Is the cat less friendly to humans than the dog? Or simply, don’t they have the same ways to make us understand it? What do cats think of humans, and how to recognize their emotions?
In the common imagination, dogs are man’s best friends, and part of this idea comes from the fact that dogs and humans lived together and supported each other for a long time. Humans domesticated dogs about 30,000 years ago, while cats only started living with humans about 9,000 years ago.. In this scenario, dogs may have become more attached to humans simply because they have had more time to live with us.
Cats and humans: thoughts and meows
In any case, it is clear that cats and humans bond. In 2016, Michigan researchers studying feline psychology published an article to test how twelve cats responded to their masters. The cats were with their owners for a while, who smiled or pouted as appropriate.
Cats exhibited more positive behaviors, such as purring, or sitting on their owners’ lap, or rubbing against them, when the owners smiled. When cats spent time with strangers, their behavior did not change with either smiles or bronzes.
This led researchers to conclude that cats recognize the moods of humans, and also learn to understand facial expressions over time, probably spending time with the same person.
The emotions of cats
In another study, it was analyzed how cats respond to a stressful situation. The researchers placed the cats and their owners in a room with an electric fan to which green bows were attached. The bows and the moving fan served to visually represent something strange and potentially frightening for cats.
The study sought a behavior known as “social reference” in which, according to the concepts of psychology, the cat in practice refers to the facial expression of its human to know how to behave (this type of study was also done on dogs and children human). In other words, what cats simply think is that if the human is nervous, they too will be nervous.
When cats met the “monstrous fan”, 79% of cats looked at their owners. If the owners seemed worried about the fan, the cats started looking for a way out of the room faster than the cats whose owners seemed calm compared to the fan.
The cats with the owners nervous about the fan tried to get out of the room faster, but at the same time these cats were looking for the exit even before the owners made any expression. This makes it difficult to have a precise conclusion, but the researchers concluded that nonetheless human emotions and moods can influence the emotions of cats, which shows that what cats actually think of their human owners is a sense of emotional bond, just like in dogs.