It appears humans’ love and reverence for cats is a touch one-sided. Professor Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom is a recognized “specialist in clinical animal behavior,” and he says that just because you want your cat to love you back doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
Professor Mills told the BBC, “How do you actually characterize the relationship between the cat and the owner? Owners invest a lot emotionally in the cat relationship. Now, that doesn’t mean that the cat’s investing in the same sort of emotional relationship. So, our research was really aimed at trying to look to see whether cats are making that emotion commitment.”
The study was an adaptation of The Strange Situation, a study developed by famed psychologist Mary Ainsworth. Through a series of steps, it proved that children have an attachment relationship their parents and/or caregivers.
Mills and his team first tried it out with a cute dog. Unsuprisingly, the dog’s behavior resembled a child’s. The professor told the BBC, “In the case of dogs and in the case of children, the attachment actually means that you see the individual as a source of comfort and something provides joy, and also a source of safety.”
But cats? Not so much. In the video example the report provides, you can watch the cat just completely ignore her owner to interact with the stranger (it’s kind of heartbreaking). Mind you, Mills and his team followed the same exact steps that showed an emotional connection between parents and children and dog owners and their pooches.
Also, I just want to point out that it doesn’t appear Mills is some kind of anti-cat propagandist. Dude has a cat in his profile picture on the University of Lincoln website.
The researchers have now performed this experiment with 20 cats, but haven’t finished the study yet. So, I guess the more foolishly optimistic of us could say the results are inconclusive…but, according to KUSA NBC 9 News, Mills has titled the study “Cats Hate Owners.” So…yeah. Sorry.
More info: KUSA