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Kittens See Their Human Owners As Parents, Study Finds

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Kittens See Their Human Owners As Parents, Study Finds

Cats usually get a reputation for being independent and not emotionally attached to their owners, unlike dogs. But a new study has found that actually, most kittens see their human caregivers as their parents.

Researchers from Oregon State University have found that most kittens form an attachment to their owners the same way children do to their parents and dogs do to their owners/caregivers.

In an experiment where cats aged between three and eight months old were left for two minutes by their owners and then reunited with them for two minutes, 64 per cent of the kittens displayed "secure attachment" behaviour. This means that the kittens were less stressed and sought close contact with their owners once they returned.

Kittens have been proven to miss their owners and become attached to them like children. (Credit: Unsplash/Freddie Marriage)
Kittens have been proven to miss their owners and become attached to them like children. (Credit: Unsplash/Freddie Marriage)
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The other 36 per cent of kittens surveyed displayed an "insecure attachment style," meaning they weren't emotionally affected by their owners leaving or returning.

"The current data supports the hypothesis that cats show a similar capacity for the formation of secure and insecure attachments towards human caregivers previously demonstrated in children," the study confirmed.

What's more is this attachment doesn't go away once kittens have matured. The study also concluded that cats, if they are attached to their owners, will remain so, just like dogs do.

A cat enjoying a chin tickle from its owner. (Credit: Unsplash/Yerlin Matu)
A cat enjoying a chin tickle from its owner. (Credit: Unsplash/Yerlin Matu)
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"These results indicate that although social reinforcement is likely a factor that contributes to the development of an attachment style, once an attachment style has been established between the members of a dyad, it appears to remain relatively stable over time, even after a training and socialization intervention," the study said.

The UK is a nation of pet lovers, with cat parents spending on average £20 a month on treats and toys alone for their beloved fur babies. That explains why Aldi thought it was a smart move to introduce a hanging egg chair for cats this summer.

And dog owners are thought to spend around £60 a month on toys and treats for their pooch.

Pets have helped lots of us throughout lockdown, and now there are concerns that our pets could get separation anxiety now that things are returning back to normality. But for those of us working from home, this womaninvented a special desk chair so your fur baby can be close to you as you work.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash/Kote Puerto

Topics: Animals, Cats

Laura Sanders
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