One debate has been burning for many years: do cats really love their owners more than dogs? Many people have argued either side, but there haven’t been many studies to find out the truth. That is, until now.
Building a bond
Oxytocin is a chemical that is involved in all kinds of processes in our body, including building relationships and showing love. We know that dogs release oxytocin when they’re with their owner, but what about cats? Dr. Paul Zak wanted to find out an answer once and for all to see if cats really do love their owners more than dogs.
Creating a study
Paul started by taking saliva samples from 10 dogs and 10 cats. The pets were then allowed some time to play with their owners before Paul immediately took another saliva sample to compare the results. Here, he could look at oxytocin levels to see how much they had raised thanks to spending some fun time with their humans. Although Paul knew dogs released the chemical, he wanted to compare results from the same test.
The results were in, and it looks as though dogs have taken the title. The dogs averagely produced five times the amount of oxytocin than cats as their results raised by 57.2%. On the other hand, the cats’ oxytocin levels only averagely raised by 12%. The best bit? Half of the cats in the test didn’t even have an increase in the chemical by the end of their playtime.
Looking for reasons
Paul wanted to find a reason as to why the dogs had such an increase. In general, dogs have used oxytocin to bond with others in their pack. Plus, they are highly social creatures who crave attention. On the other hand, cats don’t usually rely on humans as much and are a lot less likely to build strong bonds with their owner.
There could have been some issues with the experiment. Paul admits that cats are territorial creatures who feel most comfortable when they are on home turf. Taking them into a neutral setting could mean the cats in the test felt uncomfortable and therefore were less likely to relax during their playtime than the dogs at the same facility.
The final verdict
The results seem to show that dogs get more of an oxytocin rush than cats when they play with their owners. However, this doesn’t mean that dogs love their humans five times as much as a cat. It just shows that their brains might be having more fun and bonding differently. Of course, all animals have their own ways of showing us just how much they really love us – or don’t.
Cats v. dogs is an argument that has raised many people’s hackles over the years. Some claim their pets value them more than others. Now, it looks as though we have the start of an answer as to whether cats love their owners more than dogs.