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By Maya Rhodan
September 4, 2015

Your cat doesn’t really need you, new study suggests.

According to a new study published in PLOS One journal, cats show little to no separation anxiety when they’re away from their owners and if/when they decide to stick around their human, it’s because they really want to.

Researchers studied the behavior of 20 cats after being placed in an unfamiliar location with their owner and with a stranger. The results suggest that our feline friends show little to no signs of distress when left alone in strange environments.

“Although our cats were more vocal when the owner rather than the stranger left them with the other individual, we didn’t see any additional evidence to suggest that the bond between a cat and its owner is one of secure attachment,” researcher Daniel Mills, professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, told the Telegraph.

Animal experts, however, say that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Cats don’t need humans to feel safe, and if they’re unhappy they have no qualms with walking out and not looking back. Therefore, when they feel comfortable enough to stay, they really mean it.

The study, too, is small and highly interpretative. Cats display distress and emotion in a variety of different ways — so perhaps your cat is different.

Write to Maya Rhodan at maya.rhodan@time.com.

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