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Most cats are as needy as dogs, study concludes

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A study carried out by Oregon State University reveals that two thirds of cats exhibit the same sort of loyalty seen of dogs and children. That may come as a shock to those who think cats can take or leave human contact.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 25/09/2019, 16:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:40

Dr Kristyn Vitale of OSU studied the behaviour of 70 cats. Each was placed one at a time in a room with their owner. The cat and its owner were allowed two minutes of together time. The owner was then asked by the researchers to leave the room again for two minutes.

The behaviour of the cat was studied when the owner finally came back into the room.


Dr Vitale found that 64.3% of feline subjects showed signs of what she called “secure attachment”. In other words, two thirds of the cats were more settled in the presence of their owner than when left alone.

That mirrors the results of previous research which suggests 65% of children and 58% of dogs are similarly attached to their parents or owners.

Writes The Sun, the long-standing notion that all cats are aloof and not as needy as dogs is a fallacy. The majority of cats are as reliant on human contact as dogs.

Vitale said: “Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof. There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave in this way. But the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security.

Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed.”

Stressed cats

Of those cats that did not exhibit “secure attachment” the behaviour was altogether more closeted. The remainder were, “stressed, licking their lips and twitching their tail. Many became clingy but others completely avoided their owner,” according to The Sun.

Your cat may show its unhappiness in a variety of other ways: not using its litter tray correctly, being sick or otherwise with a poorly tummy, and grooming itself excessively may all be signs of a stressed kitty.