You don’t own a cat; the cat owns you. You may be the master of a dog but never of a cat. The cat is your master. But are these statements true or just popular anecdotal thoughts that have gone from generation to generation? Do cats feel happy when they see you, or do they not care at all? Do cats know when you are sad?
Questions like these must be on every pet lover’s mind. Whether you are a new pet parent of a fluffy kitty or have harbored the aloof animal. These popular beliefs could not be further from the truth. Cats are lovely animals that can feel happiness and sadness just like any other sentient being. It is just like their ability to express these feelings is different.
Do Cats Know When You Are Sad? What Does Science Say?
A dog drools over the floor and wags his tail like crazy when he sees you. A cat, on the other, seems indifferent to you. So it’s natural that your cat hates you, right? Wrong! Cats do not express their love the same. And I am not advocating for cats just because I happen to have a few myself. I may be a crazy cat man, but there is enough science backing my claim! Don’t believe me? Come follow along!
The Effects Of Domestication On Cats
It is said that humans domesticated cats about 12,000 years ago. One day a sharp-toothed wild kitty came near a fire to get some warmth, and centuries later, here we are. Cats dominate the internet, and there is no getting away from it!
According to science, cats are much better at recognizing places and other cats. This means they may not be able to see tears rolling down your eyes when you’re sad. But there’s more to it. Cats are mighty good at recognizing patterns. This means changes in your behavior and mannerisms when you are sad may trigger cat pattern recognition.
So the next time you’re feeling down and want to cry your heart out, your cats may be wondering what the heck is wrong with you. I don’t think they’re capable of judgments, but you wouldn’t want to risk it, would you?
Cats are also apex predators with a superior sense of smell, vision, and hearing. So while your cat might be able to know what’s going inside your heart, it can sure hear you bawl. The result can either spook your skittish cat or lead it to enquire what is causing the commotion as you cry.
There’s also one more thing that defines a cat’s behavior. It is your behavior and how you interact with her. If you often share a good bonding session with your cat and engage with her emotionally, a change in the regular schedule will be noticeable to her. Resulting in your cat knowing when you are sad.
The Science Of Behavior
According to multiple studies done by scientists and through personal experiences, we now know cats depend on their owners for guidance. They look at their owners to gauge how to react to new experiences. Since cats depend on humans for food (we are talking about the domestic ones), it makes evolutionary sense for them to understand human behaviors.
After all, if our mood dictates whether or not they are being fed. A sad mood can mean a lack of attention towards your cat or a late meal. So by logic, cats should be able to recognize this pattern in humans.
Interestingly, cats and humans share 90% of our DNAs, but it will be a stretch to expect both species have similar emotional expressions. But one thing is clear, cats do know how to express their feelings. They will purr when happy, make biscuits, knead when feeling safe, and hiss when angry.
Their aloof personality gives them a bad rap, and it is unfair to judge all animals by the same metrics. Cats are not social animals like dogs and like to stay mostly independently. But when a cat is domesticated, you become a part of the cat’s colony. You are expected to protect her territory and share equal responsibilities.
Cats As Therapy Animals
For the longest time, cats have been used to treat depression and loneliness in people. Often little kids suffering from stress and uncertainty are given cats as pets. It is down to the fact that cats are such low-maintenance animals.
They also require much less energy to be kept entertained. According to some studies, cats can also sense depression and anxiety in people. Cats depend on signals like social referencing, i.e, changes in the behavior of their humans in such cases. They rub their bodies and face against human when they perceive something is wrong.
Can we expect to be the same as therapy dogs? Of course not. Dogs are known to sense panic attacks, heart attacks, and even anxiety attacks in their humans. Some dogs can even give their human insulin shots if they pass out. But the comparison is an apple to oranges and unfair for cats.
Do cats know when you are sad? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Cat lovers will swear that their kitty will curl up on their lap whenever they feel sad. Or that one time, their cat licked the tear falling off their face. But for our furry friends, we should just be happy that they exist in our lives. They make the dark times a bit easy and give new definitions to feelings of unrequited love.