Monday 8 December 2008

Cats Have Emotions

cat looking for love
Cat looking for love (at June 2005) - photo by fofurasfelinas

The above cat's name is Chihiro. I hope and believe that he found love!

Recent research by Dr Paul Morris at the University of Portsmouth, England indicates that cats have emotions and are more self aware than we thought. This research applies primarily to dogs but applies to other animals.

He found that dogs can react in a jealous manner, for example, when they try and break up a relationship between the dog "owner" (keeper) and another person.

Dr Friederike's research at the University of Vienna's neurobiological department supports these findings. He described dogs feeling strong emotions of jealousy when they observe that other dogs are getting preferential treatment.

This concerns me as I have a stray boy cat coming in to the home that I feel obliged to feed but which may be upsetting my girl cat. This research doesn't surprise me. A lot of people treat cats as if they have emotions already. Observers said that they were anthropomorphizing their cat. But this seems now to have been unfair criticism.

Perhaps I am being simplistic but it always looks to me as if cats have emotions. And I am talking about the more subtle secondary emotions such as guilt, jealousy and even embarrassment.

One of the underlying reasons for mistreatment of animals, dogs and cats mainly, is the ignorance of people. Many people treat cats as if they are little more than inanimate objects. Yet a cats ability to feel emotions allows us to create a bond with our cat.

That begs the perhaps extreme question of whether a cat can like his/her human companion sufficiently to qualify calling it love. This is probably possible. Indeed there are certainly many cases of cats and dogs loving/liking their human companions more than the human is liked by their human partner.

I hope this research is well publicized as it should reduce incidences of maltreatment of cats or at least increase the prospect of better treatment of them. This is because people will be aware that a cat is more able to be hurt emotionally.

It seems to me that people are gradually becoming more aware that animals are more intelligent and have a greater capacity to behave and feel in a manner closer to that of humans than first thought. It is good that this research supports what a lot of us believed, that cats have emotions.

Cats have emotions to home page

Photo: published under creative commons

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