They found that 64% of the animals seemed less stressed during the reunion than during the separation, which suggests that they had a secure attachment. Secure attachment is a theory originally developed by Ainsworth in relation to children. It is the idea that the presence of a caregiver makes the child (or cat) feel comfortable, calm and secure.
The other 36% of the kittens showed signs of insecure attachment in that they were stressed on the reunion. Some wanted cuddles whilst others avoided contact.
The researchers found a similar split of secure and insecure attachment in a study of adult cats, which is similar to the results in studies on dogs and children.
This suggests that our cats can become attached to us in the same way that children and dogs do.
The research has been criticised by Professor Mills of the University of Lincoln. He argued that the study did not look at how the cats reacted with strangers.
So, do our cats bond with us or not? That really is down to the individual cat.
Interested in cat psychology? Find out more
Cat Care eBook
Animal Psychology eBook
Cat Psychology and Training – 100 hour distance learning course