BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Dog people are always arguing that cat owners are in constant danger, kittens doing nothing but plan the demise of their human slaves – whenever they’re not sleeping, of course. However, a new study conducted by researchers at Oregon University found that our feline companions actually enjoy our presence, even more than food or toys.
Researchers Tested 4 Different Kinds of Stimuli
The team collected a sample of 50 cats, some with a forever home, others coming from shelters. After leaving them alone in an empty room without toys, food, or human interaction, the felines’ response to different stimuli was tested.
First, they were given food and their immediate reaction was noted. Then, they were exposed to the smell of catnip. Next, the cats received a wide variety of toys. Lastly, the long hours of solitude were interrupted by their owner or one of the researchers.
During the next stage of the experiment, the feline participants were placed in an empty room that was later flooded by all four stimuli. This is when the miniature predators surprised the researchers. Instead of going straight towards the food bowl, as most people would have anticipated, half the cats opted for human interaction, rubbing against the feet of their owners, demanding attention.
As for the other half, 37 percent chose food before anything else, while the remaining 13 percent was divided between toys and olfactory stimuli. Both shelter and family cats measured the same reactions.
Cats Have Strong Personalities and Different Tastes, Just Like Humans Do
As opposed to dogs, who are easily trained to follow orders, cats have gained a reputation of pretentious egotists that see humans as stupid two-legged cats. The researchers involved in this study wanted to prove that those who sought to train their feline companions, and failed, didn’t use the right stimuli.
Now, knowing that cats can also be rewarded with love and attention, the 42.9 million households sheltering an average of two cats can try and train their miniature predators to do more than majestically judge the other bipeds in the family.
The study entitled Social interaction, food, scent or toys? A formal assessment of domestic pet and shelter cat (Felis silvestris catus) preferences, was published on March 24, 2017, in the Behavioral Processes on-line journal. Further research into what motives the common cat is needed before establishing a canon of failproof cat stimuli.
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