Your Cat Is As Loyal to You as a Dog, According to This Study

updated Oct 28, 2019
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When it comes to the ongoing debate of dogs versus cats, we stopped keeping score a long time ago. But, here’s a major point for the feline lovers: a recent study found that cats are just as loyal to their humans as dogs are.

Doggo devotees are unlikely to relinquish the rights to refer to their furry companions as “man’s best friend,” but a group of Oregon researchers gathered evidence that suggests cats are equally faithful. Sure, they’ve gained a reputation for being finicky and occasionally aloof creatures, plus there’s that bit about dog owners being happier than cat owners, but experts say felines will still go above and beyond for their biped buddies.

According to researchers from Oregon State University, cats, like dogs and children, form what are known as “secure attachments” to caregivers who make them feel a sense of calm and security. For the study, researchers used a situation tests that were designed in the 1970s to explore the bond between parents and infants. They then explored the relationships between 70 kittens, 30 adult felines and their owners. The findings—which were published in the journal Current Biology—revealed that the majority of the cats responded to being unexpectedly left alone in the same manner as dogs and children.

Of the 70 cats who spent two minutes in an unfamiliar room with their owners before being left alone for two minutes, 64.3% of the cats showed signs of “secure attachment,” only becoming more relaxed and willing to engage with their surroundings upon their owners’ return. The remaining cats either shunned their owners altogether or exhibited extreme clinginess after the brief isolation period, behavior the scientists describe as “insecure attachment.”

So aside from giving cat owners bragging rights, what should feline lovers keep in mind when it comes to sharing space with their loyal companions?

Dr. Kristyn Vitale, lead author of the study, emphasized the fact that cats rely on their owners for security when feeling stressed. “It’s important for owners to think about that. When they’re in a stressful situation, how they’re behaving can actually have a direct impact on their cats’ behavior.”