In the well-known video of the cat defending a boy from a dog attack, I believe that the cat is a female cat who is treating the boy as one of her own offspring. She's defending her offspring from an attack and we know that female felines are incredibly courageous and put themselves in enormous danger when defending their offspring from danger.
There are very many videos on YouTube of mother cats defending their kittens from dogs and all manner of other animals and dangers.
The behaviour of this particular cat mirrors the kind of behaviour that mother cats make when defending their own and that is why I have the impression in this case that a strong bond has been formed between the boy and the cat in question such that cat, at an emotional level, is treating the boy as one of her own.
Update: 15th May 2014 -- I have just seen the BBC news and they confirm that cat is a female (Tara) and bonded with the boy soon after he was born. I am sure my theory is correct.
If it is not a case of a mother protecting her young then it will be a case of a cat protecting one of her or his associates. In cat expert language, “associates" refers to friends. You will often see cat friends grooming each other. This is an act of friendship.
I'm yet to see a video of cats that are friendly with each other defending one or the other from some third party attack. But as mentioned, I have seen a lot of videos of mothers defending their young.
Perhaps in this particular instance the family cat grew up with a new baby and the new baby became a boy and a connection between cat and boy was formed when the baby was introduced to the household. At that particular moment the cat developed an emotional attachment to the baby which mirrors the kind of attachment a mother cat has for her kittens.
The emotional response that she felt when she saw the boy being attacked by a dog was based upon an early attachment years ago. That is my initial theory, far-fetched though it might seem. I think it is possible and I think it puts the domestic cat in a fantastic light.
I sincerely hope that this video shuts up the very many detractors of the domestic cat who are too eager to unjustifiably criticise the domestic cat in the furtherance of their own interests.
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