You come home from a hellish day. You had an issue with a coworker, your kid got a note home because she forgot her homework (again), and you got a parking ticket to boot. In short, you’re in a miserable mood. So when you walk through your front door and your cat appears, you’re just not feeling it to rub her. Then she meows at you, and you can tell that she isn’t looking for her next meal, but that she actually feels your pain. Are you a crazy cat lady for thinking this, or can cats tell if you’re sad?
Cats often get a bad rap for being aloof and self-centered, as Scientific American reported. And while that might be true for some felines, (and, you know, some humans, too), that may not be the case for your kitty, and especially so when you’re somber. “A cat or any pet can tell that you are sad,” Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian in Texas, tells Romper. “They sense the change in your behavior and know that you’re upset.” Some cats will even try and comfort you when you’re sad — they might lie in your lap and lick your face or hands.
But how can you determine if your cat really understands what you’re going through, or it’s just an attempt at getting fed faster? You might need to observe your cat’s behavior over time, Shadi Delshad, an animal behaviorist, tells Romper. “If your cat consistently comes to you when you’re sad, then your cat is probably aware of your mood shift,” says Delshad.
In fact, you and your cat may share a connection far beyond feedings. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, chances are your kitty is, too. “Some cats will also become depressed if their owners are sad,” advises Dr. Ochoa. “They sense these feelings and will try to spend more time with you and comfort you.” So if you’re slumped on the couch having a bad spell, your cat might also lie down next to you and be lethargic.
And just like your cat can tell if you’re feeling blue, you can also observe if your kitty isn’t feeling like himself, either. “Cats that are sad will hide more,” says Dr. Ochoa. “They won’t move from a certain place for a long time, or you’ll notice them no longer wanting to do things that they have always loved to do.” Their sad state might also adversely affect their appetite, and they may not want food or even catnip.
Although your cat might prefer his creature comforts and being independent, he still loves you a whole lot, too. So knowing that your kitty can empathize with your emotions just might make him even more of the cat’s meow than he already is.
Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian
Shadi Delshad, animal behaviorist