What Do Cats Think of Humans?



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If you have ever owned a cat or spent a lot of time around one, you know that these feline friends have more to them than meets the eye. They seem to understand us and have their criteria for communicating with us, which begs the question – what does our cat think of us?

What Do Cats Think of Humans. A tortoiseshell cat, head bumping someone's hand, sat on rocks.

We all hope our pets like us, and while cats can often seem detached or indifferent, this is often not the case. Cats do not show love and affection the same way dogs do. If you know what to look for, you will sometimes know what your pet feels.

A Cat’s Purr: What Does It Mean?

Cats’ purr is their most iconic trait and is one of their most frequently used communication tools.

Cats communicate many things when they nod and purr. They ask for your attention, whether for companionship, food, or to tell you they are satisfied being around you or by what you do to them.

However, it does not always mean they’re happy. Sometimes, purrs can also be them asking for help.

They also use the vibrating sensation caused by purring to soothe themselves and heal forms of bone damage. So if you see cats purring after injury or stress, it might mean they are trying to calm themselves down.

They also recognize that humans like their purring, and you might have sometimes experienced your cat purring around you when you are upset or visibly in duress. They’re considerate of their owners and use purrs to soothe.

Their purr can convey many messages, but how do they use this trait to show how they feel about you? Let’s find out!

If a cat purrs around you to convey different messages, it trusts you. However, it must first feel comfortable around you. Some cats are less shy and purr on their first encounter with humans, but others take much more time to open up. It depends on the context.

You know they’re appreciative if you hear them after a meal or a rub. However, if you find your cat purring randomly near a door or an object, it might be trying to show you something or asking you to open the door so it can go outside.

Overall, a cat that purrs regularly around you likes talking to you, so if you hear it often, know you are doing a good job!

Cat Owners: Friends, Family, or Feline Companions?

Are we friends with them? Do they think we’re their parents? Or do they think we are just other cats?

Cat behavior can be confusing. They think of it more along the lines of superiority and approachableness. However, they have evolved a lot with the times, and the impact of modern cities is not something they have ignored.

Cats have, over time, formed their own opinions of humans, and they are not that different from how we think!

Are You Your Cats Friend?

When a cat thinks of you, it might come and rub around your leg as a greeting. This implies they believe you are not a threat and are friendly.

Cats are smart. They can recognize the size difference between them and their surroundings, respect it and move accordingly. How do you think they get so good at leaping around? Interestingly, this does not stop them from thinking of themselves as your equals.

If you’ve ever seen a domesticated cat simply exist, it is pretty clear that they often do whatever they want without regard for humans around them. Likewise, dog behavior changes when humans are around, while cats act the same whether alone or not.

They groom humans, rub their legs, sit by them, knead their paws on them – a form of affection known as “making biscuits” and do everything else they would with other cats. Cats treat you the same as they do other cats.

So, it is safe to say they think of you as a bigger friend.

Do Cats Think of You As Their Parent?

Cats seem to be able to differentiate between different things they appreciate but still express it in the same way – much like a human.

They do not think you are their birth mother, but they display consideration and affection for their owners, similar to how they would treat their mothers.

The role of the family does not end there in their psyche. The mother-kitten relationship heavily influences domestic cat behavior. Cats are more on guard around strangers and behave very relaxed in their own homes and around their owners. They perceive you as a form of safety and comfort. This shows they can recognize you as an equal yet hold deep affection for you and act accordingly.

A cat behaves in many ways and has much more depth than you might think.

Do Cats Sense Your Feelings?

You might be wondering if their intelligence extends to being aware of the emotions of those around them – it does. For example, cats sense many of the feelings their owners express and have a sharp nose for fear.

What Emotions Can Pet Cats Pick Up?

Cats can pick up a lot of emotions because they recognize cues and signs in humans. For example, they might know if you are uncomfortable, anxious, stressed, or afraid. They also know if you are happy and settled.

Cats can even tell if you are hesitant to approach them. They often get nervous, too, if they sense that you are, so make sure you relax before approaching a new cat!

But how deeply do cats perceive and understand all these emotions? I answer this question in detail below.

Cats Dealing With Anxiety in Humans

Studies by the NCBI and Animal Cognition reveal that cats can pick up on anxiety and severe manifestations of it, such as panic attacks.

They look for anxiety cues from their owner and understand that the owner is distressed. For example, in a test done in one of the studies, several owners and their cats were brought in and put in a room with a person to observe them through a screen.

They were instructed to talk to their cats. Half of the participants had to use a happy tone, whereas half used a fearful tone.

It was discovered that cats would look toward their owner instead of the person watching. They would first wait for how their owner felt about the observer. People who used a happy tone also had happier and less stressed cats, whereas the other half had higher stress levels.

They could pick up on the participants’ fear – which was mostly natural due to being observed and reacting accordingly.

This shows something that many of us know: cats can mirror our behavior and emotions as humans do. They can pick up on your anxiety and be on guard if they recognize the source of your stress, but if they cannot and you are anxious – cats also come to comfort their owners by lying beside them; they might also purr.

How Cats Deal With Sadness and Depression in Humans

They comfort you the same way if they think you are depressed. When a person is depressed, they often show signs of lethargy and fatigue. Cats pick up on this and realize you are not feeling well.

They have a very sharp intuition for body language, whether you sit quietly or cry your heart out, no matter how you choose to display it. Different cats have varied behaviors and responses to their owners being down, but most can sense the shift in your behavior.

A cat might also comfort you with biscuits, where it kneads your belly when it thinks you are down.

Are Cats Social Animals?

Due to domestication over a long period, cats have evolved alongside humans. As a result, they have developed vocalizations and cognitive abilities specifically for recognizing human behaviors.

Did you know cats do not meow at other cats? Although we all associate meowing with cats, they only do it for us. Kittens might meow to alert their mothers, but as they age, adult cats grow out of it. This shows that cats can communicate with us, so if you hear constant meows, your cat might want to tell you something specific.

They also meow to bring your attention towards something. Generally, cats are very social creatures. However, they express it much more independently than dogs do, and not many engage in social behavior.

They have developed responses to the emotions that humans display. They’ll pick up on cues and exhibit similar behavior too. So if you’re feeling unwell, your cat might feel the need to comfort you!

Why Do Cats Like Humans?

You might think that since it is hard to gain their trust, they might not like us all that much. That’s not true! Cats form attachments relatively quickly.

While they are a bit harder to approach than other animals, they recognize that they must live in a world with an overflowing human population.

It is theorized that wild cats recognized humans as superior creatures at some point and decided to domesticate themselves so we would adopt them, and they would no longer need to seek shelter or hunt for food. This begs the question, who is the superior one?

Cats recognize your potential as a caregiver but also see your potential as someone they can communicate with. Often, they will respond to people depending on the mood of the person around them, says Emma Grigg, an animal behaviorist at UoC.

They also engage in playful behavior. Not many cats trip over people, but as a cat owner, even if you try to prevent it, you’ll end up tripping over your cat. It’s because they meticulously position themselves next to your feet.

They also change their opinions of you over time should any history develop between you. They withdraw their trust if you upset them too often, even if they consider you a friend. Of course, you can not slack off with them, and they keep you on your toes, but if you naturally know how to treat one, they can be one of the best friends you will make.

No one can ever fully claim to know what a cat thinks, but even if cats perceive themselves as an entirely different species, they do not seem to care, especially domesticated ones. Street cats are a bit more cautious of humans.

Cats have to live in a lot of environments dominated by humans. However, they are adaptable beings that change as their environment does and respond to environmental cues accordingly. In addition, their closeness to humans worldwide has led to them accepting life alongside us; as a result, developing their ways of interacting with us.

So you see, your cat has plenty of reasons to like you – it enjoys both the friendship and the benefits of living in a house with humans.

Final Thoughts on What Cats Think of Humans

Cats are not just creatures who act randomly. They have a very articulated method to their madness. They have communication skills resembling our own and think of us as beings they want to interact with!

They can easily recognize you as a threat and act accordingly. They can also show deep and personal affection and withhold that just for you. Getting a cat’s trust takes a lot, so value it highly.

They might treat you like their parents but still act as equals around you. They like their freedom, but they also like you. If you are good to a cat and you mean it, it will pick up on it and respond!

Before you go, you might find these articles helpful:

Why Do Cats Loaf

Why People Like Cats

Why Are Orange Tabby Cats So Affectionate

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