The wider question is whether cats pick up on human emotions and body language. Cat guardians will be able to answer the question themselves if they are observant and the majority of cat guardians are intelligent types! They will overwhelming answer, Yes. This is common sense really because domestic cats have emotions and are hightly sensitive to stimuli around them. It has to be said that the presence of a cat in the home is an antidote to human negative energy. She will help to mitigate the effects of a negative atmosphere. They add soul to the home.
The concept of “negative energy” is quite a difficult one. It depends how you see it. It refers to a negative aura or detrimental energy that a person gives off. In practical terms it means that a person has negative thoughts, demeanour and body language. This may come from depression, anxiety and a general disaffection with life. It is an understandable psychological condition for a person to suffer from; particularly, perhaps, during the coronavirus crisis.
The question may be particularly pertinent, actually, because a recent study confirms what we know namely that companion animals are supporting people emotionally and psychologically during this crisis. Therefore, perhaps, the human caregiver owes a duty to their companion animal to be as positive as possible because cats do pick up on negative energy. If the person is negative it is liable to create an atmosphere in the home which is also negative. I’d argue that humans need to lead in the creation of a positive relationship between cat and person. They start the positive cycle.
A domestic cat will feel the anxiety and possibly become slightly anxious themselves if the owner gives of negative energy. Cats do feed off human emotion as displayed either consciously or subconsciously in their body language. Jackson Galaxy says that “cats will mirror your energy”. So if your energy is high and you’re a bit frenetic it can set them off with a single spark, he says. It might. It depends how your energy is delivered. If you create lots of noise and move fast around the home it may make your cat anxious. Also the general environment in the home will be embued with negative energy which can make a cat permanently anxious. Feline anxiety can be expressed in aggression because they are uncertain and become defensive.
If you are tentative, fearful and uncertain when interacting with a cat it may give them the impression that you do not trust them. If you are nervous when petting a cat your behaviour and body language might give the impression to the cat that you are a prey animal which in turn may lead to an unwanted bite. Confidence in interacting with a domestic cat is the delivery of positive energy which helps to feed the relationship in an obviously positive way.
The sort of language that cat behaviourist like to use when describing human behaviour when interacting with their cat companions are stillness, calmness, positivity and confidence. Cats feed off these qualities and return them. “Be a nonthreatening ambassador, and carry a friendly message, entering feline territory with quiet confidence”. This is the opposite to negative energy. These wise words of Jackson Galaxy are particularly true of timid cats which he describes as “wallflowers” (a.k.a the victim). It is also true of cats that he describes as “Napoleons”. These are cats that are predisposed to making a power-play to use his words. When you encounter a Napoleon Cat on his territory he thinks, “Who are you, and what are you here to steal?”.
He also emphasises the benefits of the slow blink greeting. He says that if you close your eyes i.e. blink towards a cat it demonstrates trust through vulnerability. A cat who does not know a person will respond better if that person demonstrates their vulnerability because they are a potential aggressor to the cat. The show vulnerability is not the sort of thing that a potential aggressor would do. Therefore it calms the situation and creates a better relationship. The slow blink helps to create trust in an untrusting cat and it should be carried out within a soft “and simple gaze, as opposed to stare”. Jackson Galaxy also talks about the Michelangelo finger greeting which is a version of the feline-to-feline nose touch greeting.