The results of a study posted September 23 in Current Biology showed cats think of their person in the same manner as a child thinks of a parent. But we knew that before the study, didn’t we?
Researchers used an attachment test that has previously been used on primates and dogs. Seventy kittens were put into a room with their caregiver for two minutes. Then the caregiver left the room for two minutes before returning. The results indicated that more than 60 percent of the kittens were distressed when their caregiver left and were happy when the caregiver returned and bounced back to their usual happy demeanor. But roughly 30 percent remained stressed even after their person returned.
The results were similar to secure and insecure attachment styles found with testing results for human children. The kittens were re-tested two months later and showed similar results and with 38 adult cats tested one year later.
Some of the cats displayed vocal indications of being in distress without their person. The entire study can be found by clicking here.
One anonymous veterinarian wrote this post that was shared by Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital & 24hr Emergency Service. The post has been shared over 80,000 times
I see a lot of conversations on Facebook where people ask whether it would be okay for a cat to be left by itself at home while the owner takes an extended trip away from the home. The results from the study suggest NOT. Cat’s are as bonded every bit as bonded with their ‘parent’ as dogs are known to be.
It’s heartbreaking to think of a cat becoming an ‘owner surrender’ at the local shelter and the owner thinking the cat will be fine and will be quickly adopted. That’s not the case at all. Many shelters, even if they’re ‘no kill’ have to deal with an abandoned cat shutting down from emotionally triggered illnesses.
A few years ago, when our cat Lola was at the vet clinic for a minor illness, a vet tech took her around the corner to get her weight. She went into a panic as soon as she rounded the corner and we were out of her line of sight. I was peeking around the corner at the time and she calmed as soon as she saw me.
So….do your cats think of you as a parent and you think of your cat as a child? Please feel free to tell your story in the comment section.
Additional reading here.
Note: I’ve chosen to use this photo of Renny because he isn’t happy anytime I’m out of his sight. The expression on his face at the vet was telling me “don’t leave me mom.” He’s the most emotionally needy of all our cats. He sleeps across my stomach almost every night.