Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners?

Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners?

We know dogs do. Dogs love us and don’t hesitate to show us every single chance they get, right? But do cats get attached to their owners too?

In the short video below, Anthony, from DNews, sheds a fun light on the subject with his humorous insight. He talks about a team of researchers who did a study with 20 cats to measure how the cats reacted to a recording of their owners’ voices, as well as to strangers’ voices. The findings were that cats showed a greater response to their owner’s voice, but made no move, whatsoever, to go towards it.

So the cats know you’re there, they know who you are, but choose not to respond to you. Nope. I’m not moving.

Do cats get attached to their owners?

Sound familiar so far?

The theory is that dogs, who are direct descendants of wolves, were domesticated some 19,000-32,000 years ago. We used them to help us hunt; they used us as a source of food and as the highest-ranking member of their pack.

By comparison, our domestic cats descend from a wildcat, Felis Sylvestris, that came into contact with humans about 9,000 years ago. The loose theory here is that we started farming, the wild cats noticed mice around our farms and buildings and began to hang around. We, of course, let them do their thing. The cats chose the terms of their domestication and we were cool with that.

See the difference?

Whatever. Cats are cats are cats, and that’s why we love them.

Published by DNews, 2013

Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners?

Just because (some) cats don’t budge when you call them or walk into a room, doesn’t mean they don’t love you. But it seems they just might not need us as much as we’d like to believe they do.

I have 6 cats, and I know I could go away for a week, and they would be fine, as long as someone comes in and feeds them. I also know that when I come back home, there will soon be a cat on my lap. Business as usual.

Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners

What do I think?

It’s difficult to say whether cats truly love us back. Cat behavior is difficult to read, but, to me, it’s obvious that cats don’t have the same social and emotional relationship with us as our dogs. But cats are cool. They’re just cool.

All cats are different, and that’s the beauty of the species. Some are aloof; others won’t leave us alone. Cats may not react with the same tail-wagging-so-fast-the-hind-feet-come-up-off-the-floor way that dogs do, but that’s okay with us. Because they’re just cats.

Thanks for reading. Meow.

You might also enjoy watching the Engineer’s Humorous Guide to Cats Video



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42 thoughts on “Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners?”

  1. We have 3 cats – one we call a cat-dog because he comes running to greet anybody at the door, must sniff them or their belongings, and needs to be with his people or someone at all times. People try to steal him on a reg. basis.
    The eldest is aloof with other ppl and only cares about us.
    But the middle cat – she is the one who is attached to us in a major way. Since we got her, I have always worked from home, so she has grown very attached to me especially. If she’s in another room and can’t find us, she will meow and I will answer and she will come running. If I say her name, she will come running. She is definitely attached to us in a way that is not the expected aloof cat manner.

  2. Bear will take love from anyone who will give it to him. I think he’s more clingy and needy than most cats though. He checks in every so often, then goes about his merry way to do cat stuff. He exhibits several traits of dogs (coming when called) … but then he’ll catify it (come running … stop three feet short as if remembering he’s a cat … then licking himself, looking out the window … THEN acknowledging me). Unlike most cats, when he’s not feeling well, he wants to snuggle with me.

    • Oh, that’s so cat — “He exhibits several traits of dogs (coming when called) … but then he’ll catify it (come running … stop three feet short as if remembering he’s a cat … then licking himself, looking out the window …” As if remembering he’s a cat. You’re hilarious. 🙂

  3. lovely article.. I never thought too much about cats betting attached.. but all that you said makes sense and it also gives some perspective to how our cat behaves…

  4. I have a cat named Jasmine and I had her since she was a little kitten. I sent all summer with her when we first got her. She followed me around and still does. She waits outside the bathroom when I shower, she runs to the door when I get home, she can’t stand to be away from me, and she doesn’t let anyone else really hold her. I am her mommy and I think she knows that. Even as I’m typing this she is sitting right next to me. I’m positive my cat has a bond with me. She lets me hold her like baby too. Not the on the back so much but as if I have a baby on my hip. She likes it along with laying on my back even if I have to walk around.

    • i also forgot to mention that when I took a week long trip to North Carolina (From New Hampshire) my stepdad said that she say on the couch and looked out the window for four the first four days I had been gone. She didn’t cuddle, meow, play until I returned. Luckily she ate she she wasn’t depressed or anything.

    • That’s really sweet, Jackie. I love it when a cat is like that. I have 6 cats and they’re all pretty cuddly, although my 20-year-old is the one who sleeps with me under the sheets. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I do appreciate it. 🙂

  5. I think this study has some valid points but is not true in my case. My catnis very attached to me and whenever am bome she wants to cuddle and lick me. My cat is an amazing creature and loves our whole family and is considered in making sure we are all okay

  6. I had a cat who I was very close to …I was alone in a new city, snow bound and home a lot due to the nature of my job when I adopted her. She slept with me – and we cuddled constantly as the heat in my apartment just couldn’t keep up with 40 below wind chilled temps. She would sit with me when ever I sat, follow me, would wait at the door for me every day when I was due home ( according to my new husband). She would play fetch with me and a wine cork, knead my head when I would sit on the couch. I think she was very bonded to me. I am sad to think that wasn’t the case.

    • Hey, Anne. Don’t be sad. Your cat was definitely bonded to you. Some cats are aloof, others are super-friendly. I love that your cat played fetch with a wine cork. I have 2 cats. One is 17 years old, and she sits on my lap, and sleep with me every night. She doesn’t play anymore though. The other is a stray we just brought home a month ago. She’s probably about one year old. She’s a cuddler, a real sweetheart and loves to play. Thanks for visiting my site. I do hope you’ll come again. Peace.

  7. I’ve always thought that the way this study is interpreted by many people as “cats don’t love their owners, blah blah” to be complete BS. No offense meant to you– I’ve already read some of your other comments– but in general this just seems like a false equivalency.

    The dog, wolf, and human social structures seem to be more similar to one another than they are to that of cats. If you look at information out there on feral cat social structure, they do show affection for each other (notably, some female cats will get together to help raise one another’s offspring), but their hierarchy doesn’t seem to be as strict. Or at the very least, it’s different. There’s also the fact that wolves are pack hunters. Cats aren’t. If a human, wolf, or dog is abandoned by or separated from the group, they’re at a huge disadvantage. Cats aren’t entirely solitary, but they are at least solitary hunters. They’ve evolved to gather basic resources on their own. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s much less evolutionary incentive for a cat (besides perhaps a young kitten) to immediately become worried and drop other things if they become separated from their companions. That’s not to say they don’t feel affection or develop bonds (see aforementioned cooperative litter raising among bonded female cats), but frankly it seems like a dog or human on their own is in a lot more trouble, and it’s much more important for their own safety to reunite with the group as quickly as possible.

    There’s also the fact that dogs are more likely to have breeds in their ancestry meant to work closely with humans (incidentally, I would like to see a study like this comparing sighthounds and retrievers/herders! might be interesting 🙂 ), whereas the work cats did for us never really required taking direction or developing a close personal relationship.

    TL;DR Cats can bond with other cats (and they seem to think of humans as cats according to another study, so…), but they probably don’t feel the same amount of concern when left alone because they’re better equipped to fend for themselves/less reliant on companions than most dogs are.

    (And yes, I know that cats don’t release nearly as much oxytocin as dogs when they make eye contact with humans, though they do release some… I suspect that this is for similar reasons, though there could be other factors at play.)

  8. I agree with Susan Hamilton when she observes: “And yes …….. Cats do miss you when you leave them. Well, if you have earned their trust. As an international flight attendant I am away for 4-7 days at a time. Serafina rarely gives my cat sitter attention , but when I return?? She will not leave my side for the first 24-48 hrs.

    That is love , attatchment & unfortunately a bit of separation anxiety upon my return since she stays by my side the first few days I am home” because I’ve had the same experience!

    Currently, I’m facing a cat custody battle and I could use all the help I can get when it comes to making the point that an elderly cat should be allowed to stay where she is, instead of being uprooted by her former owner. The cat has lived at these cottages for the past 8 yrs, and I became her caretaker because her owner was rarely home. Then the cat was left in my care when her owner had to move. Now the owner wants her cat back! Bearcat has been living here for the past 3 or 4 years easily. I think that cats are very territorial and are as attached to their environment/surroundings as they are to their people. If anyone has articles on this subject I’d like to see them!

  9. I must add that it is uneducated self proclaimed animal lovers like yourself that perpetuate the nonsense that cats are inferior pets.

    You seem to think everyone should prefer the licking , jumping, tail wagging sort of love that dogs provide. Although I miss my beloved dogs that died recently, I can in no way agree with your ignorance of cats.

    Maybe your stupidity with felines makes them distrust you specifically.

    • Thank you for the positive response! I like that. Always uplifting. What makes you think I hate cats, or that cats specifically hate me? I love cats, always have always will. I had 13 of them at one time and loved each and every one of them. So, please, don’t pretend to know me at all and tell me I am “ignorant of cats.” I’ve also had dogs all my life, goats, chickens, mini pigs, possum, raccoons … I love them all and prefer no one over the other! I’ve worked with rescue most of my life, in one form or another, and you have no idea whether I’m “uneducated” or not.

      No where do I say cats are inferior. They’re the best! I’ve had cats since I was 5 years old. I didn’t do the study, I simply shared it. You could have saved yourself from getting so hateful and hot under the collar by recognizing that my response to the study was tongue in cheek. You’ve judged me wrong. Adios.

    • It always amazes me how incredibly mean and rude people can be online. “Stupidity” with felines? Really? Was that necessary?

      It also always amazes me how people who profess to love animals so much manage to treat their fellow human beings in such a nasty way.

      I may not agree with the study, as I have 2 fabulous cats who follow me around everywhere and use me as a jungle gym, but I just can’t imagine going onto someone’s blog and telling them they are stupid.

      Get some manners.

      • Hey Rebecca. It’s easy for people to be rude and mean online, isn’t it, in all their anonymity? Before they speak, they should ask themselves, “Would I say this to their face?” If their answer is “yes” anyway, then I feel bad for them. That’s a heck of a way to live their lives, full of anger and not afraid to share it. Thankfully, I don’t take comments like this personally. I know it’s not me they hate. They just hate.

        Thanks for stopping by, by the way. I appreciate the visit. Peace.

  10. I have been a dog owner for 20 yrs but after the passing of my last dog I got a cat. I was visiting a local shelter & this cat Serafina “spoke” to me.

    It took several months of patience for her to warm up to me but now there is no doubt that Cats do Love their owners……..despite that rediculous study that continues to be referenced where the owner leaves the room blah blah.

    How simplistically narrow minded you as a blogger are to even use that silly study comparing a cat to a dog to a child.

    I love my children but would never consider comparing their level of attatchment to me based on a dog. Ridiculous!!

    I also would never compare my cat to my dogs.

    As I wrote, it took my cat months to become affectionate with me but now?? Serafina is all snuggles & adoration.

    And yes …….. Cats do miss you when you leave them. Well, if you have earned their trust. As an international flight attendant I am away for 4-7 days at a time. Serafina rarely gives my cat sitter attention , but when I return?? She will not leave my side for the first 24-48 hrs.

    That is love , attatchment & unfortunately a bit of separation anxiety upon my return since she stays by my side the first few days I am home

  11. A tip to cats owner not to the people visiting than don’t know the cat,
    Is the cat is little moody don’t touch for a minute then grab her our him like a baby with their face looking up and touch them to their head be confident and don’t do it with fear just out of love, that not only calm them but also is a vulnerable position to them. Also do it from time to time to give them some love actually is like a dominant possition of you over the cat that why you need to do it with love and confident. Don’t scare them or intimated them.
    For cats minor altercation could mean you are making them move away from the territory so they will go or want go and turn aggressive bcuz is a territory war and he is little and vulnerable against you.

    my cats now don’t like strangers so that thing that get afecctioned with strangers not true with my current cats, but the cat that visit some time are friendly to anyone and a previous cat I use to have was affective with anyone. So I think that study was wrong to understand something you have to think as they, not understand things as you understand it bcuz will get everything wrong. I know bcuz I have different animals and I know what mean something to some species to other is not tolerated and you will get a totally different reaction.

  12. Not sure is fair to animals to be compare with others, dogs in general they survive bcuz of the group they are not independant hunters as cat are, of course don’t mean that could be exceptions to rules in every ways, could be an independent alpha looner canine as a group of felines, like you could see on lions that are more fair to compare with cats, dogs are canine other species. But we are all mammals we all are attach at some point and learn to need that motherly figure and friendly touch yes even cats, but of course dogs will get desperate if you go, but also not all dogs, bcuz dogs see you as part of the group they need to survive as we are the rest of the humans in general. Those animals are all capable of love yes all do as we do, and all start with a mom, that’s why when cats get so comfy with you they went to the kitten mommy mode. And that is ?.
    I have different cats and dogs in my live, birds, horses, goats and rabbits in my life I could tell you you can get different things from everyone and from the same spieces. In my case with cats males tend to be more mellow and attach than females that are more moddy could also have extreme affective moments and a lot of energy very playful how to win the female play with her, also females are more brave and loyal even they could be moody, with kids go with the female they tend to attach to the kids more than the grow up. If you have cats and will introduce a new cat do it slowly give them space a safe place from each other and also the best is you have female bring another female and if you have male bring other male after they make peace they could get more closer to the other same sex than the sane sex. Also notice human male and female cats tend to get atach better and male cat to female human.
    With dogs I experience females are more loyal than males also less moody while males could be more moody less patient than females, but of course there are always exceptions. But of course cats love as Any other species, but they know they can survive without you even they will miss you, live go on and the survival instic need to win. Why dog get scare is could be less than love that what you think, could be their fear of not survive without you.

  13. Having had numerous cats over the years (and a few dogs too!), I think I would have to disagree. While I have had cats that were pretty independent, most of them show some degree of attachment and affection that is specifically for me. My current cat Yeti, follows me from room to room, sits on my desk while I’m working, follows me to bed every night, and is rarely more than six feet from me when I’m home. And he is extremely affectionate to me as opposed to other family members that he seems to merely tolerate. That says to me that he loves ME specifically in a way he does not love other people.

    • I do agree with you, Adrian. The experiment they did in that post was rather dry, I have to say. I have a cat, Jessie, that, while I wouldn’t call her “affectionate” particularly, she does favor me and sleeps with me, sits on my lap a lot, sits on my papers, etc. She’s affectionate to a point, as long as you don’t pet her too long, or touch her tail, or something typical to a lot of cats. I figure she’s quite normal. I love the name of your cat — Yeti. That’s sweet. You’re lucky to have each other. I’m glad you’re a solid pair. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a nice comment too. Peace 🙂

  14. It seems to me that this article is bias and written by a dog lover. I don’t understand why there’s a desire for cat lovers to put dogs down and vice versa. They are different. Apples and oranges.

    • Oh, you’ve got me wrong. I love cats and have had them all of my life. My 16-year-old Jessie on on my lap right now as I type this. The article was a bit “tongue-in-cheek”. But we all know how snobby cats can be. That’s what I love about cats. They’re just themselves. So no, I’m not putting cats down at all. On the contrary. By the way, I have 2 dogs too. They are definitely oranges and apples. Thanks for checking out my post and for leaving your comment. I appreciate that.

      • Jeanne, I apologize for the assumption. I could believe the arguments made in this article, i just haven’t been convinced by the evidence. cats becoming easily distracted and not jumping for joy when the owner returns seems too weak of an argument. We can speculate at best. Also, what about instances when they become happy? I have my first kitten, and many times she will jump for joy when I return, even when she’s not hungry. I’m not disagreeing with the premise, I’m just not convinced.

  15. Well this is an older post but I had to jump in. 🙂 I’ve had dogs and cats all my life – and I have to say, 99% of my cats have been very attached to me. As much as my dogs. I’ve only had one “classically aloof” cat in all my 44 years! Other family members report that when I’m not here, they wait by the window waiting for my return. And they greet me at the door when I walk in! I think one test like this proves nothing – cats put in a room in a foreign environment – of course they won’t act like dogs, because they are not dogs! I get weary of the misconceptions spread about cats, so that’s why I’m speaking up. Yes, some are aloof – but aren’t some humans that way too? Every single cat has a unique personality – they can’t be lumped into one trait like that..

    Also, the poster above who said she was “creeped out” that the cat was attached to her son – that made me very sad. Why on earth would that be “creepy?” 🙁 Poor cat that she gave away because of that! 🙁 I hope that cat found a family that would appreciate his devotion. OH, and the humping is something that young cats sometimes do – just like dogs – they are ANIMALS, people – it happens. I just do not understand humans sometimes….. 🙁

    • Thank you for your input, Anne. I agree with you that there are a lot of misconceptions about cats. I’ve had cats most of my life too, and have loved every one of them, and vice versa. The article was posted a little “tongue-in-cheek” on my part, I guess. It was just to demonstrate how they are, in fact, quite different from the tail-wagging, jumping-up-and-down kind of greeting one gets from a dog. They don’t have that same kind of attachment to their people that dogs do. Cats are just more refined. More cultured, maybe. They’re not predictable, and that’s why I love them. Thanks for visiting my blog! Do come back again! 🙂

      • Hi Jeanne! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, that was really thoughtful of you. 🙂 I hope you know I meant no disrespect – I LOVE your blog and read it all the time, and I love your message!

        I love your description of cats as “refined” – that’s funny and oh so true!

        My frustration really wasn’t with your post – I did see the humor in it, I totally get that! 🙂 I think I was just a bit upset with the other comment, which, really – I should just let that stuff slip off my back…usually I do – guess it’s just one of those days, lol.

        Anyway – thanks again for replying. Keep up the fantastic work, this blog is awesome. 🙂

        • Hey, happy to have you come back for another comment. That post was done quite a while ago, and I didn’t recall the other comment you referred to about the woman being freaked out. So I went and read through all the comments again, and there it was! In 2 parts, at that. I had missed it somehow, unfortunately. Wow, can you believe her!?! She must not know very much about cats, obviously. Weird, isn’t it? What did she think, it was a stalker or something? Sheesh. I wish I had seen it at the time and responded with an effort to calm her down. It’s sad that she took the cat away. I hope her daughter ends up with a lifetime of loving cats, and hopefully not a fear of them, mother-induced. Thanks again for your comment! I’ll go check out your blog in the morning. Take care now. 🙂

  16. Oh and 1more thing for the past week my husband and I have been shutting the children’s doors at night. When I said she was crying constantly this morning at my daughter/sons room door ….she was staring at me meowing as as to say “let me in” . When I let her in she passed my 5 year old sons bed and jumped on my 10 year olds and played next to her and was quiet the rest of our sleep. I had even checked her food water and litter levels. Cat lovers please help as this is why I don’t LOVE cats. (I do like them though 🙂 thanks

  17. Wow! Interesting. I have a cat named Greycie we’ve had her for about 3 months. She is VERY attached to my 10 year old that it creeps me out sometimes. So much that I googled this topic this morning. Ex. Approximately 4:30am she was meowing, I know what most will say ….she is probably in heat. But I get up and she’s at my daughters bedroom door looking at me. Kind of cute…but scary. Scary because according to most studies they don’t react like that to humans. Sooooo……since I have witnessed it and so has my husband, I’m starting to wonder is it cute at all? If the animal shouldn’t have that ability it seems kinds of sneaky to me….right? I had to get rid of a cat when she was 5(my daughter) due to the same characteristics only worst!…..this one was “humping” Her legwhile she would sleep. And he would go all lengths to trick me Into thinking he wasn’t in the room. That really creeped me out so we took him to the shelter because he kept doing it. Greycie doesn’tdo that but is SUPER attached to the same daughter and I have 3 children. She even lets my daughter wash her. Any suggestions ….do the do that because they are not “fixed”? Should I even be concerned? If I didn’t witness TWICE I wouldn’t believe it myself.

  18. Interesting findings. I have two cats, they only look for me when they are hungry. There could be a grain of truth in the findings.


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