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Cats vs. Dogs: Which Pet Loves You the Most?

A new scientific study proves that one species shows a love for their owner that's five times stronger than the other.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Cat owners and dog owners have always fought like, well, cats and dogs over the subject of which animal is more loyal, affectionate, and loving. And for years, it was all conjecture, until now.

 

Professor at Claremont Graduate University and neuroscientist, Dr. Paul Zak, has announced a quantitative answer. Recently, he made a recent breakthrough in his investigation into determining which species –- canines or felines -– prefer their human companions. As part of the BBC documentary series "Cats v. Dogs", Dr. Zak was asked to develop a "love test" to be used on pets. In this test, Dr. Zak and his team of researchers were supposed to measure the amount of oxytocin -– commonly referred to as the love hormone -– released in the blood of cats and dogs at the sight of their owners. In previous research, oxytocin levels were measured in dogs to determine their positive associations with their owners, but this same testing had never been done on cats. Both were put to the test. In two separate testing trials, the animal subjects -– 10 dogs and 10 cats -– were given several minutes of play time with their owners. Meanwhile, Dr. Zak and his team of researchers extracted saliva samples –- before and after play time –- from the subjects to be checked for changes in their oxytocin levels.

 

The result? Researchers noted a striking difference between the species: hormone levels increased by 57.2 percent in dogs but only 12 percent in cats. "I was really surprised to discover that dogs produced such high levels of oxytocin," Dr. Zak said to The Telegraph, "the dog level of 57.2 per cent is a very powerful response. It shows these dogs really care about their owners."

 

But cat-owners, don't fret. While that 12 percent may seem comparatively low, it still proves that cats make a positive association with their owners. "It was also a nice surprise to discover that cats produce any at all," Dr. Zak notes. "At least some of the time, cats seem to bond with their owners."

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But cat-owners, don't fret. While that 12 percent may seem comparatively low, it still proves that cats make a positive association with their owners. "It was also a nice surprise to discover that cats produce any at all," Dr. Zak notes. "At least some of the time, cats seem to bond with their owners."

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