You love your cat. Trouble is, your cat doesn't love you.
A new study by researchers from the Animal Behaviour Cognition and Welfare Group at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln proves once and for all that honestly, your cat does not care when or if you ever come home.
Your children care.
Dogs also care.
Cats couldn’t give two hoots.
The researchers applied what is known as the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST) which "has been widely used to demonstrate that the bond between both children and dogs to their primary carer".
The test has routinely proved over many years that dogs and children have what is known as a “secure attachment” to their primary carer. Dogs and children understand that you, as carer or owner, will protect and love them. They will come to you for comfort when scared; they don’t like it when you leave, and they are thrilled when you return.
The cat/owner bond is, in the words of the researchers, much more “questionable”.
The researchers developed “an adapted version” of the test to suit cats, who, it seems, weren’t all that interested in taking the regular test.
They stuck 20 cats in a room with both an owner, and a very similar looking stranger. The owner and the stranger sat on identical chairs, equidistant to each other.
It was something of a debacle from the start, because “two cat subjects (1 male neutered, 6 years old, 1 female neutered 2 years old) hid during an entire experimental testing period and were therefore removed from the data analysis”.
Also in the room: three cat toys (two balls and a string and rod toy) and a video camera on a tripod.
The study showed “there were no significant differences in the duration of time cats spent playing with their owner compared to playing with the stranger”.
In addition “there was no significant difference in the amount cats played with the stranger when the owner was present”.
The cats mewled a bit when their owner left the room, but there was “no significant difference” in their response to the owner coming back, compared to the stranger coming back.
The researchers concluded that “generally cats do not appear to attach to owners as a focus of safety and security in the same way that dogs do or children do”.
The researchers, who may include cat owners, said: “We do not reject that some cats might form this type of attachment in certain circumstances, nor do we wish to imply that cats do not form some form of affectionate social relationship or bond with their owners” but, in general, it seemed like the cats basically couldn't care less whether you live or die. Just so you know.