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Can Cats Know When You’re Feeling Down?

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Cats sure have a unique way of feeling us out, especially when we’re down in the dumps.  

People sometimes think cats are a bit aloof or distant, especially when compared to our bubbly canine pals. Dogs, our age-old buddies, got to hang out with humans way before cats did.  

So, they’ve had a bit more practice reading our moods, including our gloomy days. But, after spending some more time with our whiskered friends, could it be that cats can sense when we’re upset?

Spending so much time at home lately might’ve given your cat a bit more insight into your feelings, says Dr. Ragen McGowan, a pet behavior pro at Purina. “Cats have grown more attached to their pet parents and may be able to better interpret their human’s sadness.”

Can Cats Feel Our Blues?

Well, we can’t exactly have a heart-to-heart chat with our cats, right? But, they’re definitely curious little things, always watching and listening.  

And scientists are just starting to dig into how cats might pick up on our feelings. Here’s what they might be looking at:

Smells

Cats use their noses to get to know us, Dr. McGowan mentions. But, do we give off certain smells when we’re sad? And can cats pick up on them? The jury’s still out on that one.

What They See

Feeling like a good sob? Here’s a fun tidbit from Dr. McGowan “While cats have great visual recognition of other objects, research shows that cats have a difficult time recognizing human faces” So, you can cry your heart out, and your cat might not give a second glance.

But there’s one thing they’re sharp at noticing: where you’re looking. “Cats are sensitive to gaze—where our eyes are looking. And they use this to assess our mood or intentions,” she says. Try a slow blink, and who knows, you might just have a silent chat with your purring pal.

What They Hear

Ever tried chatting with your cat over the phone or on a video call? I have! It’s pretty clear they know our voices. “Cats can distinguish human emotional state based on the tone of voice, or if the human is making “sad” or “happy” sounds,” says Dr. McGowan. So, they’re not just hearing us, they’re feeling us out too.

Do Cats Get Our Feelings?

Ever had your kitty give you the big-eye while you’re having a teary moment? What’s up with that? “Your cat is most likely staring at you while crying because they’re trying to make sense of what they see and hear,” McGowan hints.  

They might not get why humans sob, but they’re definitely on the lookout for signs to figure out your mood.

Turns out, if you often cuddle your cat when you’re down, she might link your sad vibes with some extra love coming her way.

Now, do cats really grasp our human-style blues? Experts are still scratching their heads on that one. But, there’s a silver lining. Cats seem to have a knack for being there when we’re down in the dumps.  

“When pet parents are depressed, cats rub against them more often. It’s likely your cat is responding to your emotional state by trying to comfort you or draw your attention,” McGowan observes. 

How Our Moods Touch Our Furry Pals

No doubt, our fluffy friends boost our spirits. A simple stroke of their fur can send us to cloud nine. But, ever wondered how our ups and downs impact them?  

“Research has found that owners and their cats mirror each other’s well-being and behavior,” notes McGowan. “Similarly, a Purina survey found that 71 percent of surveyed cat owners agree that they feel their cat is stressed when they are stressed.”

Bottom line? Keeping our minds in check is good for us and our furballs. Feeling down? Give your cat some love. And if you see your cat acting jittery ’cause of your mood, McGowan advises spicing up her space and checking with the doc about possibly giving her something to calm her nerves. 

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