Can cats actually sense the emotions of their owners?

Cats are more than just pets.

They’re our housemates, our best friends, our family. 

They are there when we’re feeling happy, they’re around when we’re feeling down.

But can they actually sense our emotions? Do they know when we’ve had a bad day at work? Would they be able to tell if we’d just won the lottery?

It’s widely acknowledged that cats, being the highly intuitive creatures that they are, are capable of recognising different emotions, both in humans and other animals. 

This blog will delve a little bit deeper into this. 

How do we know what that cats can sense the emotions of their owners?

No matter how loving, or clever, your feline is, they’re not going to understand if you start telling them why you’re feeling on top of the world, or how you’ve ended up down in the dumps. 

We’re not saying, don’t talk to your cats – we do all the time. But it’s not through words they’re able to understand our emotions; it’s more through our actions. 

We’ll come on to the ways our cats are able to sense our emotions in the next section, but first let’s deal with the ‘how’ we know they can. 

You may have noticed whenever you’re feeling sad or depressed, your furry best friend moves a little closer to you. Some cats may even rub themselves up against their pet parent, or offer an empathetic purr, when they can sense they’re out of sorts.

Similarly, a pet parent who is feeling angry or frustrated may find they are being given a little more space than usual.

Our moods can have a direct effect on the behaviour exhibited by our felines, which tells us they are more in tune with us than we may ever be able to understand.

Now, some cats are going to be more emotionally perceptive than others. Just like with humans, cats have different personalities. And while one may come over to the sofa and snuggle up to you when you’re feeling down, another may only offer up a passing glance as they saunter on over to their food bowl. 

What are the main ways cats can sense our emotions?

  1. Visual observations. Felines are very observant animals. But did you know they can read our facial expressions? According to a study carried out by Oakland University researchers Jennifer Vonk and Moriah Galvan, if a cat sees their owner smiling, they are more likely to hang around them for longer.
  2. Tone of voice. It’s human nature that when something angers or annoys us, we have a habit of raising our voice. Cats’ ears are much more sensitive than our own, so if they hear you bellowing, even from a distance, they are going to keep out of your way, and possibly seek safe shelter, until they are confident things have calmed down.
  3. Body language. When faced with a scary or anxious situation, our bodies can automatically tense up. Cats can sense this. And to offer their reassurance, may begin paying you more attention.  If it’s a new, and uncertain, situation you are both encountering for the first time, your feline may see how you respond before forming a reaction of their own. 

Can cats get stressed when they sense it in their owners?

As well as cats being able to sense how we’re feeling, they’re also known to mirror our behaviour and mood. 

So, if something’s stressing you out, there’s every chance it could be stressing your cat out, too. 

Common signs your cat is struggling with stress or anxiety include hissing or growling, eating or drinking less, over-eating, scratching the furniture, and hiding. 

How can I calm my cat down?

No matter how hard we might try to hide our feelings, often it’s an impossible – not to mention, potentially unhealthy – task. 

Therefore, given how much time we spend with our beloved feline, the likelihood is they’re going to be ones who see us at our best – and worst – the most often. 

If you have been stressed lately – and you’ve noticed your cat reacting negatively to this – there are a number of things you can do to help calm them down. 

From simply spending more quality time together to playing soothing music; we offer plenty more tips in our ‘signs your cat is stressed (and what to do about it)’ blog. 

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