What Do Cats See When They Look at Humans?

What Do Cats See When They Look at Humans

Cats are cool, mysterious, graceful and elegant creatures that love to sleep a lot and often appear sassy and continuously self-confident. Dogs are considered man’s best friend because they are loyal, obedient and sociable. On the other hand, the relationship between humans and cats is often viewed as more transactional, because cats are more independent and aloof. Nevertheless, many people value domestic cats for companionship and rodent hunting abilities. Cats have become an internet sensation over the years, and millions of them are kept as pets in US homes.

What do cats see when they look at humans? According to John Bradshaw, a British anthrozoologist, cats see humans as fellow cats that are bigger, clumsy and hairless. He also believes that cats view humans like their mother cat, with how they rub against people with their tails up. They have no idea that humans are a different species.

The domestic cat, scientifically known as Felis Catus, has had a lengthy relationship with human beings. It is one of the most popular pets worldwide, with over 74 million cats staying in U.S.A. homes. The earliest indication of cat domestication was discovered in Cyprus, where researchers found the skeleton of an African wildcat near a human grave. Scientists have made assumptions that African wildcats were drawn to early human settlements through rodents and were domesticated by Neolithic farmers. So, one might wonder, what do cats see when they look at humans? Can cats recognize human faces? Do cats love humans? In this post, I’ll look at such questions and more.

What Do Cats See When They Look at Humans?

Cats see human beings very different from how most people view themselves through their unique feline view. Technically, they do see in colour, but probably see humans and other elements in a really different light. Cats possess a small number of the cones that react to red light; therefore their world seems blue, grey and yellow. Additionally, it is impossible for them to differentiate between red and green.

However, studies have come up over the years to indicate that cats have the ability to see hues on the ultraviolet end. Humans cannot see such colours unless under a black light. Since, numerous things on earth have ultraviolet colouration, including birds and flowers, cats probably see an incredibly vivid world. Despite the glowing view, if a person stands too far away from a feline, he or she may appear like a huge blur.

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The eyes of human beings possess muscles that let them alter their lens shape to concentrate on objects at varying distances. However, the eyes of cats lack such muscles; hence they only focus on objects that are 6-20 inches away from them. The beloved creatures are colourblind and nearsighted. So, what do cats see when they look at humans? Cats treat human beings as though they feel we’re fellow cats, but more gigantic and clumsy. When a feline rubs up against a human and lifts the tail, he or she is greeting the person in the same way cats greet each other. Dogs do not play and communicate with humans the same way they do with their fellow dogs, which suggests they know the difference.

Cat behavior expert John Bradshaw is of the opinion that cats see humans as clumsy cats, which most people are by feline standards. But, that doesn’t mean that they see people as foolish inferiors because they still rub against and purr around them.

Cats might also view people as family. Usually, when a cat kneads a person with his paws, he’s treating them as a kitten treats Mama Cat. Kneading is how kittens ask for milk from their mothers. On the other hand, a cat grooming a human being indicates that she may be treating him or her as a kitten.

Can Cats Recognize Human Faces?

Cats either cannot see human uniqueness or simply don’t care about the appearance of humans. In 2005, the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University scientists performed an object and pattern discrimination test on cats and dogs.

They taught the animal how to make a choice between two images so that they could receive a treat in return. When shown photos of their handler’s face and a stranger’s visage, the cats recognized the handler about 50% of the time. Moreover, the scientists showed the felines pictures of a familiar cat and an unfamiliar feline. The cats were able to choose the face of a familiar cat 90.7% of the time.

In addition, the cats selected a photo of a familiar outdoor environment over a strange outdoor area 85.5% of the time. It clear to see that cats excel at visual recognition, apart from when it comes to the faces of human beings. Rather than facial recognition, domestic cats may utilize other cues, such as human scent, emotions, or voices to identify people.

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Some Tokyo University researchers discovered that cats can recognize the voice of their owners. In 2013, researchers played recordings of the names of certain cats being uttered by their owners and by complete strangers. The study showed that cats showed the strongest reaction to the voices of their owners.

However, even after hearing a voice calling out their names, the cats did not move from their napping places for anybody. The scientists established that felines are just not inclined to react to calls from their caretakers when they’re out of sight. But, numerous cat owners have said that their cats are more inclined to show a response during feeding time or going indoors.

It’s believed that cats came into human society on their own terms. The creatures entered human settlements at least 9,000 years ago, in pursuit for rats, which had also invaded villages to feed on stored grain. Humans eventually allowed the cats into their houses, but with lower behavioural conditioning than what happened with dogs thousands of years before. That’s why it seems that domestic cats take the initiative during their interaction with human beings.

No matter how cats see humans, cat owners definitely love their pets for their special world view, their distinct affection and undeniable independence.

Do Cats Love Humans?

While cats usually appear as standoffish, researchers have found that the felines are capable of bonding just as strongly as dogs or infants. In 2017, Oregon State University researchers concluded that most cats prefer to interact with human overeating food or playing with toys.

Two years later, the scientists discovered that cats can adjust their temperament according to the amount of attention someone gives them. The researchers recruited pet owners with 79 kittens and 38 grownup cats to take part in a secure base test. The secure base test is usually used to measure the bonds dog and primate caretakers form with their pests.

A similar experiment is also utilized for human newborns. It’s based on the notion that infants develop an innate attachment to their caregivers, and have a strong desire to stay close to them. During the secure base test on cats, which lasted for six minutes, the pet owners entered a strange room with their felines. Two minutes later, the pet owner exited the room and left the domestic cat alone. When the owner went back to the room two minutes afterwards, the scientists observed the response of the cat or kitten.

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Approximately two-thirds of the feline pets showed signs of greeting their caretakers when they came back. And, after greeting them, they went back to explore the room, and periodically returned to their handlers.

Such cats and kittens were securely bonded to their owners, which indicated they saw them as a secure base in a strange setting.

On the other hand, around 35% of the felines showed insecure attachments to their owners. They stayed away from or clung to their owners when they returned into the room. That doesn’t imply that such animals had an awful relationship with their handlers. But, rather, they didn’t view their caretakers as a source of security.

The research findings are similar to those seen in studies of human kids and dogs. 65% of human infants showcase safe attachment to the people who care for them, as do 58% of dogs.

Following the first test round, the Oregon State University scientists enrolled 50% of the kittens in a training and socialization class. The remaining felines acted as the control group.

Over six weeks, the kittens played together and were taught how to sit, stay and perform tricks one day in a week.

When the class was finished, the researches performed the safe base test once again. They discovered the same results, which meant the training course didn’t impact the attachment behaviour of the kittens towards their caretakers.

That shows that once a feline forms an attachment, it appears to stay steady over time.

In cats, dogs and human infants, scientists are yet to know all the variables that shape the relationship with a caretaker.

Cats are known to show affection in subtle ways. Typically, they don’t display affectionate feelings toward humans loudly or boisterously. They don’t wag tails or give sloppy kisses like dogs. Instead, felines tend to whisper their warm feelings. They express their affection via their eyes, tail wrapping, cheek rubs, head bunting, purring, and grooming.

Article by Barbara Read
Barbara read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind CatBeep.com. From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.