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How Does One Become a 'Cat Lady'?

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If your friends and family consider you to be a “crazy cat lady,” you will be delighted to learn that scientists have now proved that your cats love you for more than just the food you give them.

Kurt Kotrschal of the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and the University of Vienna conducted a study about how cats interact with their owners. The research team filmed and analyzed the interactions of 41 cats and their owners.

They found that the dynamics of cat and human relationships is a lot like that between humans; felines and humans can form intense bonds based on affection. This is significant because for years, most animal behavior researchers felt that the bonds between people and pets, especially cats, were based on food.

“Food is often used as a token of affection, and the ways that cats and humans relate to food are similar in nature to the interactions seen between the human caregiver and the pre-verbal infant,” co-author Jon Day, a Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition researcher, told Discovery News.

“Both cat and human infant are, at least in part, in control of when and what they are fed!”

However, the study found that the relationship between owners and their cats went beyond the simple desire for fo0od. Social creatures, cats bond intensely with their human partners, especially women.

“The cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” said co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna. She added that women have “more intense relationships” with cats than men do.

But the feline-female bond goes beyond affection. The study found also that cats and people responded to each other’s social cues, often affecting their behaviors.

For example, cats seem to understand that if they use body language to communicate their desires for affection, their owners will pet them. When the cats’ needs are being met, they are more likely to be “good kitties,” responding to their owners’ wishes with the desired behavior.

Of course, since cats can be manipulative, uppity little beasts, sometimes they’ll snub you anyway, just for the fun of it. Even if you’re a crazy cat lady. Curiously, Kotrschal’s study didn’t report on cattiness!

Next up for Kotrschal: a long-term study of dogs. Perhaps they’ll find that dogs like men better…

Check out the original article here and more great stuff at PetsAdviser.com!

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