Why cats won’t punish a stranger who harms you

DM

If a stranger harms you, your dog will not look kindly upon them. But your cat won’t react the same way. Here’s why. There’s an old stereotype about the difference between cats and dogs. Dogs are loving and fiercely loyal, they say, while cats are aloof and indifferent. Most cat people probably disagree – I certainly find it hard to believe, with my cat purring away in my lap, that she doesn’t care about me. Overall, cat cognition research suggests cats do form emotional bonds with their humans. Cats seem to experience separation anxiety, are more responsive to their owners’ voices than to strangers’ and look for reassurance from their owners in scary situations. But a new study, by researchers in Japan, complicates the picture of our relationship with cats. Adapting a method previously used to study dogs, the researchers found cats – unlike dogs – don’t avoid strangers who refuse to help their owners.

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