Cats have a reputation for being aloof, fiercely independent, and sometimes even a bit mean. So if you have a pet kitty, you might be wondering to yourself, “Does my cat love me? Like, really love me?” Well, we have some good news for you: Recent research shows the bond between a pet cat and its human is much stronger than we could have ever imagined.
A September 2019 study published in Current Biology found that domestic cats seem to bond with their owners much like human children do with their parents. Past studies have shown that human infants who relax when reunited with their caregivers after a brief absence in a new environment tend to be securely attached to those caregivers. Meanwhile, insecure infants may be excessively clingy or act anxious. Since similar tests have been done with pet dogs and their owners — showing many attachment bonds — the scientists involved with this study decided to run the same test with cats.
During the test, a cat spent two minutes in an unfamiliar room with its owner followed by two minutes alone. Then, the kitty and the owner had a two-minute reunion. The felines’ responses to seeing their fur moms and fur dads after the brief separation were then classified into attachment styles.
“Like dogs, cats display social flexibility in regard to their attachments with humans,” said study author Kristyn Vitale in a press release. “The majority of cats are securely attached to their owner and use them as a source of security in a novel environment.”
In humans, past research has shown 65 percent of babies are securely attached to their caregivers. Sure enough, this new study also classified about 65 percent of cats as securely bonded to their people. How heartwarming is that?
So the next time your cat knocks things off the table or straight-up ignores you when you try to snuggle, just know that deep down, your precious pet really does adore you. Kitties are just a bit strange when it comes to actually showing their love, that’s all! Want more proof? Check out these weird ways cats show affection — and how you can say “I love you” right back!