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Do cats know when you are sad?

It’s safe to say that all cat parents love their little felines madly, often to the point of humanizing them, albeit unintentionally. We put clothes on them, take them on vacations, have snacks of many flavors to keep them happy and buy incredibly comfortable beds. So it is not uncommon to fantasize that our cats understand us entirely to the point of recognizing when we are not in the mood, just as a dog would. But do cats know when you are sad? And what do they do about it?

If you have ever wondered if your cat can recognize your emotions and, particularly, know when you are sad or depressed, keep reading. You will indeed be surprised.

Can cats sense sadness?

The reality is that we will rarely know with certainty how a cat thinks and perceives the world or even how it interprets or understands emotions. So we can’t say with complete confidence that cats know when their human is sad or glad, simply because we don’t know if they can process a feeling as well as we do.

can cats sense sadness

Likely, a cat doesn’t understand that when you are sad, you feel bad, hopeless, and exhausted, but what it can do, is learn to detect changes in your usual behavior to know how to respond to you best. It’s like when someone speaks to you in a language you don’t know, you won’t understand what they have said, but if you see that they have a relaxed attitude, you will smile, and if they speak to you with an aggressive tone, you will try to move away or try to calm them down.

Your cat knows your usual way of being, your tone of voice, your habits, even your smell, so when something changes, no matter how small, your cat notices it, and curious as he is, he wants to know what’s going on. So when you cry, you may see your cat observing you for a while, trying to figure out what’s going on, and most likely trying to get you to go back to your usual mood, which could be interpreted as your cat trying to cheer you up because he knows you’re having a hard time.

Felines are observant and, of course, have memory, so if you were ever sad and went to cuddle with your cat (this has a calming effect on humans) and then you stopped crying or your breathing returned to its normal rhythm, your little fur ball noticed and stored it in its hard drive. The next time you’re sad, your kitty will most likely reach out to you for a hug or a cuddle, hoping the same thing will happen as last time.

In a way, we could say that they realize something is wrong and want to fix it.

Do cats know when you are sad? Cats and human emotions

Cats are animals that for centuries have been domesticated to the point of competing with dogs for the position of human’s best friend. Throughout this cycle of domestication, cats have adapted and become increasingly friendly, allowing them to interact better with their human families and other companion animals.

Part of this adaptation is their varying degrees of understanding of human emotions. It is a complex subject, as we can hardly interview a cat to ask if it knows how to distinguish between emotions or if it only separates between good and bad feelings.

do cats know when you are sad - human emotions

Chances are your cat won’t understand that you’re melancholic, but if you’ve been lying in bed all day, it can comprehend that you’re not feeling well. Cats won’t understand that you are homesick or that you are heartbroken.

Still, they do know how to identify the cues you send them, whether they are auditory, with a lower or mournful tone of voice, with smell, as our body odor changes, and of course, visual signals, such as crying or a frown. And it is to these signals that a cat responds, either to try to recover your good mood or to join you in your happiness and take advantage of some good petting.

How do cats respond to human emotions?

Cats are brilliant, and because of their daily living and their bond with their humans, they have learned to respond to different scenarios and emotions. When you are sad or depressed, or perhaps when you are stressed or having an anxiety attack, you can expect your cat to react in one of the following ways, primarily if after your cat responds in this way, you reward him with a petting in his favorite spot, a walk or a tasty treat, thus encouraging his response.

Do cats get sad?

Of course, cats are susceptible animals, capable of feeling happy and sad, even to the point of developing anxiety and presenting symptoms similar to ours. Many situations can make a cat feel stressed or depressed, from moving house to losing a human companion (feeling lonely) or favorite pet to being left alone regularly.

A sad cat will be much more lethargic, will eat less or stop eating, could be more clingy than usual, may have no energy to play or go for walks, may relieve itself outside the litter box, and, in severe cases, may develop obsessive attitudes such as excessive grooming.

When you know that a significant change has occurred in your cat’s life, you should watch for signs to know when he is depressed so that you can help him just as he does you when you are feeling down.

do cats know when you are sad - do cats get sad

Do cats know when you are sad? Footnote

There is still a lot of research to be done to better understand the secret world of cats. Still, with what is currently known, we can say that even if a cat doesn’t understand one hundred percent what sadness is, it can be empathetic to its favorite human to the point of helping him feel better.

Now that you know the answer, it is your turn to be there for your feline friend and help him in those moments of stress or sadness. Your cat loves you; always remember that! So don’t hesitate to hug him now and then, take a walk together, or sit with him in silence. Those little things can go a long way, not only for us but also for our beloved cats. After all, cats are family too!

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