Cats might actually be as attached to their owners as dogs

Cats and cat lovers can all shout 'I told you so!' as scientific research indicates they're just as needy as dogs

Cats might be as attached to their owners as dogs. Photo of a cute cuddly fluffy ginger cat.
(Image credit: Konstantin Aksenov / EyeEm/Getty Images)

Cats are often regarded as aloof, independent, uncaring creatures—whereas dogs are seen as man's best friend. However, a recent research project has indicated that despite popular belief, cats are just as needy as their canine counterparts.

Cat lovers all over the planet aren't that surprised by this research, which backs up another scientific study that says cats aren’t selfish—they’re just confused.

This study, from Oregan State University, focused on the attachment styles of cats and was reported in Current Biology.

During the course of this study, a team of researchers examined the traits of 70 kitten and 38 cat subjects—looking at how they behaved both with and without their human caregivers.

Amazingly, they found that the felines show a similar capacity to form secure and insecure attachments with their human caregivers as dogs and even children!


The experiment used by the researchers is called an "attachment test," and saw the furry friends put in a room with their owners for two minutes. After this, the owners left their cat for a further two minutes. 

When they were reunited, researchers observed and categorized the cats' behavior in relation to several specific attachment styles—secure, insecure, ambivalent, and disorganized.

"Upon the caregiver’s return from a brief absence, individuals with secure attachment display a reduced stress response and contact-exploration balance with the caretaker," explains the study.

"Whereas individuals with an insecure attachment remain stressed and engage in behaviors such as excessive proximity-seeking (ambivalent attachment), avoidance behavior (avoidant attachment), or approach/avoidance conflict (disorganized attachment)."

Researchers found that around 65% of the cats, both young and older, exhibited a secure attachment style. This means that they showed signs of distress when their owners left the room and a "reduced stress response"—in other words, a healthy mix of attachment and exploration when they returned.

Cats might be as attached to their owners as dogs! Photo of a young woman playing with a fluffy cat.

(Image credit: Johner Images/Getty Images)

Animal charities reported a surge in pet adoptions during the pandemic. There was even a virtual cat and dog adoption event and there's no denying that pets helped countless people survive the lockdown.

However, many experts have expressed concerns over pets' separation anxiety post-lockdown. As well as this, in the run-up to Christmas, some newer cat owners might not know about cat-proof Christmas trees and the flowers and plants that are poisonous to our feline friends.

Aoife Hanna


Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with over 1500 bylines and a background in creative writing, comedy and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the soon-to-be-published Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.