Can Cats Sense Sadness?

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Often, cats are unfairly represented as emotionless animals who show no care or consideration for their owners. It could not be further from the truth, as your feline can not only sense your sadness but will also probably try its best to remedy it. They can be susceptible animals and have been known to pick up on human emotions.


Since cats consider their owners part of their environment, any disturbance in your emotional state will be a disturbance in the background, and they will take it upon themselves to fix it. The time you’ve spent bonding with your cat will also influence its attachment to you and subsequent sensitivity to your sadness.


How Do Cats Sense Sadness?

Research is still being conducted on how exactly cats interpret human emotions like sadness. However, the current theory is that they use visual and auditory cues. Some also believe that our scent alerts our feline companions to our state of mind. Some body language cues cats use to gauge our sadness levels are explained in the table below.



How Cats Associate Them with Sadness?

Sad voice
Cats can recognize the tone of a human’s voice and sense when it is gloomy in contrast to their usual peppy style.
Unusual silence
If their human usually spends a lot of time talking to them or others on the phone, cats will recognize that something is wrong when their owner is unusually silent.
If their owners are active individuals who are always walking around the house or doing chores, cats will sense something is off if their owners seem listless or stay in bed all day.


Cats do not exactly recognize or interpret emotions as humans do. However, they form associations with your moods and body language over time with you and use it as a guide to interpreting your feelings.


How Do Cats React when They Sense Sadness?

Though not as outwardly affectionate as dogs, cats, too, have their way of dealing with their owner’s moods, especially when they’re sad. Reinforcement plays a considerable role in how they go about doing this.


They use experience and your interactions with them to decide how to cheer you up. If you’ve tried to be physically affectionate with them when you’re sad, chances are they’ll try to look for the physical affection again when they sense that you’re feeling particularly sad or low or having a bad day. Here are some ways cats attempt to deal with your sadness.


1. Clinging to You

It is common knowledge that many cat owners like to cuddle their pets when they’re sad. If your cat has been subjected to a lot of cuddling and scratching when you’ve been unhappy in the past, there’s a chance that they will prepare themselves for and even seek the same treatment when you show similar signs of being sad again.


For example, if you’re lying in bed a little more than usual, you might find them coming to join you under the warm covers for a little cuddle session. Even if they’re doing it for the prospect of some affection for them, they are still helping you out.


2. Comforting You

Cats have their way of comforting their owners. Most of the time, these methods prove very effective. They show their love for you by staying close to you and maybe purring and rubbing themselves against you.


They stick close to you when they sense you are sad, presumably hoping to cheer you up with their presence, which sometimes works. So if you find your cat constantly getting between your feet and generally not leaving you alone, that could be its way of trying to make you feel better and improve your depressing mood.


3. Staying Away from You

Some cats do not need to interfere in their owners’ issues. In this case, they will do their part by staying away from you while you are in a sad mood. This behavior may be helpful in terms of them not getting in your way, and some pet owners may prefer to have space.


Another reason is some cats cannot handle their owner’s less-than-happy days, so they make themselves as scarce as possible. They will probably return to normal once you feel better, and the cat will act as if nothing happened.


4. Causing a Distraction

Some cats try to cheer up their owners by distracting them from their sadness. It could be by attempting to draw them into a game or simply refusing to let them be on their own. You could find your cat crawling all over you, with playful bites or swats, or getting you small items as peace offerings.


Many owners are drawn into the play and appreciate this approach to their sadness. Whether it works or not, your cat will go all out to distract you from your bad day at work, and you might find yourself engrossed in the impromptu game of hide-and-seek.


Can Your Emotions Affect Your Cat?

While research on a cat’s ability to recognize human emotions is still ongoing, substantial studies state that cats can mirror their human owner’s feelings. If you’re anxious and stressed, your cat could pick up on that and become stressed out and worried too.



People having neurotic tendencies are likely to have overweight cats with stress-related medical problems. They are also prone to aggressive behavior. However, owners that have happy open personalities tend to have cats that are open and friendly as well with good temperaments.


If you think your cat has been absorbing a lot of your stress and seems sickly and lethargic, you could consider giving them the VETRISCIENCE Composure Calming Treats. It comes in a tasty liver flavor and will help reduce your cat’s anxiety and calm it down.




Cats are the most sensitive to human emotions, second only to dogs. So, if you’ve been having a bad day or week and you find your cat super clingy, it might be because they are trying to make you feel better. And remember to take care of your mental health so that your furry friend doesn’t feel the need to mirror your negative emotions and get stressed out too. Many people swear by cat therapy. Maybe spending a day bonding with your cat will make you feel better too.

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