Science Proves Dogs Need Us, Cats Not So Much

We’ve all heard the quips and quotations regarding the differences in how dogs and cats view the humans.

Dogs have masters. Cats have staff.

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.

Feline indifference has been fodder for endless jokes, and more than few extremely amusing videos. Now, science is chiming in with a study that explains why cats just don’t seem to care.

British researcher Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioral medicine at the University of Lincoln, modified the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST) to see if cats depend on humans for a general feeling of safety. SST, which was developed for babies and has been applied to dogs, measures how the presence of a primary caregiver contributes to a sense of security in a strange place. There were 20 cats and owners in the study, which has not yet been published.

“Our research is aimed at seeing whether cats are making that emotional commitment,” Mills said in an interview.

The scientists observed how the cats reacted in unfamiliar places, on their own, with a stranger, and with their owners. They examined such factors as attempts to maintain contact with people, vocalization, and signs of distress when left alone. These are all part of a phenomenon known as “secure attachment.” Children and dogs in the SST are generally clearly distressed when a caregiver leaves the room, and happy upon that person’s return. Cats did not display this kind of behavior.

Mills wrote, “the results of our study show that they are in fact much more independent than canine companions.”

In this video, human actors demonstrate the differences between cats and dogs, including some of the revelations from Professor Mills' research.


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