A new study shows a surprising revelation that only further highlights the differences between dogs and cats. Veterinary behavioral medicine professor Dr. Daniel Mills was the lead author in the animal psychology study, which was similar to another study called Strange Experiment.” The latter study was developed by the late psychologist Mary Ainsworth, and it involved a mother or caregiver leaving a baby or small child in a room to play before a stranger would enter the room. The experiment was designed to determine how attached the child was to his/her mother.
Mills said about his study, “Animal-human relationships may be built on different priorities–for dogs clearly safety and security are important, but this is not the case in cats. It seems cats are much more resource focused… I’m sure you know someone whose cat moved in with their neighbor who started to feed it (rather than offered it shelter and protection).”
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How do cats react when left alone?
The researchers who conducted the study placed 20 adult cats in the same unfamiliar room. They then observed how the cats reacted when being left in a room with a stranger, their owners or by themselves. In order to make the study more successful, scientists chose cats that were most attached to their owners. They found that the cats meowed more after their owners left them in the room with strangers. The researchers did not find any more evidence of strong attachment.
Mills explained in a written statement that feline vocalization may indicate frustration, but it could also possibly be a learned response. He noted that there were strange situations in which an individual cat would seek to stay close to its owner and showed signs of distress when separated from its owner and signs of pleasure when reunited with its owner. However, such situations were not common.
A similar study from 2013 showed that dogs find security with their owners, making them more like small children rather than cats.