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Do Cats Think We Are Cats, Only Bigger? How Felines Perceive Us

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat rubbing its head against the owner's legs

Do Cats Think We Are Cats, Only Bigger? How Felines Perceive Us

Cats are interesting animals that tend to do things as they see fit—at least whenever they have the option to do so. They tend to understand that strange dogs and other larger animals are potential predators, yet they typically don’t see humans as threatening unless they’ve had a traumatic experience with them.

So, how do cats see us humans? Do they think that we are just big cats ourselves? It seems unlikely, but there are multiple different perspectives on the topic, so the answer is not a cut-and-dry one. Here is what you should know!

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How Do Cats See Things?

Cats see things differently than humans do in general. They have fewer lens cones in their eyes than humans, which means that they see light in a way that we humans cannot. Their eyes do not respond well to red tones, so they typically see colors in blue, yellow, and gray tones. Felines cannot tell the difference between green and red tones.

Essentially, they don’t see the same colors that we do, though they have lenses that transmit ultraviolet lighting so they can see colors that we can’t unless we utilize a blacklight to do so. Also, cats can really only clearly see objects and humans/animals when they are between about 6 and 20 inches away from them. Anything farther away is likely blurry in their eyes.

close up photo of an orange cat's eye
Image Credit: Peng Louis, Pexels

Some Say That Cats See Us as Other Cats, But Others Say That This Isn’t the Case

No in-depth studies have been done about this topic, so it’s not surprising that there are various perspectives among experts, scientists, and cat enthusiasts alike when it comes to how cats see their human companions. For instance, an English biologist by the name of John Bradshaw wrote a book called, “Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed,” which talks about how cats see us humans as larger felines that aren’t hostile. He has more than 30 years of experience studying domestic animals and their behavior. He maintains that cats treat their human companions how they would treat other felines, including their own mothers.

Conversely, a certified feline behavioral specialist and trainer named Molly DeVoss and other experts in the industry believe that the claim of cats seeing humans as other cats are nothing more than conjecture because there are no reputable studies available that support the position. They believe that cats are definitely able to distinguish the difference between felines and humans or other mammals, for that matter.

Ultimately, Nobody Really Knows How Cats See Humans

There is no specific proof as to whether a cat sees us humans as other cats or not. It isn’t far-fetched to think that cats see us as felines when we interact with them. For example, cats tend to knead their human companions like they would their mothers for comfort or to stimulate the production of milk for nourishment.

They also tend to rub up against us with their tails up, just as they would other cats in their pack. These actions make it seem like they think that we are just like them: felines! However, we are bigger, slower, and less hairy than cats. So, it makes sense that they can recognize these differences. No matter how cats see us humans, though, we know that they don’t think of us as hostile (generally) and can accept us into their realm as companions like they would fellow felines.

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Final Thoughts

There are many good reasons to think that cats see us as other cats, just bigger. That said, it could just be that they see us as unthreatening animals that they can learn to get along with. Nobody really knows how cats truly see us when all is said and done. But if you have a loving bond with your cat, it doesn’t matter all that much!

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Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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