Does your cat nudge your face or cuddle when you're sad? Does he hide in his favorite spot when you're mad or arguing with your significant other? Your feline friend knows your emotions and can often be that companion you need when you're feeling blue.
An Intuitive System
Cats and humans have similar hormonal, neurological and genetic makeups. No, your cat is not likely to scratch you when he's mad. But we express emotion in similar ways. For humans, crying could signal sadness. For your feline companion, a snub may be in order. They are, after all, independent creatures. Cats are even known to express grief at the death of a beloved owner.
Tuning Into Your Cat
Your cat has a heightened sense of sight and smell, which helps him tune in to your emotions. But how well do you know your favorite feline? Every cat is different, but there's common signals. The look in their eyes, their ears' position and tone says a lot. If your cat seems blue, talk to him. Cats respond to positive voices. Fluffy also shows happiness by arching his back up and down as you're petting him. If he crouches to the ground, he's likely uneasy. A thrashing tail means your cat is agitated and needs some time to himself.
Becoming Closer With Your Cat
As a responsible cat owner, it's important to know your cat's feelings, just like he knows you. When your cat cuddles with you after a long day, remember to return the favor. Animal behaviorist Warren Eckstein believes cats can become anxious or depressed if not acknowledged by their owners. "They may not react the same way, but they definitely feel the same emotions we feel," Eckstein said.
A Hissing Debate
The question of whether cats can sense our emotions has been a topic of debate among animal behavioral experts. It's hard to measure animal emotions since they have no way to actually say, "Mom, I hope you feel better." Scientists, according to Purina experts, can't exactly measure a cat's feelings and instead often ignore the behavior and how cats choose to express themselves. But ask any cat owner. They can tell you there's been more than one occasion that their cuddly loved one has cheered them up.
Crystal Owens is the managing editor at a Northern Virginia newspaper with more than 10 years experience in journalism. She has worked as a reporter in Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Georgia, covering various topics from crime to politics to health care. She studied communications at the University of North Florida.