You might think we know everything there is to know about cats. After all, you can find us felines all over the world, and everyone knows we rule the internet. There are entire sites dedicated to us, a whole category of memes, and endless social media accounts. But research into cats is woefully lacking.
As far as pets go, dogs get all the attention. Not just when it comes to the medical stuff, but also behavioral studies. We’ve talked about the latter before, when scientists found that cats know their own names (duh), but now we have more and more “evidence” showing that we actually care about our humans. Well, most of us, anyway.
Among other outlets, the New York Times reports on a study that suggests cats bond with their humans in similar numbers as dogs and even babies do. If you haven’t read about it, the test consisted of leading the feline and their human into a room, then have the “owner” leave after a couple of minutes. The scientists observed the kitties’ reactions when the humans returned, and found that two thirds of them exhibited a secure relationship with their tall, bipedal staff.
In other words, they felt safe around them. Their presence allowed them to explore the strange room freely, and they would return to their human anchor periodically to get reassurance. What the study shows is that we form bonds, something all cat lovers probably know.
But perhaps the most interesting tidbits in that NYT article is that kitties “adjust their behavior” based on how much attention we are paid, and that we prefer interacting with bipedal folk to playing with toys or eating food. Love us and we’ll love you back. Treat us like babies and you’ll be our parents.
As additional studies are conducted, we all stand to gain a better understanding of cats and our relationship with humans. In time, we might even shed this unflattering image of aloofness that has plagued our PR efforts for so long. We’re a sweet bunch, y’all.