Who loves their human more?

It’s a common bone of contention between “cat people” and “dog people”: Do dogs or cats love their human more? A study now seems to agree with dog lovers…

"I love you both equally"thinks this elderly gentleman with his pets - Shutterstock / Budimir Jevtic

“I love you both equally,” thinks this elderly gentleman with his pets – Shutterstock / Budimir Jevtic

Ten dogs and cats each with their humans were invited to the study. First, the animals’ saliva was taken before they played with their owners, then again after a ten-minute game session. Afterwards, the saliva was examined for its oxytocin content to see whether it had increased as a result of playing together.

Dogs produce more oxytocin when in contact with humans

Oxytocin is also known colloquially as the “cuddle hormone”. Among other things, it is said to have an influence on feelings such as love, calm and trust. In the experiment, oxytocin levels increased by an average of 57.2 percent in dogs, while they remained unchanged in half of the cats. In the other 50 percent of the velvet paws, the oxytocin level increased by an average of twelve percent.

The increased oxytocin level leads to the conclusion that dogs like their people better than house tigers. This suggests that the dogs’ bond and affection for their owners might be stronger as they produced more “cuddle hormones” during the brief interaction. However, the study does have its weaknesses. Testing only ten animals at a time cannot really be considered representative. In addition, it is quite possible that the cats were more stressed and distracted by the unfamiliar environment than the dogs. After all, dogs are used to being somewhere else all the time with their people, while cats are more used to staying at home and, at least when they are outdoors, to decide for themselves if they want to go somewhere else.

Meeting cats and dogs is often a communication issue — Image: Shutterstock / Nikoner
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Cats love their people too

The question of who loves their people more cannot be answered that easily. For this one would have to look at more animals in their familiar surroundings and compare whether there is a difference in the interaction with the favorite people and with strangers. But the main thing is that we know best that our dog or cat has taken us into their little hearts and that it is mutual.

Dogs and cats sometimes have very different ways of showing their humans how much they like them. There are also different characters and personalities within the species – some dogs and cats are more introverted or extroverted than others, some take a little time to warm up and some are particularly affectionate and cuddly. But they are all adorable.

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