A recent study suggests that cats genuinely like and appreciate their owners for who they are not just for being their main food providers. The study is about to debunk the millennia-old myth that cats are selfish and only tolerate their masters’ presence for the food.
The findings could help cat lovers finally win an argument with dog lovers over the emotional capabilities of their furry companions. So far, people preferred cats over dogs because they don’t smell as bad as dogs do, they don’t need walking, and are likely smarter than the canine species.
The new study implies that felines not only love humans but they prefer their company over food. The research that found cats genuinely like humans and not just for the food was conducted by a team of researchers at the Oregon State University and published in the journal Behavioral Processes Friday.
Study authors say they finally found evidence to dispel the myth that cats are innately antisocial and they are only capable of the so-called cupboard love. During the study, researchers subjected the animals to multiple tests to analyze their motivations.
Scientists took around 50 cats from their owners and shelters and kept them away from either food, toys, human contact, or scent for a few hours. Next, they used these factors to stimulate the animals and see what they like the most.
Surprisingly, in most situations, cats preferred human contact to any other stimuli. Researchers concluded that although the felines’ sociality is often skewed toward independency, half of the studied cats preferred interaction with humans over their preferred stimuli, including food and toys.
The study results, however, are at odds with past research which found that cats do not love their owners back or at least they don’t do it like dogs do. Past studies also found that cats are not as needy as dogs and small children are.
In a classic experiment called “the strange situation,” researchers asked several dog owners and a cat owners to slip out of an unfamiliar room where their dog or cat was and return later. The experiments showed that dogs became confused and disturbed when their owners left, while cats were more likely to start exploring the room like nothing happened. Those studies concluded that cats do not invest in their relationship with humans as humans invest in a cat relationship.
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