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How Do Cats Know How We’re Feeling?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

You’re coming home, tired after a hard day’s work, sad that your life doesn’t unfold the way you were hoping to when you first started on this career path, and what do you notice? Your little furry friend comes to you appearing to understand the way you’re feeling and gives you a little love. How do they know? How do cats know how we’re feeling?

If you pay attention, you will notice that it’s not only when you’re sad that they come and cuddle, but they appear to read most your moods and react to them. And we thought all this time that cats are so distant and independent and don’t care about anyone else but themselves, right?

How Do Cats Know How We’re Feeling

There’s this general misconception going on around that cats don’t seem to care about us, but this is only in part true. It’s not that they don’t care but that they are a lot more independent than dogs and that they choose when to show affection and when not.

But while dogs are always there for us, cats can recognize our feelings and be there when it matters most.

Cats are Intuitive

In some ways, cats are like us. They as well have an intuitive system and similar genetic, hormonal and neurological structure that make them express emotion in a way that’s analogous to ours.

What Science Says

While it can be hard to study emotions in animals, evidence points in this direction that cats do have emotions too. Researchers have studied the brains of cats and compared the findings to those of humans and they’ve found out that felines have near identical brain structures to the ones we have, including the emotional system of our brain.

Their conclusion is that a cat’s brain reacts in almost the same ways to dopamine and serotonin, the two happiness hormones that make us feel love and affection.

Shutting down some parts of their brains through drugs was another way to determine how those parts remaining active reacted, and the results pointed again to the fact that cats are affective and emotional, very much like us.

Cats Can Learn Our Facial Expressions

Behavioral experiments show that cats are more in tune with our moods. There are studies which show that cats have learned to recognize the facial expressions of their owners and can react differently to their various expressions.

For example, in one experiment, cats were more likely to get into positive behaviors when their owners were smiling than when they were not.

But, in the same experiment, when meeting strangers, cats behaved in the same way no matter the person’s facial expressions, thing which points to the fact that recognizing human facial expressions is a learned behavior for cats.

As a conclusion we can state that, contrary to what most of us used to think, cats do have emotional intelligence. And that our little furry friends do have a certain interest in us and how we feel and they can further learn to read and cope with our moods. Which is great news, isn’t it?

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