Do animals actually feel why?

Cats, just like us humans, experience a range of emotions. Discover the latest research into emotional reactions in cats.

Do cats have feelings? Of course, and after a while every cat owner will be able to interpret his cat's moods based on body language and facial expression, but also on the basis of the noises and even the way the cat moves. We instinctively know whether our cat is excited, happy, sad, frustrated, or scared, yet this topic has been hotly debated among behavioral professionals mainly because emotions are difficult to measure. While it is established that cats have emotional lives, scientists are still unable to determine exactly how happy or frightened an animal actually is. Therefore, many of those affected have decided to exclude this criterion for the time being when it comes to investigating the extent to which the cat learns behavior or communicates itself.

What are emotions?

In cats, emotions represent an impulse to act in response to an event or situation, but also the way in which they feel after this reaction. For example, negative or adverse feelings, such as fear, could cause cats to defend themselves. In contrast, positive feelings of contact and touch can help build or strengthen relationships with other members of a group. Emotions can be divided into positive and negative feelings and can be graded in both directions. For example, when an animal feels happier, joy or pleasure can develop into feelings of excitement or ecstasy, while frustration can develop into anger and concern, fear and horror. When behavioral problems are identified, this behavior often tends to the extreme. Recent research has shown that all mammals, including cats, have seven basic emotional systems capable of responding to information sent to the brain through their senses. These "Magnificent Seven" include a search system for looking for food, a fear system for responding to unusual, potentially dangerous events, a game system and a care system for raising children and for building important social bonds. Only recently developed Areas of the advanced human brain can process this emotional ability into more elaborate emotions such as love, shame, contempt, or concern. Even if we do not associate such "higher sensations" with cats, it in no way excludes cats from actually having the more basic emotions how we perceive joy, sadness, anger, and fear in the same way we humans perceive. Modern pet behaviorists say that emotions play a major role in the way animals learn anything in the first place (even if those feelings are still not precisely measurable) , and put an emotio Use nal assessment as a basis for treating pet behavior problems. This method was first introduced by behavioral researchers such as the behavioral researcher Peter Neville, who works as a consultant for Purina, at the Center for Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) and is now used by behavioral therapists around the world. More information can be found on the English website

Emotional problems

Recognizing that cats have emotions helps advance other areas, such as dealing with behavioral problems such as aggression, over-grooming, and anxiety. Typically, an assessment is made in three stages:

  • emotional assessment of the cat at the time the problem was identified
  • Assessment of the mood, i.e. how the cat feels and behaves in general
  • A hardening of the assessment that confirms which external and internal factors are causing the problem behavior to persist, often despite many different attempts to remedy the problem.

By not only looking at the behavior of cats, but also taking into account the emotions felt by cats, behavioral researchers are currently tapping into the knowledge of how these problems can be solved much more effectively.

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