It's common knowledge that dogs are proud protectors of their humans, sometimes putting their own lives at risk to save them, or spending the rest of their days loyally laying across graves of passed away owners. But can the same be said of cats?
Our feline friends are better known for being aloof and standoffish, but it turns out they can be just as protective of their human families as their dog frenemies.
A recent event in Brisbane, Australia, highlighted this bond. A family cat, Arthur, fought until his death trying to protect his human family's two young children from a venomous snake. The kids were kept safe thanks to Arthur's bold and brave moves, but sadly he was bitten and passed away a day later, reported the veterinary center that treated him.
The animosity between cats and snakes is no new tale, and cats are indeed predators of smaller creatures, enjoying a good hunt from time to time, but these instinctive acts have generally been seen as unrelated to human connection.
So are cats protective of their humans, or are they acting on instinct?
Animal behaviorist Dr. John Bradshaw highlighted in National Geographic that natural instinct is the crucial part to remember when it comes to cats jumping in to seemingly save the day. In Bradshaw's view, cats are most likely following their instincts above anything else.
However, in another research paper published in the scientific journal Nature, cats are proven to truly bond with their caregivers — just as much as young children bond with their primary caregivers.
The study highlights an experiment that saw 70 kittens and 38 older cats reunited with their owners after having spent time in an unfamiliar environment. It turns out, 64.3 percent of the cats directly approached their owners or nuzzled them, a similar percentage to when children were reunited with their primary caregivers, in a clear display of friendship and bonding.
It looks like a mixture of bonding and instinct creates closeness, and even protectiveness, between cats and their owners.
To further prove this point, there have been extraordinary instances when cats have saved human lives. For instance, a stray cat, Masha, wrapped herself around an abandoned baby boy and kept him warm until emergency services picked him up. And as an emergency worker carried the baby to the vehicle, Masha followed them and meowed "pitifully."
In 2014, Tara the cat fought off a dog attacking a four-year-old boy. In 2012, a young stray cat, Pudding, was adopted by a mother and her son. When the mother fell into a diabetic coma in her sleep, Pudding jumped onto her and nudged her until she woke up, giving the mother enough time to shout out to her son for help. Having sensed this, Pudding then ran to the son's room and pounced on him until he woke up, when he was then able to call emergency services.
There are countless accounts of cats using their senses, instincts, and perhaps even close bonds, to protect and save humans. So, it looks like dogs have strong contenders when it comes to showing love and devotion.