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Old 11-06-2009, 09:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do cats know when you're sad?

I'm a new cat owner, and every single day my girls surprise me with a new level of their undeniable intelligence and complex personalities. I thought having a cat or two would be like having an interactive stuffed animal that I took care of. Instead, having my two cats is more like sharing my home with two very aware and sentient individuals. I've been surprised over and over by their depth.

Well, I was rather emotional earlier. My fiance is an officer in the Army, and is currently serving in Iraq. I hadn't heard from him in over a week, and I can't help but worry. I got a quick email from him and he said their patrol base had been attacked by mortars. Nobody was hurt, but I had a minor break down. I worry so much, but I convince myself that nothing bad will happen. And then when something DOES happen, it's just rough I guess.

So anyways. I was pretty sad about that, and letting myself have a good cry. My sweet little cats seemed to understand that "mamma" wasn't herself. Both of them, including my spazzoid of a kitten that can't sit still for 10 seconds, were crawling all over my lap, licking my fingers, and meowing. My older girl is a lap cat, but she has never been *this* snuggly. It was like they couldn't get close enough to me. They were both purring furiously and just being affectionate on a whole new level. After a few minutes they'd go play and wrestle and do all kinds of acrobatics but they'd always jump back on my lap and do the excessive affection display again. As if they were trying to cheer me up.

Anthropomorphosism (giving animals human emotion) is one of my pet peeves. I try to think logically about animal behaviors. But this kinda blew me away. I have never seen either one of them act like that. I have also never cried in front of either of them. When I had gotten myself under control, they both went back to normal.

Anyways, do you guys think that cats understand the emotion of sadness? Or is there some logical explaination for their behavior?
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Cleo is my nurse/Mom/best friend with I'm sad or in pain. She talks me through it and never leaves my side when I need someone. She's my little empath.

The twins were very concerned when they saw me cry the other day. But they were mostly confused as they usually don't see that.

Cinderella surprises me at times and is cuddly right when I need it.

They are very small, furry, unexpected, amazing little bundles of contradiction, mystery and love, aren't they?
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Old 11-06-2009, 10:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Absolutely....they pick up on our emotions and illness. They know when something ain't right. My first cat, Onyx, was never very a lap cat, she would lay next to me but never on me. Then I started having gall bladder attacks. I'd wake up in the middle of the night in severe pain. The only way to get comfortable was on the living room recliner. I'd go downstairs with a blanket and Onyx would lay in my lap. As it subsided, I would fall asleep and she wouldn't leave until I woke up feeling better.

When I lost Onyx, Callie was in my lap the entire day, she never left me. Maggie took on the comfort role when I lost Callie, which was completely unheard of because Maggie hardly ever let me pet her, let alone lay with me and snuggle.

When my father had a hear attack and was in the hospital having bypass surgery, I was staying at their house for a few days and took Onyx with me. She hung out with my mother, sleeping with her instead of me and generally stayed by her side. She was such a comfort to my mother that when I was going home for a few days, my mother asked if Onyx could stay. I was going back and forth quite a lot, Onyx ended up staying there for 2-3 weeks, till the worst of it was over and my father was home.
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

I believe that animals have emotions themselves, and because they understand what they go through they are able to recognize when we are experiencing something similar. A great portion of that could be attributed to how well they 'speak' with their silent languaage (body language) and their great skill at reading body language could also help them with understanding their human families. IMO, the more time we spend with our animals, the closer we become and *both* are able to understand so much more than most people realize. I have had up to a dozen cats at one time and from a room away, if I heard a meow or any other of the many cat-noises they make, I could tell you who spoke and quite possibly what they wanted based on the sound of their meow. If *I* can do that, then our pets can certainly learn and understand much, much more, about us than we've ever dreamed imagineable.
Marmalade always knew when I was feeling sad and would come and demand attention and lap-time. Mister, if I made a sound (laughing, crying, sneezing, whatever), would come running and querying: "Mow-wow-wow-wow-wow?" to check on me. Some cats are just very 'tuned' to their people.
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Oh, how sweet! I absolutely think cats know when there's something wrong.

What they do about it varies from cat to cat, of course. Once when I settled down for a good cry Stormy jumped on the bed, and just when I thought, "Aww, she's here to comfort me!" she started attacking my head! I suspect this was a "Don't do that in the open where you might attract predators! If you're going to be in visible distress, do it under the bed where it's safe!" But I must say it didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.

I'm glad your kitties are a little more sensitive in the comfort department!

Best wishes to you and your fiance. I hope he stays safe and comes home to you soon!
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

I had an experience with Dante that I can only describe as him trying to console me, it wasn't nearly as scary a situation as having a loved one in the war, but I had found out that I couldn't graduate when I wanted to so I was mad at myself for not paying closer attention so I was pretty upset and crying. Dante jumped up on my desk beside me and reached a paw out to bat at my tears as if to say "There, there, don't cry". He even looked concerned. It of course made me laugh and feel a bit better so I definitely agree with you that they can tell when we're having a bad day.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by prairienights

Anthropomorphosism (giving animals human emotion) is one of my pet peeves. I try to think logically about animal behaviors. But this kinda blew me away. I have never seen either one of them act like that. I have also never cried in front of either of them. When I had gotten myself under control, they both went back to normal.
Cats (and other animals) don't have human emotions, but they do have emotions, and sometimes these are very similar to human emotions. There's a great deal of research going on into the social lives of animals. The one that's quoted most at the moment is of the female gorilla in a German zoo whose baby had died. It grieved for three days and would not let go of the baby.

On a somewhat lighter note there is my recent experience with Zenobi. She had been sleeping on a blanket, but I bought her a pet bed. When I put it beside her she stepped into it in a ladylike way, but after that she didn't use it. Because of anxiety problems over using her litterbox that must stem from a previous situation, she took to running and hiding in the second bedroom when she'd used her litterbox. I thought that maybe there would be a good place for the bed and I took it in and put it down beside her and left. About ten minutes later I heard a funny noise and went to see. Zenobi wasn't there but the bed looked as if it had been pushed as it had moved about twelve inches. I assumed then, that the funny noise was Zenobi's anger. I took the bed back to where it had been, and she has since used it there. Two emotions here. Fear and anger. I know from an early experience when I brought her home that she is capable of fierce anger. But as I said, these are emotions similar to human emotions, but not.

I've been thinking recently about Rene Descartes. He said, "I think, therefore I am." But apparently he believed animals were automatons with no thoughts. If you turn his saying around, then according to him, animals cannot exist.

Cats are very loving (?) creatures, and yes they can tell when things are not going right. Obviously they don't know what is wrong, but the can detect changes in the people they care for. I won't call it love, but then caring for someone might just be a definition of the elusive definition of that state. (I hope all that ramble makes at least a little sense and helps.)
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Old 11-07-2009, 04:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by prairienights
I thought having a cat or two would be like having an interactive stuffed animal that I took care of.
you really shouldnt be owning animals if you think that way
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperDanniiiiiiii
Quote:
Originally Posted by prairienights
I thought having a cat or two would be like having an interactive stuffed animal that I took care of.
you really shouldnt be owning animals if you think that way
Was there really any need to be so rude?


Back on topic - my best friend is heavily pregnant and has cats. One of them fusses over her belly all the time, as does one of her Mum's cats. I think cats are very intuitive and its very sweet that they were comforting you
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do cats know when you're sad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperDanniiiiiiii
Quote:
Originally Posted by prairienights
I thought having a cat or two would be like having an interactive stuffed animal that I took care of.
you really shouldnt be owning animals if you think that way
Quite honestly, I don't take back that statement. I had never been around cats for an extended period of time. I did lots of research and was aware of the costs, time, and efford involved. But reading articles, books, and talking to vets did not prepare me for the emotional complexity that cats have. I had assumed that they lived entirely instinctually. Eating, drinking, eliminating, sleeping...I would take care of my cats, and in return, I'd have the pleasure of petting them and whatnot. I did not mean to imply I wanted a furry object that I could hug when I wanted and otherwise toss to the side.

I'm also a horse person. I've had horses for my entire life. Many people who have never been around horses have the impression that they're just dumb beasts of burden. They're often surprised at their very distinct personalities. Horses have moods, opinions, likes, dislikes, and they express them in a way that's very humanlike. This surprises people who have not been around them. I have not been around cats....I was surprised by their human-liketendencies as emotional creatures.

So while I'm not offended by your comment, I urge you to post with more tact next time. Context is very important to reading comprehension, and without understanding that, your snark only makes you look like the fool

Anyways....thanks to everyone else who shared their experiences! It just makes me appreciate my girls even more to know the depth that they're capable of. I'm feeling much better today, and my cats are back to their spunky selves.
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