Worldwide, domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) outnumber domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Despite cats’ success in human environments, dog social cognition has received considerably more scientific attention over the last several decades [1, 2, 3]. A key aspect of what has been said to make dogs unique is their proclivity for forming attachment bonds, including secure attachments to humans [1, 3], which could provide scaffolding for the development of human-like socio-cognitive abilities and contribute to success in human environments . Cats, like dogs, can be found living in social groups or solitarily, depending on early developmental factors, resource distribution, and lifetime experiences such as human interaction [1, 2, 4]. Despite fewer studies, research suggests we may be underestimating cats’ socio-cognitive abilities . Here we report evidence, using behavioral criteria established in the human infant literature [5, 6], that cats display distinct attachment styles toward human caregivers. Evidence that cats share social traits once attributed to dogs and humans alone would suggest that broader non-canine-specific mechanisms may be needed to explain cross-species attachment and socio-cognitive abilities.
In Current Biology, Kristyn R. Vitale, Alexandra C. Behnke, and Monique A.R. Udell have reported their findings on Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Here is a summary of their report, with the full study available online: