My Cat and Me—A Study of Cat Owner Perceptions of Their Bond and Relationship
Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK
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Academic Editors: Chiara Mariti and Jonathan Bowen
Received: 4 May 2021 / Revised: 23 May 2021 / Accepted: 26 May 2021 / Published: 29 May 2021
Despite the cat’s popularity as a companion animal, little is known about its bond and relationship with owners. The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the different types of relationship that cats might establish with their owners, using human attachment and social support theories as a framework for the underpinning bond. A questionnaire was developed to gather information regarding different emotional elements that could underpin the relationship; the cat’s potential perception of the owner as a secure base; the owner’s level of engagement with the cat, their sensitivity to the cat’s needs and the consistency of their interactions with the cat. Five distinct forms of cat–owner relationship were identified. These seemed to constitute what we describe as an: “open relationship”, “remote association”, “casual relationship”, “co-dependence” and “friendship”. The extent to which these relationships involved a bond towards the owner as a source of social support or secure attachment varied. Accordingly, we conclude that the cat–owner bond should not be profiled simply or solely in terms of attachment in its classic psychological sense.