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]
What Your Cat Wants You to Know
PHOTOS: Bo and Other Presidential Dogs