Our research on cat-human attachment bonds was recently published in Current Biology. We found that cats display distinct attachment styles toward their owners. These styles are the same styles that human infants and dogs display toward their caregivers. As seen in this video, secure cats use their owner as a source of security and comfort and are able to freely explore the room while the owner is present. Insecure cats do not use their owner as a secure base and instead either cling to their owner’s side or avoid the owner. Similar to findings with infants and dogs, the majority of kittens and cats (~65%) were securely attached to their caregiver. Half the kittens also participated in a 6-week training and socialization class, but cat attachment styles did not significantly change after the class. This indicates cat-human attachment may be relatively stable once established.
Vitale, K. R., Behnke, A. C., & Udell, M. A. R. (2019). Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Current Biology, 29(18), R864–R865. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.036
New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 30, 2016
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A big part of cats’ lives are spent around their human owners, yet scientists are just starting to understand what they think of us
In my last post I introduced the topic of cat cognition and what we broadly know about how these animals think. In this post I’m going to talk more specifically about what we understand about cats’ interactions with the animal they spend most time with: us….
New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 29, 2016
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Cats are often depicted as being less friendly, cooperative and caring than dogs, but what’s really going on in your cat’s head?
Unsurprisingly, scientists use dogs in behavioural experiments a lot more often than cats. There are whole ‘canine cognition’ lab groups and conferences, which has led to a much greater understanding of our canine friends (see for example the blog ‘Dog Spies’). Cats are generally less cooperative and more nervous in social situations, meaning it’s difficult to use them in experiments. However, a recent paper in Animal Cognition by Shreve & Udell at Oregon State University reviewed what we do know about our (sometimes unfriendly) friends regarding how they think. I’m going to divide what we know about cat cognition into two main areas over two posts: firstly, what we know about cat cognition per se and secondly cat cognition that relates to their relationship with humans…..