You’ve probably heard that cats don’t really understand the concept of time. But does that mean they don’t miss us?
The domestic cat: a mysterious feline
Humans and cats have had a special bond for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered and worshipped.
For many, spending long periods away from their feline sparks feelings of guilt and sadness. Put does your cat think about you as much as you think about him or her? Are you much more than a provider of food and kitty litter?
Tracie Hotchner, author of The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know, warns potential cat owners against leaving their pet alone for long periods. In her book, she says that the commonly accepted belief that cats don’t care if people are around is a myth.
For her, isolation can lead to depression and anxiety in cats. However, does this mean they want to spend time with their owner? Or just with anyone?
One study carried out tested just this. Feline interaction with strangers was observed and compared with interaction with owners, in three different ways.
It was found that, although cats were more vocal when their owner left, there was not enough evidence to prove a ‘secure attachment’ between owner and cat. In other words, cats seemed to like strangers just as much as their owners.
However, it must be noted that measuring cats’ attachment is not simple and their relationships are complex.
Dr Elizabeth Stelow of California University, told the Dodo that “a cat’s relationship can differ with different people in the same house, just as an owner’s relationship can be different with different cats in the household.”
Additionally, having analysed a number of studies on domestic cats in their book The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour, Bernstein and Friedmann concluded that “it is clear that…domestic cars and their owners have important social relationships”.
It is clear that these relationships are unique, depending on a range of factors. But further research needs to be done to establish the complexities of feline-human bonds.
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