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Study: How attached are cats to their owners?

7:28 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Between Grumpy Cat and Animal Planet's series 'My Cat From Hell' there aren't many stories of loving, cuddly cats being shared. Cat owners will both defend and spin great tales about their cat's quirky, entitled and even cunning behavior.

One professor in the United Kingdom is getting social attention on his research into how attached cats are to their owners. A YouTube video shows the research project from Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine and head of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the University of Lincoln.

The video, published in June, is making the rounds on Reddit. Cat owners are commenting on their own cat's attitude in comparison to the research.

Mills' research as shown on the video puts cats and dogs through the "Strange Situation" paradigm. The animals are put in a room with their owner and a stranger. The animal's behavior with owner and stranger is observed. Then the owner slips out when their pet's attention is elsewhere.

This test was first developed by psychologists to determine how children attach securely to their parents, says Max Wachtel 9NEWS Psychologist.

The dogs search for their owners when they notice he or she has left the room. They then are excited and happy when the owner comes back in.

According to Wachtel this study shows that dogs have a similar attachment style to children, and they "attach" or "love" their owners the same way children attach to and love their parents. Thus, if treated poorly, dogs can have similar reactions to children like PTSD, anger, aggressiveness, etc.

Cats, on the other hand, don't seem to mind at all when their owners leave the room. They don't seem to care much when the owners return either.

According to Wachtel, cats appear to have an "anxious avoidant" attachment style, which means they do not care whether their owners are present or not. Children with this attachment style will be stressed and uncomfortable whether their parents are close by or not. They will not see the parents as a source of emotional stability or as a soothing presence in their lives. They will grow up and have difficulty attaching to other people, so forming friendly and romantic relationships will be difficult. They will also have problems with being manipulative and seeing other humans as a 'provider of resources' or only as a 'means to an end.'

Mills' study hasn't been published yet. Watch the video and then be honest in the comments. Are you surprised by the results?

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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