Do cats pick up on human emotions and stress?

Cats feed off of human emotion and this is largely displayed, subconsciously or otherwise, by body language.

Cat picks up human body language
Cat picks up human body language. Photo in public domain.
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I agree with Jackson Galaxy. Human emotions and stress are bound to be visible in body language, gestures and the way you interact with your cat. Cats pick up on this. I think domestic cats also pick up the vibe in the home if the adults are arguing all the time. So in marital relationships which are breaking down and in which there is stress and animosity including a lot of arguments and therefore noise, the family cat is likely be stressed too. This sort of home may make the family cat chronically nervous and aggressive.

Jackson says that cats mirror the energy of their owners. I am not sure I would put it so strongly but if the owner is behaving frenetically their cat might be almost fearful of their owner. I think you have to go back to what I call the default position: in the family home cats are living in a human created environment which is not natural for domestic cats but it is for humans. And they are living with giants. It does not take a lot to make a cat nervous in such a place. Calm routine and plenty of contact is the obvious preferred environment.

If you are petting your cat when you are hyped up you may do it in a way which leads to a cat swipe because you are waving your hands around too vigorously or petting too strongly. It depends on the cat of course. There are two players and some cats will snooze through any amount of household madness and disruption.

In the case of….unspoken communication , there is an ongoing dialogue that you are having with your cat, around the clock, that she not only is aware of but is often responding to.

The title to this post is a question formulated by Google based on search enquiries. Cat owners can form their own opinions on this based on personal experience. When I have become angry for whatever reason my cat has retired from the scene and disappeared outside for example. It happens rarely and it upsets me. I make it up to him because I know it has affected him.

Domestic cats give the impression that they are very forgiving. The don’t hold grudges. There has to be a postscript to this. Some human emotions will not be picked up by cats. The distinctly human emotion of guilt for instance will be invisible to the cat. Conversely stress leading to tension and volatile behaviour will be noticed.

As there is very little in reference books on this topic these are largely my personal thoughts. They are open to challenge and I welcome comments.


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