Study Finds Cats May Be Just As Affectionate As Dogs

by Erica Gerald Mason
Linda Raymond/Getty

Our fur babies responded to their humans carefully, study finds

Our fur family is just as important as our human family. Sometimes more. Your dog would never tell you that your obsession with Jason Momoa is futile. He sincerely thinks you have a shot. Same with cats. They love you so much that they won’t judge you for watching Friends on repeat. They’ll snuggle in close with you for the millionth time as you watch Ross fly to the UK to almost marry that okay British woman in a gorgeous piper of rubble. Cats forgive you. It turns out that they are hard-wired to do so.

A recent study, published in Current Biology, found our cats have distinct attachment styles toward their human family in the same way dogs and babies do. Cats love their people, even though they might not always act like it.

The research is presented by a team at Oregon State University. The study found that 64 percent of cats showed what is known as a “secure” attachment style, meaning they showed no signs of distress when their fam left the room and a healthy mix of attachment, bonding, and exploration when they returned to their owners.

The other percentage, about 35, showed insecure attachment, which means they were stressed until their owners returned, and when they did return, they displayed a mix of excessive contact with their family, avoidant behavior or disorganized behavior.

This tracks. Anyone who has had their pet pout because you dared close the door to the bathroom as you pee knows what’s up. Some animals take the ‘companion’ part of ‘companion animal’ very seriously.

What’s adorable is how the scientists categorize some behavior as ‘disorganized.’ Which is what we can only imagine is very fancy research-speak for ‘shitting angrily in your shoes as a form of protest slash punishment for the offense of taking out the trash.’

The researchers closely monitored 70 kittens and 38 cats for the study. (Why are we never picked for this type of study?) Handlers placed the fur babies in a room with their owner for two minutes before removing them for the same amount of time. The scientists recorded the cats’ behavior and took note of the animals’ reactions.

Maybe the scientists can program what this virtual cat’s reaction would be to passerby,

Any time researchers would like to call us, we’d be happy to spend an afternoon hanging out with little kitties. For science, of course.