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How Do Cats Sense Human Emotions?

by Victoria
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Our kitties are seriously intuitive animals. Yes, they can be sassy and seem aloof sometimes… BUT, there is one thing for sure – our cats know how to make us feel better. We wouldn’t have them as part of the family if that wasn’t true. Many of us cat owners do wonder, though – how do cats sense our human emotions? Is it some kind of cat superpower?

Maybe. What we do know for sure is that cats have some impressive skills that allow them to keep up with all of our emotions.

how do cats sense human emotions

So, How Do Cats Sense Human Emotions?

There are a few ways that cats identify the feelings of their humans. It all comes down to our cats’ amazing sensory skills. Because our little guys are natural-born hunters, they use their senses to keep up with everything around them, including our emotional behavior. This goes from observing us, to listening to us, to even smelling us.

Yes, cats essentially analyze us in every way. They know that we are their protectors, part of their family. So, cats rely on our actions and behaviors when dictating their own actions too. This may sound surprising, as cats are wildly independent. Don’t get us wrong – cats still are very independent of their owners. They are also survivors, who want to protect themselves and their families at all times.

So, how do cats catch on to our human emotions? In a couple of ways…

Cats Listen When We Talk

Cats have incredible ears. They have the ability to hear pitches and sounds that humans can’t. Of course, going back to their hunting genes, this comes as no surprise. Without excellent ears, a hunter is lost.

With that said, cats love to listen to us. They remember the changes in the tones of our voices. Cats notice when we raise our voice when we are aggravated and lower it when we are calm. You may notice your cat listening by their change in behavior. When we are upset, and our voice is loud, our cats will most likely run and hide. The loud pitch of our voice is frightening to their ears.

how do cats sense human emotions?

Cats Can Identify Facial Expressions

A cat’s eyesight may not be its strongest sense, but it is still one they use strategically. One way is to analyze how their human is reacting to the situation. A study conducted by Jennifer Vonk and Moriah Galvan in 2015 revealed that cats catch on to our expressions, especially more positive ones like smiling. Cats are more likely to engage with their humans by purring and rubbing up on our legs when they notice us smiling. It is like our cats gravitate towards positive energy, so to speak.

Do Cats Know How to Comfort Us?

It is clear that cats can pick up on human emotions. We mammals all have emotional systems and the sensory skills to pick up on emotions around us. But, since our felines are obviously not human, they have very different reactions to our emotions.

As mentioned before, when we are angry and upset, a cat is more likely to run away than to sit and try to console us. This is due to a cat’s innate response to loud sounds. This doesn’t mean that our cats don’t care about our emotions. But, it does show that cats are the more self-interested when it comes to assessing our emotions. Cats are more concerned with how our behaviors may affect them. So, if we’re angry and crying, and our cats know that this usually comes with loud screams, our cats may choose to run and hide from the noise to protect themselves.

The same goes for the opposite situation. When we are happy, we give our cat scratches, snuggles, and treats. So, when our cat notices signs of our happiness, they’ll definitely stick around.

Of course, in a perfect world, we wish our cats could react a little differently. Or, just talk to us altogether. But, let’s be real – that would take away the unparalleled attitude and mystery of our kitties. What we know is that our cats do know how we are feeling. They just have their own way of showing it.

how to cats sense human emotions

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