Cats or Dogs? This is a familiar question you might ask, or have been asked.
To many of us, dogs are the obvious answer; they’re friendly and sociable, while cats are aloof and intolerant. Simple, right? Actually, recent studies done on these beloved family pets prove otherwise!
Researchers at Oregon State University conducted the study, proving that cats are just as capable, if not more than dogs, of bonding with their owners!
Cats: Where It All Began
It’s hard to imagine that cats came from the mighty lions and jungle tigers. Did our ancestors really feed these wildcats some meat to domesticate them?
Actually, scientists say that cats are descendants of the Middle Eastern Wildcat (Felis silvestris). And there was no meat involved in taming these animals; scientists say the wildcats tamed themselves and gradually took to hanging around our ancestors.
Ten thousand years ago, the wildcats began wandering into farming villages within modern-day Turkey, attracted by the many rodents. As a result, the wildcats naturally gravitated toward humans; where there were people, there was food! As the cats grew tamer, they began to spread to Europe, Asia, and Africa.
There were other branches of domesticated cats, notably from Egypt, that occasionally crossbred. If you were to search up the original wildcats, you would notice that they share a strong resemblance to today’s domesticated cats. That’s because our ancestors never needed to put cats through a selection process. To them, cats were perfect as they were: amazing rodent hunters! But this doesn't mean they are cold-blooded hunters, either.
Cats: They Don’t Hate You
Researchers conducted an experiment to see how cats react to their owners in an unfamiliar environment. The owner and the cat enter an unfamiliar room for two minutes. Then, the owner leaves the cat alone for two more minutes, before coming back in.
If the cat shares a strong bond with the owner, it would relax and continue investigating the room after he or she returns. If it has an unstable bond, the cat either avoids the owner or clings to him or her. 65.8% of the adult cats and 64.3% of the kittens shared a strong bond with their owners. Interestingly, this percentage of strong bonds is very close to the strong bonds human infants held with their guardians–65%! And it turns out that cats have a higher secure attachment to their owners than dogs (61%) do, too.
This study suggests that cats are able to form strong bonds with their humans, just as well as dogs can. It also gives a good insight into how foster care and meetings with potential adopters may affect the cats’ ability to bond. So when you get asked the anticipated question: cats or dogs, remember: cats do love us; they just show it in their own, special way.
Sources: Sciencealert, National Geographic, arstechnica