Study Says Go Ahead And Leave, Your Cat Doesn’t Care

A new study from the University of Lincoln found that cats do not need their owners for comfort or safety.

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This cat is not looking longingly out the window for his owner. He's daydreaming about the cat next door. Claritoneve/iStock/Thinkstock
This cat is not looking longingly out the window for his owner. He's daydreaming about the cat next door. Claritoneve/iStock/Thinkstock

If you worry that your cat doesn’t miss you when you’re not home, you’re right. Not only is your cat not leaning against the front door, longing for your return, but he also doesn’t need you to comfort him or to make him feel safe. (It’s OK if you need to sit down for a second, take a deep breath or two).

That’s the verdict from two animal behavior researchers at the University of Lincoln, who have recently published a self-explanatory study called “Domestic Cats Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners.”

The researchers tested their theory by watching how 20 different cats reacted when they were taken to an unfamiliar environment, either with their owner, with a stranger or alone. They watched to see how much contact the cat would make with the owner or stranger, the level of passive behavior — standing, sitting or lying down — and signs of distress, and ultimately determined that the cats weren’t exactly despondent when their owners left.

"Oh goodie. You're home." flyingrussian/iStock/Thinkstock

“Oh goodie. You’re home.” flyingrussian/iStock/Thinkstock

“In strange situations, attached individuals seek to stay close to their carer, show signs of distress when they are separated and demonstrate pleasure when their attachment figure returns, but these trends weren’t apparent during our research,” study author Daniel Mills told The Telegraph.

So, in other words, cats are not as likely to lose it when you leave, like your dog might do.

“For pet dogs, their owners often represent a specific safe haven; however it is clear that domestic cats are much more autonomous when it comes to coping with unusual situations,” Mill said.

Cat expert Celia Haddon says that owners shouldn’t feel extra heartbroken right now, because that does not mean that their cats don’t love them.

Cats are like, "uh no." Via Allen Back/YouTube

Cats are like, “LOL no.” Via Allen Back/YouTube

“Cats are not pack animals, they don’t depend on other cats. So they are not going to depend on their owners,” she told The Telegraph. “But it doesn’t meant that they don’t want to be around their owners.”

Fine, cat. I can play hard to get, too. Just see if I notice when you’re not on the sofa with m–hey, wait, please come back! Please?

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  • This article is total BS. My male cat Little Dexter is either waiting by the door or the window for me to return home. If I am gone for a couple of days, he stops eating and just stares out the window (so I have been told by my car sitter),. When I am getting ready to travel and I bring out my suitcase to pack…Little Dexter throws up when he spots the suitcase. Or, another occasion, when I was standing out in the driveway talking with a friend, Little Dexter first just watched through the window but when he figured I had been out there long enough, he stands on his back legs and takes his paw and knocks on the window until I come in. I know my cat misses me. Maybe you just tested some lame cats that had not bonded with their humans.

    Kathy Anne September 5, 2015 4:53 pm Reply

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