was pretty livid that the results of this tiny survey were published, since it promotes the idea that cats are set-it-and-forget-it pets who don’t require a lot of human interaction.
Cat require just as much love and attention as dogs, and I don’t need a scientific study to prove that hypothesis.