Do cats have feelings?

Cat owners would always want to believe that the pet reciprocates the love they give. For a cat to do so it has to have feelings. While skeptics would believe that the ability of the cat to show affection is merely wishful thinking on the part of the owners, studies on feline behaviors have indicated that cats indeed have feelings.

Cat owners may profess to have the ability to understand the behavior being shown by the pet. Cats are not expressive as dogs. Therefore cat owners would have to rely on the pet’s body language and to a certain extent, on the cat’s facial expression to be able to understand the kind of emotional state the pet is in. The way the pet moves, the sounds it makes are other measures of the cat’s feelings. Because cats are considered not just as pets but oftentimes, as family members, a discerning cat parent would assert that he/she would instinctively know if the cat is happy, sad, anxious or depressed. Cat owners would like to believe that their pets have emotions. Cat parents have the tendency to treat the pet as a furry little human being. The cat is therefore attributed with human-like behaviors and credited with human-like emotions. It is not uncommon for pet parents to anthropomorphize. Although studies on cat behavior have proven that these animals indeed have feelings, owners have the tendency to credit the pet with more complex feelings that are actually beyond their capability to feel. Do cats really have feelings? And if they do, what would these feelings be? Would a cat show signs that it is very happy or that it is very sad?

Charles Darwin’s studies in the formation of animal emotions have concluded that cats really do have feelings and that the emotions of felines are not too different from the emotions of humans. These feeling have played significant roles in the cat’s survival. Happiness, sadness, fear and anger are the basic feline emotions. Cats owners would like to believe that cats feel love as well if the emotional ties the pet forms with the owners will be considered. The brain releases feel-good chemicals when the cat is playing with other cats or with its owners or when it is being cuddled and petted by the owner. The purring sound is one telltale sign that the pet is happy. Cats would exhibit sadness when left by the owner in a kennel or in the hands of a sitter. Cats are known to suffer separation anxiety as well when parted from the owner. It is rather amazing how a cat would appear to be inconsolable up to the extent that it would turn away from food when a mate or when the owner dies. Of course we have seen how a cat would bristle in anger at the sight of a dog that gets so much pleasure in tormenting the cat. Even vets can be at the ends of the angry cat’s razor sharp claws. Cats would feel fear when faced with its predators. Recognizing the danger, a cat would instinctively flee. All these feelings have help felines survive in the wild.

Scientists that have studied feline emotions were not able to quantify the cat’s feelings but evidences have indicated that cats really do have feelings. People that think otherwise may believe so to justify their inhumane treatment for these wonderful animals. I for one know that cats have feelings. How would I ever explain my kitty’s sad face every time I hand her to the sitter and its practically smirking face every time I come to take her home? Certainly, the cat’s behavior is not because of the food bowl I regularly provide!