Wednesday 4 August 2021

Unconditional love the primary benefit of the human-cat relationship (and verbal communication is the primary benefit in the human-human relationship)

The long title sums up the summary of a study published on the website Psychological Reports and which is entitled Attachment to Feline Companions. The study coordinators used a mail survey of 100 adult cat owners to investigate the attachment of cat guardians with their companion animals. 54 of the participants were members of a nationwide computer cat club while 46 were attending a cat show in Anaheim, California. The participants were therefore committed cat people.

Jay Leno and his cat.  Screenshot.
Jay Leno and his cat.  Screenshot. Leno loves his cat and vice versa I'd say.

More than 90% of the participants said that they preferred cats to other companion animals because of the following:

  • Ease of care;
  • Affection and companionship;
  • Personality.

The positive characteristics of the cat companion were linked with attachment and people tended to put aside feline behaviours which they might find difficult.


A comparison between the benefits of the cat-human relationship compared to the human-human relationship indicates that the participants appreciated the affection and unconditional love of the former and verbal communication as the primary benefit in respect of the latter

As we all know, the study organisers concluded that cat companions can be a very important source of pleasure and emotional comfort.

This study was published on June 1, 1994. A subsequent study published in September 2, 2015 concluded that domestic cats do not show signs of secure attachment to their owners. They decided that cats were "typically quite autonomous even in their social relationships and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of security and safety."

The conclusions of the second study point to a one-sided relationship. The first study is about people appreciating the benefits of living with a companion and in the second study they seem to be saying that domestic cats do not appreciate the relationship quite as much as their owners.

The conclusion that I have is that studies about cats should not be entirely relied upon partly because they are conducted by people who often don't know cats that well or at all. Also, they frequently use questionnaires, and sending out questionnaires to people is fairly inaccurate at best.

Good cat guardians would say that they fully appreciate and rely on their cat companion's presence in their lives as a companion and as an excellent substitute for a human companion, very often. They will also state that they firmly believe that their cat loves them or at least demonstrates affection towards them. 

And that cats do appreciate the security and the general ambience and environment plus the food that there cat owner provides. The human-cat relationship is an interspecies relationship of which there are many. It is not just cats and people who become friends although that is the most common interspecies relationship together with the dog-human relationship.

You will see many dogs being friends with cats and cats being friends with squirrels and many other animals including deer et cetera. I believe that these are all genuine friendships. It looks that way to me. And if it looks like that it probably is that. We know that cats are sentient beings with feelings. It is a very short step from recognising that aspect of their being and behaviour to also accepting that they can make genuine friends, bonded through affection.

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