Is the cat less friend to man than the dog? Or just don’t they have the same ways of letting us know? What do cats think about humans, and how to recognize their emotions?
Dogs are commonly believed to be man’s best friend, and part of that idea comes from the fact that dogs and humans have lived together and supported each other for a long time. Humans domesticated dogs around 30,000 years ago, while cats only started living with humans around 9,000 years ago. In this scenario, dogs may have bonded with humans more simply because they had more time to live with us.
Cats and humans: thoughts and meows
In any case, it is clear that cats and humans bond. Researchers test how twelve cats responded to their owners. The cats were with their owners for some time, who depending on the case smiled or sulked.
The cats exhibited more positive behaviors, such as purring, or sitting on the lap of the owners, or rubbing against them, when the owners smiled. When cats spent time with strangers, their behavior did not change either with smiles or pouting.
This led the researchers to conclude that cats recognize the humors of humans, and also learn to understand facial expressions over time, possibly spending time with the same person.
The emotions of cats
In another study, they looked at how cats respond to a stressful situation. The researchers put the cats and their owners in a room with an electric fan that had green bows attached to it. The flakes and the moving fan served to visually represent something strange and potentially frightening to cats.
The study was looking for a behavior known as “social reference” in which, according to the concepts of psychology, the cat basically refers to the facial expression of its human to know how to behave (this type of study has also been done on dogs and humans children). In other words, what cats simply think is that if the human is nervous, they will be too.
When cats encountered the “monster fan”, 79% of cats looked at their owners. If the owners seemed worried about the fan, the cats started looking for an exit from the room faster than the cats whose owners seemed quiet compared to the fan.
Cats with owners nervous compared to 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 expressions. This makes it difficult to have an accurate conclusion, but the researchers nonetheless concluded that human emotions and moods can influence the emotions of cats, which demonstrates that what cats actually think of their human owners is a sense of emotional bonding, just like in dogs.