With the bond between cats and humans lasting through thousands of years, it is no wonder that our furry feline friends have become the most popular pet throughout Europe and the US. However, recent studies have shown that unlike dogs, cats do not actually need humans to feel safe or even to survive. Even domesticated cats which live with us from birth and have no experience in the wild feel very independent in life and can look after themselves without looking to their human companions for help.
Self-Reliance in Cats
Unlike dogs that are pack animals, studies have shown that cats do not pine for their owners or suffer from anxiety when left alone. Naturally living alone, cats are not used to depending on anyone else. A study by animal behaviour experts at the University of Lincoln shows that cats prefer to look after themselves and will feel safe and secure even when separated from their owner. This however does not mean that cats do not love their owners, as many have the freedom to leave whenever they want. The simple fact that they stay in your home at all is a choice because they want to, even though they are independent animals.
Cats have become the most popular pet mostly due to their independence. For people that work long hours or travel often, they are the ideal pet as they do not need constant care and attention. Cats do recognise their owners with feelings for them and a strong bond, but the studies have shown that cats do not need their owners to feel secure, unlike dogs that need their owners to feel safe. A cat will attach itself to a home and owners, but will not rely on them completely.
Behaviour with Humans
In other studies, animal behaviour specialists have concluded that cats react very differently with humans compared to the way dogs do. When playing or interacting with humans, dogs change their attitudes and behaviours compared to when they are playing with other dogs. Cats however, act very much the same. Although they know we are different, and certainly much larger, they do not act any different as they would when socialising with another cat. Examples of this are rubbing their bodies against us, keeping their tail in the air, kneading their feet and grooming next to us. This proves that cats do not see us particularly dissimilar to other cats. Even in a wild environment cats do not look to others for help or protection, they are generally lone animals, so humans are therefore no different.
When feeling anxious, a cat will find a safer place such as under the bed or on top of a tree to hide, rather than looking for their owner for protection. There is no dependence on the owner so cats just feel like they need to look out for themselves. Stray cats all over the world live in a range of environments and manage to live just fine. The domesticated cats of today could still have this freedom if they wanted it, but they prefer to stay in a comfortable, happy home as they have a bond with their owner and life is much easier in a warm, safe place with constant food and cuddles.
If it came down to the question of whether cats actually need their owners to survive, the answer would most probably be no. Cats have before and do now, live without humans. Even the most spoiled felines could still live without us. They have much stronger souls than dogs and can carry on living life alone or alongside humans. Obviously life with humans is much easier and more enjoyable for them, but if they had to survive without us they could. Cats do not need stroking all day, bowls of milk, constant food and brushing; it is just a luxury that they have become accustomed to. In reality, who would say no to that.