Turns Out, Cats Are Just As Loyal To Their Humans As Dogs

by Julie Scagell
Adam Kuylenstierna/Unsplash

During the experiment, cats exhibited “secure attachments” when their owners returned to the room — just like dogs

Cat lovers, rejoice. Scientists just found out what most of us kitty owners have known all along — cats bond to their humans and can be just as loyal as dogs.

Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” and let’s be honest — dogs deserve All Of The Praise we give them because they are floofy and awesome and we do not deserve them. But a recent study’s findings — which were published in the journal Current Biology — found our feline furballs respond in much the same way as dogs if unexpectedly left by themselves.

A group of Oregon State University researchers found that cats form “secure attachments” to their caregivers and feel a sense of security from them. For the study, researchers used testing designed in the 1970s to explore the bond between parents and infants but used it on 70 kittens, 30 adult cats, and their owners.

What they found was, for the 70 cats who spent two minutes in an unfamiliar room with their owners before being left alone for that same timeframe, 64.3 percent of the cats showed signs of “secure attachment,” meaning they were visibly more relaxed and willing to explore their surroundings once their owners returned.

The remaining cats exhibited “insecure attachment,” meaning they “shunned their owners altogether or exhibited extreme clinginess” or poisoned their coffee after the two-minute separation, which cat owners will also not find surprising the least. Fine, the coffee part was a lie but, then again, they didn’t test my cat.

Dr. Kristyn Vitale, lead author of the study, emphasized that cats, much like dogs, rely on their humans for feelings of security. “It’s important for owners to think about that. When they’re in a stressful situation, how they’re behaving can actually have a direct impact on their cats’ behavior. Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof,” she said. “There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave in this way. But the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security.”

How they punish you after your return is entirely up to them, and, from personal experience, usually much more imaginative than dogs.

In similar research, 65 percent of kids and 58 percent of puppies showed similar signs of secure attachment to parents and owners. Cats have notoriously gotten a bad wrap because of their general asshole behavior, but that’s exactly what endears them to many. They will love humans on their terms when they feel like it. But it doesn’t mean they don’t need them. Now, science proved it. It’s nice to know they love us. They really, really love us.