Cats rule the world; at least they have taken over the Internet. However, we still wonder if they are able to pick up on our thoughts and feelings and if they can or wish to reciprocate them. Compared to dogs, who willingly show their strong emotional attachment to their owner, cats might seem rather indifferent.
Moriah Galvan and Jennifer Vonk, researchers of Oakland University, US, decided to look into the relationship between cats and their owners. For several years, they studied the behaviour of 12 cats and their responses to their owners’ emotions. Some of you may find the results surprising, while for the rest they will seem totally natural. Cats perfectly understand their owners’ mimics and gestures, but it does not mean they feel empathy. Cats are quite pragmatic: they know that the owner in a good mood can treat them to more goodies.
The results of the research, published in Animal Cognition magazine, also suggest that cats can learn the ability to understand human emotions over time, living with a family. Alongside this, they even respond to their owners with the help of their own sign language of body positions and glances. Unfortunately, we are not always able to read their message and interpret their ear and tail movements in the right way. Domesticated more than 10 000 years ago, cats have learned a lot from humans, but it seems like we have just started a dialogue with them.
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