Talk to most cat owners, and they will tell you how special their cats are. After a few minutes, you’ll realize the important role their cats play in their lives. But what is that role? Scientists in the field of human-animal studies have been researching this question and have uncovered some fascinating results.
The Role of Child
For many years, the main theory as to why people kept cats as pets was attachment theory, which states that the same process that occurs between a mother and her baby also occurs between a cat owner and his or her cat. Human babies elicit nurturing responses from their parents. “There is an innate tendency for nurturing [human babies],” but young cats and young dogs also have those signals,” says Dennis Turner, B.S., Sc.D., director of the Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Switzerland and co-editor of “The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behavior.” “Young animals, including human babies, have relatively large eyes that look forward, a pug nose, no sharp features in the face and a rounded head. These features automatically elicit nurturing behavior in humans. This is often called the ‘cute response.'”
**Get the May 2008 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**