Do cats miss their owners when they’re apart? I think it’s something every kitty parent wonders as we head out the door to go to work each day. Cats seem to fall into two distinct categories when it comes to how they react when you’ve been away and come home.
First, you have the cat who greets you at the door with his demonstrative “mreow” (you know the one – the half purr, half meow noise), threading himself through your legs until you scoop him up to scratch him behind the ears while he head-butts your hand.
Second, you have the cat who leaves herself planted wherever she is, regardless of your return, knowing she will see you eventually (probably once it’s time for dinner).
If your cat is in the first group, you probably have a very different answer to the question, “Do cats miss their owners?” than if your cat is in the second group.
This is a highly contested topic, partly because cat owners who do have loving cats feel very strongly that their kitties are attached to them and genuinely missed them while they were away. If you look at any pet forums, you will find that most cat owners say without reservation that their cats miss them when they are gone.
Science disagrees with those owners. A study published in 2015 in the journal PLOS ONE concluded that cats do not form a secure attachment to their humans, although Professor Daniel Mills who led the study did say
the “findings don’t disagree with the notion that cats develop social preferences or close relationships, but they do show that these relationships do not appear to be typically based on a need for safety and security.”
I can get onboard with those findings. My cat needs me in order to feel secure (“secure attachment”) is not required for my cat to enjoy being around me and wanting to spend time with me. International Cat Care’s website explains that “Cats have no biological requirement for companionship like dogs (and humans) – they are happy on their own.”
It’s important to remember, too, that each cat is unique. If your cat has been part of your family since she was a kitten, and she got lots of love and snuggles as a kitten,
she is likely to grow into a cuddly and loving adult. On the flip side, if you welcomed an adult cat into your family, his ways are already set and he may never show much interest in your whereabouts.
Whether you have a cat in group A or a cat in group B, you and your cat have determined what works well for your relationship, and that’s all that matters!