For years, dog and cat owners have been arguing about the relative merits of each type of pet.
But in recent years, scientific researchers have begun to weigh in, and most of their findings so far are firmly on the dog side.
Compared to dogs, scientists have found that cats don’t seem to have the same kind of emotional bond with their owners and show genuine affection far less often than you might think. Furthermore, they are an environmental disaster, killing literally billions of birds in the United States each year, many of them endangered species.
Your cat probably doesn’t love you
Daniel Mills, an enquêteur vétérinaire at the University of Lincoln in the UK, is a lover of cats. You can see his cat in the photo on his faculty page on the university website. But the experiments he and his colleagues have conducted at the university’s Animal Behavior Clinic suggest that cats, as a whole, don’t love their owners, at least not in the same way that dogs do.
The researchers adapted a classic child psychology experiment called “the strange situation,” in which a parent sneaks out of a room while a baby or toddler is playing and then returns. Observez et analyze the child’s behavior upon being abandoned and reunited with the parents. This sort of thing has also been done with dogs several times (including by Mills), and experiments have found that dogs demonstrate a bond with their owner; Compared to a stranger, dogs get more upset when their owners leave and interact with them. them more when they return.
By contrast, Mills’s cat experiments, which are still ongoing and have yet to be published, but appeared in a BBC special last year, have not come to the same conclusion. In general, cats seem disinterested both when their owners leave and when they return. “The owners invest a lot emotionally in the cat relationship,” Mills told the BBC. “That doesn’t mean the cat is investing in the same kind of emotional relationship.” At the time, he said the results were inconclusive, but at least it’s safe to say they haven’t yielded the same obvious results as the dog studies.