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Home > Cats > Do Cats Know When You’re Sad? Felines & Human Emotions Explained

Do Cats Know When You’re Sad? Felines & Human Emotions Explained

jealous cat being possessive of its owner

Cats tend to be more independent than dogs, and they can sometimes act like they don’t care about how their human counterparts are feeling. However, under that rough and tough exterior, felines tend to bond strongly with their owners and start to develop a sense of what they’re feeling as time goes by. Whether a cat really cares or not, they do seem to know when their owner’s mood changes. But can your cat tell when you are feeling sad? It seems so! Here’s what you should know.


Research Suggests That Cats Can Recognize Emotion in Humans

A study published by the National Library of Medicine in 2020 states that felines can seemingly sense a human’s emotions via visual and auditory signals.1 Furthermore, the cats studied tended to mimic the emotions and behavior of the humans. In short, the study showed that felines understand the general representation of emotions based on facial expressions and bodily actions.

So, your cat may be able to tell when you feel sad because you are frowning, crying, making slow movements, and using a sullen voice. As a result, they may start to meow or display other symptoms of discomfort to “mimic” the emotions that you are feeling. Or, your cat might not do much more than simply stick by your side when they notice that you’re feeling sad. Cats don’t always show obvious signs that they are reacting to their owners’ emotions.

cat owner looking at her pet
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

Cats Don’t Stop at the Recognition of Sadness

Just as cats can recognize when their human companions are feeling sad, they can also detect when their humans have feelings of happiness, excitement, and anger. You might notice that when you argue with a family member or yell out in frustration after breaking something, your cat hides away in a corner or another room until you cool off.

When you seem excited about something, your kitty might get on the counter to try to get involved in the conversation. Whatever the situation, if you pay close attention to your cat’s behavior when you’re feeling intense emotions of any kind, chances are that you will recognize their specific reactions to those emotions.

Can Cats Feel Sadness Themselves?

While cats can feel a wide range of emotions like we humans can, it is unclear whether they feel and process those emotions in the same way that we do. Unfortunately, they can’t talk to us, so we don’t know exactly what they are feeling at any given time. The only clues that we have are their behaviors.

However, it’s safe to say that they do feel sadness and depression in some form. Keep in mind that cats are good at hiding their feelings, as they would have to do so in the wild to not be targeted as weak or easy prey. So, your kitty might try hard to not give away how they’re feeling unless they feel comfortable and safe enough to do so. Don’t expect your pet to be emotionally open when people besides your immediate family are around.

Ways You Can Tell That Your Cat Is Sad or Depressed

Even though your cat might prefer to keep their feelings to themselves, there are a few ways that you may be able to tell when they are feeling sad or depressed. One example is when they retreat from their preferred activities and hide away throughout the day. Your cat might also display their sadness and/or depression through the following behaviors:

  • Disinterest in self-grooming
  • Increased sleeping
  • Bathroom accidents
  • Lack of interest in family members

If you think that your feline family member is depressed or feeling sad for some reason, it’s a good idea to schedule a veterinarian appointment to make sure no underlying health problems are causing the emotional distress. Your vet can also provide ideas on how to combat the low emotions and get your kitty to feel like their old self again.


In Conclusion

The more bonded you are with your cat, the better they will be able to detect how you are feeling at any given time. Don’t shy away from the support that they offer when you are feeling down, as their love and cuddling can help make you feel better. Keep a close eye on your cat’s behavior when you’re feeling down, and you should pick up on signs that they’re feeling those emotions right along with you.


Featured Image Credit: zavalnia, Pixabay

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