Cats can be cold to their owners, but it turns out some are just as attached as babies and dogs.
A study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and published in the academic journal Current Biology investigated how kittens react to their owners. It looked at the stress levels of kittens when interacting with people and aligned them with four traits: secure; ambivalent; avoidant; and disorganised.
While many would expect cats to be ambivalent, it turns out the majority of the kittens involved in the study had similar maternal reactions to babies and puppies.
The study found that most kittens had a ‘reduced stress response’ when owners returned after leaving a room. This would align the animals with a secure attachment. To conduct this experiment, kittens aged four to eight months would spend two minutes with their caretaker before the caretaker would leave for two minutes and come back again.
64% of the cats had a secure attachment style, just like babies. As a result, the study concluded kittens are just as attached to human caregivers as dogs are.
However, the remaining 36% of kittens did not have their stress levels fluctuate. With this in mind, there’s still a decent chance that a kitten will be ambivalent towards you.
The study noted:
The current data supports the hypothesis that cats show a similar capacity for the formation of secure and insecure attachments towards human caregivers previously demonstrated in children.
It seems that if a kitten takes a shining to you this will carry on throughout its life, with the study explaining, ‘Cat attachment style appears to be relatively stable and is present in adulthood.’
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