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Do Cats Feel Loyalty Towards Their Owners?

Updated May 16, 2024
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It's said that while dogs have owners, cats have staff. Not only is that humorous, but it also appears to be true. Researchers from Japan's Kyoto University gathered some cats and gave them a test that dogs had previously undergone. It involved the cats' owners, as well as some people acting as "friends" to the owners and some acting as "enemies." (For the purposes of this study, "enemies" were simply people who refused to offer the owners help opening a container).

Unlike dogs, who tended to refuse treats from their owners' "enemies," the cats were indifferent to who offered them treats. If they liked the treats, they took them.

The researchers were quick to point out that the study didn't necessarily prove that cats don't love their people. "It is conceivable that the cats in this study did not understand the meaning or goal of the owners' behavior," the authors wrote in their report. "But even if they did understand the owner's goal or intention, they might have failed to detect the negative intention of the non-helpful actor." In other words, cat people, keep loving your kitty. The feeling might (or might not) be mutual.

We do love our cats:

  • In Ancient Egypt, anyone who lost a pet cat would shave off his or her eyebrows in mourning.

  • In 1988, a British man left his entire $12.5 million (£7 million) fortune to his cat, Blackie.

  • Some famous cat lovers include Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Florence Nightingale, and Pope Benedict XVI.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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