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Can a Cat Sense Pain in Humans? What Science Says

Research 1 shows that cats can form secure and strong bonds with humans. So, naturally, there are several different ways they may be able to sense pain in humans. Cats have extraordinary senses that they’ve developed for survival, and they may look out for their favorite humans in their own ways. Here are some ways that cats have the ability to sense pain in humans.

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How Cats May Sense Pain in Humans

Studies show that cats may be able to sense different kinds of pain from people. They can form emotional bonds with humans and may be able to sense distress 2. Research is also being done to see if cats can detect certain illnesses in humans.

Cats most likely use their five senses to detect pain in others. So, rather than strong intuition, they probably rely on visual, olfactory, and auditory observations to sense pain.

Cats Detecting Illnesses and Physical Pain

Some cats may be able to sense when their owners are in physical pain. Cats are very observant animals and will be able to detect any inconsistent or strange behaviors from their owners. So, they may sense that something is wrong if you’re sick and stay in bed when you usually get up in the morning.

Cats are also sensitive to sounds and can feel distressed if you yell 2. So, if you yell in pain, it’s very likely that it’ll know that something is off and may feel concerned or share feelings of distress.

Some cats may also be able to sense illnesses. This is because they have strong noses that can smell chemical changes in the body. Some research may point to certain cats having the ability to smell cancer. Cats have very well-developed olfactory bulbs that may be able to smell tumor necrosis. Tumor necrosis causes a decomposition process that emits toxic diamines, which have a foul odor. While this scent isn’t detectable to humans, animals may be able to smell it.

cat head bunting on its owner
Image Credit: hsuenlx5, Flickr

Cats Detecting Emotional Pain

While cats feel different ranges of emotions and experience them differently from humans, they can still form strong emotional connections. Cats can form social bonds with other cats and humans and are able to identify emotional facial expressions and match them with corresponding vocalizations.

One study revealed that cats can identify happiness and anger in humans by observing facial and vocal expressions. Some cats may even respond and reflect these emotions by hissing or purring.

Cats that have formed strong bonds with humans may respond to emotional pain by feeling stressed or uneasy. So, if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, take a moment to consider if it’s responding to any stress you’re emitting. Your cat may sense your distress but not know what’s causing your stress. Sometimes, observing our pets can reveal things about our own emotional state.

Young man in white t shirt holding a black Scottish fold cat
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

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Cats are remarkably observant animals that can sense physical and emotional pain in humans. They can respond to our pain by expressing different behaviors, including anxiety and distress. Your cat is capable of forming a strong and secure bond with you and can be affected by your pain. Being observant of your cat, like how it’s observant of you, can help you identify when it’s responding to your pain and help you better understand your cat.

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Featured Image Credit: masik0553, Shutterstock