Vitale, K. R., Behnke, A. C., & Udell, M. A. R. (2019). Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans. Current Biology, 29(18), R864–R865. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.036
Vitale, KR, & Udell, MAR. (2019) The quality of being sociable: The influence of human attentional state, population, and human familiarity on domestic cat sociability. Behavioural Processes: 158, 11-17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2018.10.026
Two experiments were conducted to assess the influence of human attentional state, population, and human familiarity on domestic cat sociability. Sociability behaviors included duration of time in proximity and contact with the human and the frequency of meow vocalizations. Human attentional state influenced cat behavior, with cats spending significantly more time in proximity with the attentive human in both the pet (U(22) = 389, Z = -2.72, P = 0.007) and shelter groups (F(44) = 15.34, P = 0.0003). Cat population influenced sociability and shelter cats spent more time in proximity with the inattentive unfamiliar human as compared to pet cats (U(44) = 91, Z = 3.8, P = 0.0001) Additionally compared to pet cats, more individuals in the shelter cat group meowed at least once during the unfamiliar human inattentive phase (Fisher’s exact test, P = 0.02). Human familiarity did not significantly influence pet cat sociability behaviors. Overall, a wide range of sociability scores was seen, indicating individual variation is an important consideration in cat social behavior. Future research in this area will predict conditions under which strong cat-human bonds form and establish a more comprehensive scientific understanding of cat behavior.