The Science of Women and Cats: The Bond Is Real

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The kittehs love us back! A new study demolishes the stereotype of cats as cold, aloof animals that want only food from their owners. The study also reinforces the idea that a special bond exists between females and felines.

In research to be published in the journal Behavioural Processes, scientists observed the interactions between 41 cats and their human families during lengthy four-part periods. Researchers noted all behaviors of both cats and humans, and also assessed their personalities as well as their influence over one another. (More on Time.com: Why You Shouldn’t Snuggle with Your Pooch in Bed)

What they saw was not just cold, food-seeking behavior on the part of the kitties, but real attachment to their owners. The researchers observed a mutual social interaction in which both cats and humans signaled to each other when they wanted to pet or be petted.

Like our human friends, cats keep track. They were more likely to respond to owners’ needs, if their owners had previously responded to theirs. Discovery News reports:

Cats also seem to remember kindness and return the favors later. If owners comply with their feline’s wishes to interact, then the cat will often comply with the owner’s wishes at other times. The cat may also “have an edge in this negotiation,” since owners are usually already motivated to establish social contact.

While men certainly got along with their cats, researchers saw more interactions between women and their animals, finding that cats were more likely to approach women than men and to do things like jump on their laps to initiate contact. Study author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News that women’s relationships with their cats were also “more intense.” (More on Time.com: Pet Detective: A Dog that Sniffs Out Colon Cancer)

Be careful, however, that the relationship isn’t too intense, as happened to this unfortunate woman, below (warning: adult language):

[via BBC Comedy]

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4 comments
barbaras.gwen
barbaras.gwen

We have three cats and a dog, but with all of them, there is nobody there are more attached to than my daughter. She's in her early 20s now and travels a lot so she isn't even here most of the year, but when she is, they just love her. Two of the cats won't even sit on anyone else's lap, but all she has to do it look at them, smile, and wave them over. The dog we got when she was in college, but even he seems to be in love with her now. One time I was Skyping with her when she was on a trip abroad last year, and one of the cats heard her voice and came bounding over to the laptop. When she's home, a lot of times it's like she has a little parade of pets following her around the house, and when she's working at her desk they tend to all sit around her room and hang out. I've never seen anything quite like it, and she always insists that she never did anything but "be nice to them".

Carrie
Carrie

I'm 28 yrs old and 8 months pregnant. I've noticed my female cat is so attached  to me, she needs to be touching me when i'm around her. i get up often throughout the night and she follows me to and from the bathroom running beside me. i can't lock her out of my room cause she won't give up at the door and she's loud. when i push her away in bed, she ends up sleeping on my pillow wrapped around my head. If i shut her in my room and i go away, she meows and scratches the door so loud even if someone is here with her. I've been warned by my sister-in-law that the cat might take swipes at my baby out of jealousy. I won't know til he is born. But her undevoted attachment is unlike anything I've experienced with any other pet I've owned, and theirs been several.

Amatyi1
Amatyi1

@Carrie  My cat did the same thing when I was pregnant. The cat always liked me but she was more aloof before I was pregnant and more my mom's cat. When I was pregnant though she followed me everywhere and slept on top of me. She was always in my lap and if I pushed her away she just came right back. After Jess was born she kept the same attachment to me and was devoted to Jess as well. When I would fall asleep with Jess on the couch I would have Jess on one side and Fluffy on the other. She didn't show any jealousy it was just like she realized that since I was having a "litter" I must be a better person because of it and she loved me more for it lol.