Can Cats sense Depression? (Cues and Tips)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question: can cats sense depression?

Can Cats sense Depression?

It is now believed that cats can sense depression as a recent study that involved twelve cats along with their owners suggested that cats might know when we are feeling depressed though comforting us might not be a deliberate process.

Cats- “The unsung heroes of mental health”

Several cat owners who deal with mental illness have found solace in their cats. They have found their cats to be of immense help for helping them get through tough times. A good amount of empirical research also backs up the role cats can play in providing mental health therapy.

Animals, in general, are known to have therapeutic uses. Cats, like any other animals, help people from experiencing isolation or loneliness. They possess the ability to serve as a buffer for being alone. In addition, animals also boost your serotonin level that significantly improves your mood. 

Cats are highly independent and individualistic animals that make them valuable therapy animals. Similar to human beings, they won’t tolerate all sorts of behavior which makes them potential mirrors to human interactions.

Cats can sense your emotions

Cats can sense when you’re feeling down and make you feel better in a couple of ways. They are as follows:

  • Reading facial expression of owners

Cats possess the ability to read the facial expressions of their owners. For instance, if they observe their owner smiling they tend to resort to positive behaviors such as purring or rubbing against their owners. 

They tend to stay around their owners longer if they find them to be happy.

  • Seeks emotional cues from owners in ambiguous situations

In a risky or uncertain situation, your cat will automatically check on you to see how you respond. Your cat will then react based on your body language, speech, and facial expressions. This is because it wants to seek reassurance from you on how to respond to the situation at hand. 

  • Observes your tone of voice when angry

If your cat sense that you are angry it will most definitely try to run away or go hiding. As they have sharp and sensitive ears, they sense your change of tone in voice immediately and choose to stay away from you until safe again to approach you. 

  • Reacts when you appear fearful

Cats are bound to pay more attention to you if they sense you’re frightened or tensed. This happens because your body language reveals that you require reassurance. 

This proves that cats are not just territorial animals. They have the ability to behave just like other members of your family. 

Cats can aid you in gaining relief

Just like how they can perceive your emotional state, cats can help you in finding relief when needed. There are certain ways through which they do this. They are as follows:

  • Releases love hormone when near the owner.

Your cat starts producing oxytocin or the so-called “love hormone” when near their owner. Oxytocin makes them want to cuddle and act more lovingly towards their owner.

They might also jump up to sit on your lap or lie beside you when you’re sleeping.

  • Mimics kitten behavior toward mother

While sitting on your lap, if your cat kneads its paws on your legs, it suggests that your cat sees you as its parent. It’s trying to tell you that it adores and loves you a lot. They mimic the behavior they exhibited while in the stage of nursing from their mothers.

This has a high impact on your mood. If you happen to be in a depressive mood cats have the ability to bring about a change in it, through their behavior towards you.

  • Purrs to make you feel calmer

Although their general purring is not aimed at calming you down, when your cat is lying on your belly or beside you, it tends to calm you down more. Hence, cats are also known to be good destressors. This sort of cat behavior also helps in alleviating illnesses such as hypertension. 

  • Makes you laugh indirectly.

Cats are curious creatures by nature. They develop a habit of exploring your house and its surroundings to curb its curiosity. Certain funny situations they encounter and their reactions towards these situations cause you to burst out laughing although not intended by your cat. Such situations help you in dealing with your blues.

  • Help people with autism socialize better

Autistic individuals tend to be better at socializing with animals than humans. However, when they have cats as pets they are better able to relate to people eventually.

Situational cues for comfort

In addition to picking up on your behavior cues, your cat is also going to pick on the situational cues. Your habits, when sad or depressed never go unnoticed by your cat.

For instance, if you spend all day in bed because you’re feeling down and tired, your cat might take this as a cue to lie beside you which will provide you warmth and comfort. However, this is also beneficial for the cat as they too feel loved and more connected to you.

Similarly, when you eat while you’re upset, your cat might take that as a cue for finding crumbs, making them prone to spend more time with you.

They are extremely observant creatures and they pick on your emotional highs and anxiety bouts too.

Cats can sense when you’re stressed out.

There are nutrition reports which state that cats have the ability to respond to their owner’s stress level. In fact, these poor creatures themselves undergo stress in response to their owner’s stress. They are highly susceptible to stress-related illnesses. Hence, your stress is not your own problem but also that which is affecting your cat. In such situations, living in a calmful environment could help both you as well as your cat.=

Therapeutic Values of a cat

Cats possess a set of therapeutic values that could help you or anyone dealing with any kind of mental health difficulties cope better and in a more comforting way. A couple of them are as follows:

  • Their body weight and heaviness could make you feel grounded when you’re feeling sad and empty.
  • Their purring makes you feel more at ease and can help you lighten up your mood
  • Their companionship can have a positive impact on your well being if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety. 
  • They can sense your emotional nuances and respond accordingly.
  • There are trained therapy cats who are trained well to be friendly, calm, and confident. they turn out to be a great source of therapy for those dealing with mental health difficulties.
  • Stroking your cat helps in bringing down your heart rate. It also provides a huge amount of relief from stress and anxiety.
  • Their ownership also helps in dealing with issues such as chronic loneliness and personality disorder. 
  • Cats being unintentionally funny also helps in bringing about a change in your low mood.

Cats form secure attachments with their owners

The majority of studies have shown that cats form secure attachments with their owners.

Cats that are securely attached to their owners don’t fret in their absence. They continue to stay where they were and even go to explore their surroundings without their owners. 

They might also greet you when you return or follow you around the house if they are securely attached to you.

How can cats sense emotions?

All mammals have emotional systems in them, though not as developed as that of humans. They reportedly use their emotional competency for their basic needs such as seeking food, responding to danger or fear and taking care of their young or even sick family members.

Though these emotional feelings may not possess the depth of human feelings such as shame, guilt, love, or joy, the basic emotional states of sadness and happiness can be experienced by cats.

Kitty Therapy

Your cat can turn out to be a potent coping mechanism for you to deal with your blues. They sense when you’re going through a depressive episode and can help you get through it with their presence and attention.  So don’t hesitate to sprinkle some extra love on your feline friend!.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this blog post, we answered the question: Can Cats sense Depression?. We looked into some tips and cues to understand how cats are capable of sensing our emotional states and also examined their therapeutic values and ability to form attachments.

If you’ve enjoyed the Can Cats sense Depression? mentioned above, I would recommend you to take a look at Can cats die from depression too.

FAQs: Can cats sense Depression?

Can cats sense anxiety?

 Yes. cats can sense anxiety through our emotional gestures and nuances. Animals have the ability to be aware of our emotions. Cats can easily pick up on our emotional gestures. As they are highly sensitive and sharp they notice when we become stressed, anxious, or nervous.

Do cats have feelings for their owners?

Yes. research has proven that cats are capable of forming emotional bonds with their owners just like dogs. Cats are creatures that love to cuddle up with their owners and be pampered by them immensely. A majority of cats even turn to their owners for a source of security and comfort when they sense danger or uneasiness in their surroundings.

How do cats act when they are sad? 

When cats are sad, they show the signs in various ways and are not always easy to spot. While some are physical in nature, others are harder to pin down.

A few of the most common ones include loss of appetite or interest in food, prolonged periods of hiding or avoidance behavior, sudden displays of aggression, excessive sleep and, increased lethargy, or lack of energy. The best person to spot depression in your cat is always you.

Are cats good for mental health?

 Yes. cats are good for mental health. Cats, just alone with their presence and movement can have a positive impact on our mental health. They have the ability to reduce our level of stress, provide companionship, comfort us with their purring, and also they are potential therapy animals which makes them champions of mental health. 

Why do cats sleep with you?

Cats sleep with you because they look up to you as a source of comfort and feel secure with you. Your cat trusts you and also wants to feel the warmth and heat they receive while sleeping with you. They also adore your blanket which provides some extra warmth. 

What does it mean if your cat stares at you?

The meaning of the stare depends on the nature of the stare. If your cat is giving you a calm and relaxed look while staring, it probably just means it’s curious about showing you affection. 

If they are giving you a demanding stare that means it’s supper time!. If they are giving you stiff and rigid stares that is suggestive of your cat being highly annoyed.

Do cats get sad when you leave?

Yes. Some single indoor-housed cats become anxious when left alone for a long period of time. These cats are usually very sensitive to their surroundings and attached to their owners. They can even develop separation anxiety.


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