Cats attach to humans, and particularly women, as social partners, and it’s not just for the sake of obtaining food, according to the new research, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Behavioural Processes.
The study is the first to show in detail that the dynamics underlying cat-human relationships are nearly identical to human-only bonds, with cats sometimes even becoming a furry “child” in nurturing homes.
“Food is often used as a token of affection, and the ways that cats and humans relate to food are similar in nature to the interactions seen between the human caregiver and the pre-verbal infant,” co-author Jon Day, a Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition researcher, told Discovery News. “Both cat and human infant are, at least in part, in control of when and what they are fed!”
… “A relationship between a cat and a human can involve mutual attraction, personality compatibility, ease of interaction, play, affection and social support,” co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna explained. “A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other’s inclinations and preferences.” …