LINCOLN, England — A recent study has revealed why cats are more independent than dogs through a feline adapted version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST). The study, which was conducted at the University of Lincoln, dispels some of the previously held beliefs regarding feline and human interaction.
In order to test a cat’s attachment to its owner, Professor Daniel Mills and his colleague Alice Potter from the University of Lincoln, conducted the SST, which has previously been used on young children and pet dogs. The test places a child or pet in an unfamiliar situation with their primary parent to determine how the subject interacts with their caregiver in such an environment.
During the feline version of the SST, the researchers tested 20 cats with their owners, with strangers and on their own in an unfamiliar environment to identify their attachment level and reactions under different circumstances. The cats were tested for the amount of contact they sought from the human present, their level of passive behaviour, and how distressed they became when their owner wasn’t present.
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When comparing the data to that of young children and dogs, there was little similarity in reaction. During the study, the felines’ reaction remained rather consistent with only slightly more vocalization occurring when their owner was in the room but not for the reason that previous research has suggested.
The study actually found that cats make noises as a sign of frustration or learned response, but not from separation anxiety. As determined by this study, cats do not view their caregiver as a source of comfort and safety in the same way dogs do. At the same time, despite their often aloof nature, cats just surpassed dogs to become the number one most popular animal companion in the U.K.