About this Research Topic
Cats exceed dogs in their numbers as companion animals in the U.S. and much of Europe, despite them not filling working roles. In the past, their prowess as mousers on farms sometimes made them essential, but these days, many cats lead leisurely lives in people’s homes. What accounts for them becoming such appreciated family members? What are their behaviors that are so enticing? Exactly how do they respond to us? When are they preferred companion animals, more than dogs? What do we know about cultural differences in views about cats? Their growing popularity, and the relative paucity of data about owned cats living in homes, emphasizes the importance of monitoring their welfare.
The anthrozoological research literature on companion animals includes extensive studies of dogs, while contributing relatively few close looks at the special behaviors and traits of domestic cats that make them so desirable as companions. We know little about the dynamics of our interactions with cats and the attachment shared with them, which may differ in some ways for those we have with dogs. Nor have we identified the specific contexts where cats are particularly or uniquely compatible. How does the type of attachment affect and shape the bond/relationship between human and cat? How are cats as emotional support animals for people with special needs, especially autism? What new information do we have about the cognitive abilities of domestic cats, and how these abilities shape cats’ behavior and relationships with humans? How do early life experiences of cats influence their behavior as adults, or their successful integration into human households? Do cats fit best in certain residential settings, or with specific types or ages of people? This Research Topic provides an opportunity to update our understanding on the special qualities and behaviors of cats, and to scrutinize our mutual interactions with these companions.
Genetic influences on behaviors that humans care about are not well understood. While there are many different breeds of cats, purebreds as companion pets are infrequent compared with dogs. Some work has been done on breed-specific differences, but little with regard to looking at breed matches with particular households or human personality types.
Given the extreme popularity of cats, the limited scholarly information readily available regarding their behavior and interactions with us seems surprising. This Research Topic can provide an easily accessible resource to many very interested readers.
Keywords: cats, humans, interaction, human-cat, behavior
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