Study Finds There Are Five Different Human-Cat Relationship Types

If you had to describe your relationship with your cat in one word, what would it be?

Maybe the word aloof came to mind or maybe it was clingy.

But one thing is clear, we love our cats – even the wild and crazy ones.

Photo: Pixabay

Cats show they love us in their own special ways but there are still so many unanswered questions.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln wanted to dive deeper into the personal relationships between people and their cats, so they surveyed nearly 4,000 cat owners.

Professor Daniel Mills, animal behavioral specialist at the University of Lincoln, said, “Cats form close emotional relationships with humans, yet little is actually known about this. As with any complex social relationship, the type of cat-owner bond is a product of the dynamic between both individuals involved, along with their certain personality features.”

Photo: Pixabay

The study, My Cat and Me, asked cat owners a set of questions about behavior, the cat’s perception of the owner, and time spent interacting.

After analyzing all the data, researchers discovered there are five different relationship types.

Relationship Types

Open Relationship

“It is characterized by a neutral or balanced level of emotional investment in the cat. The cats typically have access to outdoors, relate well to other people but also have some affiliation with the owner, but have little need for owner proximity,” stated researchers.

Remote Association

Cats that visit the neighbors would fall into this relationship category. “It is characterized by a neutral or balanced level of emotional investment in the cat. The cats typically have access to outdoors, relate well to other people but also have some affiliation with the owner, but have little need for owner proximity.”

Photo: Pixabay

Casual Relationship

This type of relationship is most common in busy households. “The cat is clearly sociable and accepting of others but has the least need for owner proximity of any of the groups.”

Co-dependence

Just like the name says, cats and humans in this type of relationship are very close and depend on one another. Cats will “lick their owner’s hands and face” and interact often through play and affection. These close relationships are typically formed with indoor cats in a one-person household.

Photo: Pixabay

Friendship

“This cat likes to be near the owner but does not feel a need to maintain physical proximity to the owner.” This relationship type is most common in homes with multiple cats.

Photo: Pixabay

Mills stated, “While many cats may be aloof, it seems that this is not as common as might be portrayed. The wider sociability of the cat and owner expectations may be significant, and the owner’s level of emotional investment in the cat and the cat’s sociability appear to be particularly important in discriminating what type of relationship they have together.”

Photo: Pixabay

The goal of the research was to better understand the emotional level of our relationships with cats and ultimately lead to even better bonds.

But just how much do you rely on your cat and vice versa?

You can discover what type of relationship you have with your cat by taking the online quiz here.

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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