We still have two weeks before Valentine’s Day, but love is already in the air — at least in the lab of one American neuroscientist.
As part of a BBC2 documentary, Dr. Paul Zak attempted to determine whether cats or dogs love their owners more, settling an ongoing debate and possibly shattering a stereotype or two in the process.
So what did Zak discover? Um, that stereotypes just save time.
To answer this question, Zak tested the level of oxytocin in both cats and dogs after they played with their owners, The Telegraph reports. Oxytocin is a hormone that is frequently referred to as “the love hormone” or “the cuddle hormone,” because it can be released after spending time with a loved one — or even after snuggling with your dog.
“It’s one of the chemical measures of love in mammals,” Zak told news paper. “Humans produce the hormone in our brains when we care about someone. For example, when we see our spouse or child the levels in our bloodstream typically rise by 40 to 60 percent.”
Although oxytocin levels had previously been tested in dogs, there had never been a similar study on cats. That’s where Zak came in. He checked the oxytocin levels of 10 dogs and 10 cats both before they played with their owners, and then re-checked them afterwards. The dogs’ levels increased by an average of 57.2 percent afterward, while cats’ levels increased by a paltry 12 percent — although Zak was surprised that they got any kind of boost at all.
“[T]he dog level of 57.2 percent is a very powerful response. It shows these dogs really care about their owners,” he told The Telegraph. “It was also a nice surprise to discover that cats produce any at all. At least some of the time, cats seem to bond with their owners.”
They like us some of the time, huh? Somehow that doesn’t look as sweet on a Valentine’s Card.