Good cat owners are more dependent on their cats

A study by UC Berkely and California State University, East Bay, concluded that cat owners who’d be described as overprotective parents (in relation to their children) were the best personality types for cat caretaking. They described these parents are exhibiting “anxious attachment” compared to “avoidance attachment” (a principle of human attachment theory). Over-protectiveness equates to high levels of concern resulting in more committed cat ownership.

People who score highly on anxious attachment tend to require reassurance from their kids or companion animal. Therefore they are more dependent on their cat. In the survey this tended to apply to younger people who preferred cats.

‘Helicopter parenting of cats’ is good because a cat depends on the care and attention of their human guardian throughout his life, whereas children need to be taught independence. Over-protectiveness can hold back the development of a child in becoming independent minded.

People whose behavior in relation to the objects of their affection displayed ‘anxious attachment’ tended to be more conscientiously neurotic but also more creative and adventurous. In contrast dog owners were more extroverted and less open to new experiences. This supports previous research in a 2010 study by University of Texas psychologist Sam Gosling.

Of the 1,000 people in the study who came from Reddit, Facebook and Graigslist, 40% said they like cats and dogs equally, 38% preferred dogs and 19% preferred cats. I wonder why there are more cats than dogs in the USA. It can only be because there are many multi-cat households.

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5 thoughts on “Good cat owners are more dependent on their cats”

  1. Not sure what to make of the findings of that study. I guess it depends on our own interpretation of the phrase “over-protective”.

    As my cats are allowed outside unsupervised during the day if they want, I’m sure that would rule me out as being over-protective. However when it comes to their health, I am a mother-hen and take them to the vet at the first sign of illness or unusual behavioural changes. Many years ago I took a cat to the vet, worried about a couple of lumps I could feel in her lower abdomen. He was kind enough to keep a straight face when he explained those “lumps” were her kidneys.

    • I think you don’t fit accurately into the group of people described because it has to be a sliding scale – a spectrum of personality types. My guess is (like me) you are anxious when you have to be and disciplined enough not to be anxious when they go outside. I feel like I manage my anxiety about my cat. I rationalise things. Logic over instinct. I think you’re a bit like that. The study does not accommodate these subtleties it seems or I am not aware that it does.

      • I think you’re right Michael. It does depend on the personality of the owner and perhaps how anthropomorphic they feel about their cat.

        I try not to worry too much when they go out, by reminding myself that cats are intelligent and being semi-wild, still retain their survival instincts.

        • Outside of your home presents all kinds of unknown and unknowable dangers. Some people are willing to take more chances with their pets than others. People do the same with children.

          I prefer to minimize the risks with my cat, and also with myself.

          Examples are: I avoid commuter traffic. I avoid driving into the setting sun, which is blinding and has caused many accidents. I avoid driving in the rain, since there’s an increase in accidents. I buy organic produce to reduce toxin my body. I give Mitzy high quality food for her health. I avoid VETS, also for her health. I don’t feed her on the kitchen counter….for my health! I learn all I can in order to make informed decisions about her and myself. Do I have a “control issue”? Over-protective of her health and mine? Maybe that’s what some might call it.
          I call it being “responsible”.

  2. As a parent of two sons born in 1963/64, I was not “overly protective”. However, I was aware and involved.

    My husband was much more overly protective, and a worrier.

    I never imposed a curfew on them. I just asked where they were going. My husband would wait up for them to get home, while I went to sleep. They were always home at a decent hour, usually midnight or 1pm.

    They never got into any kind of trouble with drugs, alcohol, or pregnancy. (As my husband had!)

    They grew into wonderful caring parents that I’m proud of.

    Now that I’m retired and live far from both of them, my life revolves around a little cat named Mitzy. Since I’m with her most of the time, I’m very aware and attuned to her behavior. I guess you might say I’m “over-protective”, especially now that I’m learning more about the pet food and veterinary industries.

    When I was working, I had 2 cats, but in those days, I couldn’t spend much time with them, and wasn’t privy to their behavior except when I was home. I fed Friskies and some poor quality dry food, only because I didn’t know any better.

    They were indoor/outdoor cats, and always in at night. They lived to be 13 and 14, but maybe with better food, they would have lived longer lives.
    They hardly ever went to the vet.

    Mitzy was born to a stray, and lived on the street as a semi-feral for 2 years. She didn’t have a good start, and although I’m trying to give her the best food and care I can, she’s been in and out of the vet’s for constipation and ear issues.

    I’m very protective of her with vets. She’s had severe reactions to drugs, and I’m very leery about taking her to the vet’s.

    I’m also protective about chemicals and other things in the house that might harm her, from my roommates who are totally “unaware” of cat sensitivities and stressors.

    So, I’ve become over-protective, and might even be the same with children if they were around.


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