Cats Like People! (Some People, Anyway)

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In the perennial battle over dogs and cats, there’s a clear public relations winner. Dogs are man’s best friend. They’re sociable, faithful and obedient. Our relationship with cats, on the other hand, is often described as more transactional. Aloof, mysterious and independent, cats are with us only because we feed them. Or maybe not. On Monday, researchers reported that cats are just as strongly bonded to us as dogs or infants, vindicating cat lovers across the land. “I get that a lot — ‘Well, I knew that, I know that cats like to interact with me,’” said Kristyn Vitale, an animal behavior scientist at Oregon State University and lead author of the new study, published in Current Biology. “But in science, you don’t know that until you test it.” Research into cat behavior has lagged that into dogs. Cats are not social animals, many scientists assumed — and not as easy to work with. But recent studies have begun to plumb the depth of cats’ social lives.Next we have a list of the Best Breeds for Indoor House Cats:

Their Wild Side

In cats — as in infants and dogs — researchers still do not know all of the factors that shape the caretaker relationship, but it’s likely a complex mix of genetics, personality and experience. It is possible that even more cats are securely bonded to their owners than the new study found, said Mikel Delgado, an animal behavior researcher at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the research. Unlike dogs and infants, many cats spend nearly all of their time inside, so being in a new environment can be a foreign and frightening experience, she said. For some cats, a fearful response to a stressful situation may take precedence over a secure bond with an owner, so the study results may not fully capture the attachments of some cats. Testing cats’ responses to strangers, rather than to just their owners, might reveal whether cats are truly bonded to a specific person or are sociable toward humans in general, Dr. Delgado added. Dr. Vitale and her colleagues plan to delve more deeply into cats’ relationships with people, and to test whether specific interventions can help shelter cats form early bonds that help them feel more secure and get adopted more quickly. “The more we find out about cats, the more we’re seeing that they are social creatures and that social bonds are really important for them,” she said.

Cats Article
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