Study: Your Cat Probably Loves You More Than It Loves Food (Take That, Dogs!)

Scientists are helping cats clap back against stereotypes that felines are uncaring

Cat on bed
Photo: Getty

After dealing with decades of unfair stereotypes that they are aloof and unloving, cats are finally getting a chance to clap back thanks to science.

According to Motherboard, a new study from Oregon State University publication Behavioural Processes found that pet cats often love their parents more than food. I don’t know if there is a person out there I love more than food; if that makes cats better than me, I am okay with it.

Dogs and tortoises have been a part of similar studies, so Oregon State researchers decided it was time to show cats’ true colors as well.

“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities,” the researchers wrote in the paper. “Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable. This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”

For the study, felines went through a series of cognitive tests. Fifty different cats were used as subjects, some of which were pets, others from shelters. All of the kitties were deprived of food, toys and human contact for a few hours. After this separation, the cats were presented with human attention, food, scents and toys to see what they missed most. Almost all of the cats craved human attention, with half of the felines opting for chin scratches over any of the other stimuli, food included. Only 37% of the cats chose food first.

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The study also showed there was no noticeable difference between what pet cats versus adoptable cats prefer. Whether they have a forever home or not, many cats crave love more than anything else.

Of course, this study is not a guarantee that your cat is going to be a perfect loving angel. Based on the small sample they studied, the researchers believe that cats skew towards being kind, but this does not account for individual differences like breed and home life.

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