Tuesday 8 November 2022

Can and do domestic cats sulk?

I have conducted some research on this. The first point perhaps worth making is that 'sulking is a variation on jealousy' according to Dr, Brue Fogle in his book Complete Cat Care. And he goes on to state that 'jealousy is not as common in cats as it is in dogs'. 

Annoyed, jealous or sulking cat?
Annoyed, jealous or sulking cat? Image assessed as being in the public domain.

D. Fogle strongly implies, therefore, that cats can feel the emotion of jealousy. And therefore, bearing in mind the link between jealousy and sulking, have the capacity to sulk. Sulking can also overlap with annoyance and cats can be annoyed.

RELATED ARTICLE: Cats Feel Jealousy but Not Grief.

Today I went for two walks in Richmond Park. My non-attendance at home was almost twice as long as normal.  My cat often waits for me when I go out on my own (he joins me when I buy the newspaper). 

Therefore, he had to wait a lot longer as I did not turn up when he expected, and I think he was sulking when I returned. That was judging by the expression on his face and general demeanour and body language.

However, it is very easy to project one's feelings and thoughts onto one's cat and dog companions. And sometimes feline anatomy gives the impression that a cat is sulking or annoyed when they are not. 

Anecdotal evidence (non-scientific and based on personal accounts) about cats sulking is all you will see on the internet. 

There are no hard science studies on this possible feline emotion. Yes, Dr Fogle is a very well-respected author and vet, but he is not God. He could be wrong.

And I can't be sure that I am right when I say that domestic cats probably have the capacity to sulk. There are lots of confident statements on the social media sites that cats can and do sulk.

I have lived with domestic cats for decade and studied them for 15 years. We can't say with complete confidence that domestic cats can sulk when they are upset, jealous or disappointed.

Let's be more cautious and circumspect and say it is very possible and there are signs that cats and other animals both domestic and wild experience far more emotions that we imagined. If cats can and do sulk it is likely that the emotion is experienced for a relatively short time. 

Cats have the capacity to move on and live in the present.

For instance, in The Times today is an article about a study on the social skills of pigs. The author states:

"These are important and very complex abilities. What is suggests is they have the ability to be sensitive to the emotions and internal state of others, and then to react to somehow intervene and restore calm to the group".

For far too long humans have been chronically ignorant of the capacity of animals to experience a range of emotions. It is only now dawning on us.

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