A new study shows that female cats respond differently to their kittens than male cats.
The study, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, says that female cats are more responsive to kittens they perceive to be frightened or upset, even if they were not mothers themselves, The Washington Post reported.
The study was conducted with 17 adult cats and 16 kittens. Kittens were recorded in low and high states of arousal (don't worry, none of the test subjects were injured during the study). These audio recordings were then played back to unrelated cats, The WaPo reported.
The cats responded 61 percent of the time, either by stopping eating or turning their heads toward the sound. Female cats reacted 10 percent more quickly to high-arousal cries, the WaPo said.
Meanwhile, the adult male cats, to put it in laymen terms, couldn't have cared less, although a few did look toward the speaker playing the kitten noises, according to the WaPo. Whether this was out of concern or annoyance is unknown.
The WaPo reported that the study's co-author said that the cats so enjoyed the experiment (and the milk they got to consume during testing) that some didn't need to be coaxed or carried into the testing room.