Cats and Their Sixth Sense. How Felines Know Who Loves Them


The idea that cats can intuitively sense who loves and cares for them is an intriguing concept for any cat lover. The question “do cats know who loves them?” has crossed every cat owner’s mind at some point. While cats aren’t capable of the same complex thoughts and emotions as humans, they have some impressive innate abilities and instincts that may help them identify and bond with cat lovers in particular.

This article will explore the evidence around cats’ sensory capabilities, personalities, and bonding behaviors that could explain how they might recognize fellow cat enthusiasts. We will look at subtle cues like pheromones, body language, voices, and mannerisms that cats pay close attention to when getting to know new people. Understanding how cats perceive the world can shed light on their uncanny ability to select the most feline-friendly laps to sit on.

Cats’ Sensory Abilities

Cats have extremely advanced senses compared to humans. Their sense of smell, in particular, is highly developed. Cats have over 200 million odor sensors in their noses, whereas humans only have around 5 million ( This means a cat’s sense of smell is about 14 times better than a human’s.

In addition to their amazing sense of smell, cats also have superior hearing compared to humans. A cat can hear frequencies up to 64 kHz, while a human can only hear up to 20 kHz. This allows cats to hear high-pitched sounds that are inaudible to humans, like those made by mice and other small prey (

Cats also have excellent vision. They have a wider field of view than humans at about 200 degrees. Their eyes are adapted for seeing well in low light conditions. Cats also have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane that protects their eyes.

With their heightened senses, cats can detect subtle sights, sounds, and smells in their environments that humans would likely miss. Their sensory abilities allow them to effectively hunt, avoid danger, and be aware of what’s going on around them.

Cats’ Ability to Read Body Language

Cats are remarkably skilled at reading human body language and picking up on our emotional cues. According to Quora, cats are observant of human gestures and body language, even if they interpret our signals differently than we do. As explained in The Definitive Guide to Cat Behavior, cats rely heavily on body language to communicate both with other cats and with humans. Through posture, facial expressions, tail movements and more, cats are constantly transmitting and receiving signals. While they may not understand the full context and meaning behind our gestures, cats are remarkably in tune with our emotions.

For example, when a human is feeling anxious, sad or stressed, a cat may pick up on tense or rigid body language, furrowed brows, frowns or other subtle signs. The cat interprets this to mean the human is troubled and may respond accordingly, perhaps by withdrawing or avoiding that person. On the other hand, relaxed posture, soft eyes and gentle petting are interpreted by cats as signs of a happy, cat-loving human. With affection and enthusiasm, cats are likely to approach and engage with that person. By becoming more aware of our own body language, we can better communicate a welcoming, cat-friendly attitude. While cats may not understand precisely what our gestures mean, they are experts at picking up on human emotional states through body language alone.

Cat Pheromones

One of the most notable ways cats communicate is through pheromones. Cats have pheromone-releasing glands around their face, paws, and tail areas. When a cat rubs up against a person or object, it is leaving its scent behind (NomNomNow). One pheromone in particular, the feline facial pheromone, has been shown to have calming and comforting effects on cats (NomNomNow).

Research shows that this facial pheromone can reduce stress and anxiety in cats. It also promotes bonding between cats and kittens. When cats rub up against people, they are leaving traces of this pheromone behind. So in a sense, when a cat head-butts or nuzzles its owner, it may be trying to comfort and calm them down through the power of pheromones (NomNomNow).

Individual Cat Personalities

Cats have distinct individual personalities, just like humans. Some cats are naturally more affectionate, while others are more aloof. According to research by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, cat personality traits like friendliness, dominance, extroversion, neuroticism, and impulsiveness vary significantly between breeds and individual cats.

For example, the Ragdoll and Persian breeds are known to be more docile and affectionate. Research shows Abyssinian cats tend to be active and talkative, while Russian Blues are often shy around strangers. But even within a breed, each cat has its own unique personality.

A cat’s early life experiences, environment, and socialization can shape its personality. Kittens removed from their mother or littermates too early may become fearful or agitated more easily. With proper socialization, most cats become friendly and outgoing. But some cats remain aloof or skittish even with abundant human contact.

Paying attention to a cat’s subtle body language and vocalizations can provide insight into its unique personality. Over time, cat owners get to know the nuances of their pet’s individual quirks, preferences, and behaviors.

Learned Affinity

Research shows that cats learn to form attachments with their owners through positive associations. Much like dogs, cats can associate their owners with rewards like food, play, affection and safety.

A 2021 study published in the journal Current Biology found that the majority of cats had a secure attachment to their owner, similar to dogs and human children. The researchers concluded that cats feel safe and calm in the presence of their owner. 1

This learned affinity develops over time as the cat associates the owner with positive experiences. For example, when an owner regularly pets, plays with, and feeds their cat, the cat begins to see the owner as a source of comfort and security. Even simple actions like calling a cat’s name before feeding can create a positive learned response.

Therefore, cats form bonds with their owners who care for them and make them feel safe. This attachment is strengthened by the cat learning to trust their owner through repeated rewarding interactions.

Subtle Cues

Research suggests that cat lovers may unconsciously give off subtle positive cues that cats can detect and are drawn to. These can include body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and even scents that humans aren’t aware of but cats can pick up on.

For example, cat lovers tend to speak in a higher-pitched, singsong voice when interacting with cats, similar to how people talk to babies. This “cat-directed speech” draws the attention of cats. Cat owners also tend to make more eye contact with cats, squint their eyes, and slow blink – all signs of trust and affection in cat body language.

Additionally, when people feel happy or affectionate, they release pheromones or subtle scents associated with positive emotions. It’s possible cats can detect these scents and feel more comfortable approaching cat lovers as a result. Research on the ‘pet effect’ shows that just being around pets causes a release of oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin in humans – all chemicals linked to positive mood.

So in short, cat lovers may give off an aura of calmness, trust, and positivity through their body language, voice, eye contact and even scent that makes them more attractive and approachable to cats. But it happens unconsciously through their natural affection for cats.[1]

Body Chemistry

One theory behind why some cats may be more attracted to certain people is differences in body chemistry. When humans interact and bond with cats, it can cause the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” This chemical induces feelings of affection and contentment in both humans and cats (Source 1). Additionally, cats may be able to detect subtle differences in human pheromones or scents that indicate a person is a cat lover. Certain pheromones or chemical signals we give off may be more attractive to cats and draw them closer to us. More research is still needed, but it’s possible there are unique physiological or chemical reactions when cat lovers interact with cats that help explain why some cats prefer them.

Anecdotal Stories

There are many heartwarming anecdotes of adopted cats showing an affinity towards cat lovers and shunning those who do not share the same enthusiasm. Stories abound of rescue cats clinging tightly to new owners who shower them with affection, while hissing at or hiding from house guests indifferent or hostile to felines.

For example, in the article “What No One Ever Told Me About Cats!” on, the author describes how their newly adopted cat Dexter would nap on their chest and sleep beside them, while swatting at or running away from house guests who did not interact with him (

These anecdotal accounts suggest cats may be able to sense who feels positively towards them. Their actions imply they prefer bonding with and receiving affection from those they recognize as fellow cat lovers.


In summary, the evidence suggests that cats can often sense when a person is a cat lover. Cats have excellent sensory abilities and can read subtle body language cues. Their ability to detect pheromones and individual scents enables them to recognize people who are fond of cats. While cat personalities differ, many cats do show affiliative behaviors like purring, kneading, headbutting, and cuddling more with perceived cat lovers. Anecdotes of cats behaving more affectionately with cat lovers compared to non-cat lovers provide additional supporting examples. However, more research is still needed to fully understand the range of cats’ abilities to recognize cat lovers.

As W.L. George stated, “Cats know how to obtain food without labor, shelter without confinement, and love without penalties.” (

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