Cats don’t suffer separation anxiety; they’re just more independent, study finds

Well, thanks a lot science. Research now shows what smug dog owners have been saying for years, much to the chagrin of snooty cat owners.

Cats just don’t love their owners. Or, at least, not as much as they might hope, according to a new study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Many people love cats because, unlike dogs, they can live in small homes and be left alone for long periods. But there has been some suggestion that cats may suffer from separation anxiety; and, that the cat-human bond is actually similar to the bond between man’s best friend and even, the child-parent bond.

Scientists at the University of Lincoln decided to test this theory using 20 pairs of cats and owners. They left the cats alone in an unfamiliar room, with some toys, and to see what happens when the animal is reunited with its owner or a stranger. The authors, Daniel Mills and Alice Potter concluded:

“Although cats vocalised more when the owner rather the stranger left the cat with the other individual, there was no other evidence consistent with the interpretation of the bond between a cat and its owner meeting the requirements of a secure attachment.”

“These results are consistent with the view that adult cats are typically quite autonomous, even in their social relationships, and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety,” they added.


The authors also found that while some cats may be capable of forming very strong attachments, it’s not the norm. Still, cats do prefer their owners over a stranger. It’s just not clear if that’s the result of conditioning or an intrinsic psychological social need.

“It seems that what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration,” Prof. Mills said in a statement.

Photos Grumpy Cat/Facebook

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