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Natural World

Why are cats more independent than dogs ?

September 5, 2015 | Comment icon 33 comments

Cats do not need as much interaction with their owner as dogs seem to. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Researchers at the University of Lincoln have shed light on why cats seem to fare better when left alone.
The study, which was conducted by a team of animal behavior specialists, concluded that cats do not generally perceive their owners as being as much of a focal point of security and safety as dogs do.

Adults cats are a lot more autonomous than dogs and even in their social relationships appear to be far less dependent on others in order to achieve a sense of protection.

"Previous research has suggested that some cats show signs of separation anxiety when left alone by their owners, in the same way that dogs do," said Professor Daniel Mills.
"But the results of our study show that they are in fact much more independent than canine companions. It seems that what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration."

To analyze feline behavior the researchers set up a number of scenarios in which cats were left in both familiar and unfamiliar environments with either their owner or with a stranger.

While the cats generally appeared to prefer to interact with their owner they did not seem to explicitly require that - a trait likely to stem from their origins as independent, solitary hunters.

Dogs by contrast are pack animals that tend to have a much greater need for social contact.

Source: Financial Express | Comments (33)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #24 Posted by Wickian 7 years ago
A year and a half ago a black and whte pipe cleaner cat showed up on my porch when it was -26 C with the wind blowing, I let him in and he's been a constant source of enjoyment. I called him 'Bones', which was very apt. He's still a skinny cat. He's the first cat I've lived with. The best cat I ever had growing up was also a black and white one who we found hanging by his armpits around the thorns in our lemon tree. He died a few years ago of unknown causes(had a bloody nose like he fell out a tree and landed on his face). We think one of the neighbors poisoned him because he would eye their c... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Yes_Man 7 years ago
Dogs are pack hunters and cats can hunt on thier own, easy
Comment icon #26 Posted by PersonFromPorlock 7 years ago
Our late tomcat seemed to have mixed feelings about dependency. Any time he and I were in the living room (about 20 feet from the bathroom) and I went to use it, when I opened the door there the cat would be, sitting in the hall with his back turned, studiously ignoring me.
Comment icon #27 Posted by GreenmansGod 7 years ago
I think they are missing the point that a cat that lives outdoors without human help lives an average of 2-5 years, but a cat that lives indoors live an average of 15 years. So a cat living in the wild doesn't live as well cat which is cared for and actually lives a miserable short life. I really don't like the idea that it might be ok to dump your unwanted cat off, because it will be just fine. It won't be fine. That being said, cats aren't like dogs in which dogs are like a servant, at cat is more like a friend. If you treat a friend poorly they will naturally eventually unfriend you. Treat ... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by questionmark 7 years ago
Two of my cats are completely dependent on me as they are both blind... strangely they act as "independent" as the others.
Comment icon #29 Posted by rivendel 7 years ago
My Brief Marriage to a Cat Lover: me : Believe it or not, we were married once. the therapist: What?? me: We were young, we were stupid, it was Moscow. So I moved into a house territorially sectioned out by three cats who lived there too. One lived in the basement, another had the main floor and the other… the attic. I got the garage… though in a sense they claimed that too because that’s where the catbox was. It wasn’t easy. Couldn’t even sit on a chair at the kitchen table without having one running to it and sitting on it moments before I got to it. It’s like they knew ahead of time which c... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by Phenix20 7 years ago
why it took researchers until 2015 to figure this out? Cat lovers already knew this for a long time. H.P Lovercraft once wrote an essay ''Cats and Dogs'' in 1926, which really nails it down. [...]''but for the cat I have entertained a particular respect and affection ever since the earliest days of my infancy. In its flawless grace and superior self-sufficiency I have seen a symbol of the perfect beauty and bland impersonality of the universe itself, objectively considered; and in its air of silent mystery there resides for me all the wonder and fascination of the unknown. The dog appeals to c... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Katzenking 7 years ago
As a toddler when none of my friends were around, I used to watch and follow stray cats. I kept distance and hid but I'm sure they always knew that I am there and I began to feel some kind of togetherness. The cat you see on my avatar-picture is the one who currently gives us the honour to share our lifes. He is a common farm cat and my wife brought him in after we tragically lost our former cat by a deadly desease. She desired a black cat and found a farmer's wife (more than 50 miles away) who breeds black cats. All cat lovers know that each cat has a different personality but this one is ver... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by highdesert50 7 years ago
The success of cats is in their diversity and subsequent adaptability. And, unlike pack animals, e.g. dogs, "friendship" must be earned and recognized as mutually beneficial.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Erowin 7 years ago
I guess those scientists have never met my moms cat. He's the clingiest thing I've ever seen. He would sit on her all day if she let him, and yowls at the front door once she leaves the house. My cat gets clingy towards other family members if I'm gone a lot, and if everyone leaves for a few days on a vacation they are VERY mad once we come back. My friends cat also punishes her if she leaves for 2 or more days. He'll ignore her, attack her and then stay glued at the hip during the next few days!

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