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Why Does My Cat Comfort Me When I Cry? 5 Vet-Reviewed Ways They Cheer Us Up

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman relaxing with her tabby cat on a sofa

Why Does My Cat Comfort Me When I Cry? 5 Vet-Reviewed Ways They Cheer Us Up


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We’ve all had one of those days where we just need a good cry for one reason or another. Pet owners are never alone with their feelings, however, and our animals notice when we’re dealing with a lot of emotions.

In short, cats comfort us when we cry because they can tell we’re upset.

Here is more on why they know to comfort you, plus five ways that your cat can cheer you up when you’re feeling down.

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Can Your Cat Really Tell When You’re Sad?

Traditionally, people have considered dogs as being more sensitive to their emotions than cats. Therefore, you might wonder if your cat can tell when you’re sad and recognize that crying is a sign of emotion.

Although there isn’t as much research into the social and emotional lives of cats as there are dogs, what we do know is consistent.1 Cats can form strong bonds with their owners, and part of that attachment includes the ability to recognize and respond to human emotions.

Cats are sensitive to our moods and can tell the difference between emotional cues, such as crying. They may also change their behavior in response to human emotions, although admittedly not as frequently as dogs. Cats are also known to increase their interactions with humans who are depressed.

As you can see, science supports the idea that your cat tries to comfort you when you cry because they understand that you are upset.

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The 5 Ways Cats Comfort You:

1. Purring

bengal cat being stroked by man's hand and purring
Image Credit: PHOTOCREO-Michal-Bednarek, Shutterstock

While we often assume our cat’s purr is a sign of happiness, it’s more complicated than that. Cats also purr to soothe themselves when they’re in pain or stressed. Purring can comfort you when you cry, too.

Research suggests that the frequency of a cat’s purr has similar soothing and healing properties for humans.1 When you’re sad, the sound of your cat is one of the most comforting noises you can hear.

2. Cuddling

cat owner with her cat near window
Image Credit: Olezzo, Shutterstock

In addition to purring, your cat may attempt to comfort you by cuddling, lying on your lap, or letting you pick them up and hold them close. Living with a pet can help improve the mood of people dealing with depression and anxiety.

If you’re crying in bed or on the couch, your cat might join you simply to sleep on a comfortable surface, but that doesn’t make their presence any less comforting.

3. Following You Around

cat following owner to the kitchen seeking for attention
Image Credit: Yavdat, Shutterstock

Some breeds, such as Maine Coon cats, are famous for never giving their owners a minute to themselves, even trying to follow them into the shower sometimes. While your cat may not be that dedicated, you might notice them sticking closer than usual when you’re sad.

Maybe your cat isn’t a snuggler by nature, but they’re still doing their best to be there for you when you cry. Having your cat close may remind you that you have another creature to care for, which can boost your mood.

4. Blinking

cat blinking at the owner
Image Credit: Maple_Leaf, Shutterstock

Cats use their eyes and eye movements to communicate with each other. Research suggests they also use a slow blink to communicate with trusted humans. Cats use narrowed eyes and slow blinks to communicate positive emotions.

When you cry, your cat may make eye contact and narrow their eyes at you to try and comfort you. Slow blinking is a way for cats to tell their owners they love and care for them. They will also respond if you repeat the gesture back to them.

5. Bringing You Toys

cat lying next to a toy
Image Credit: I.K.Media, Shutterstock

Your cat may try to comfort you by bringing you toys and asking to play. If you have an outdoor cat, they may take things further by bringing you the prey they’ve captured.

These gestures are your cat offering you some of their favorite things to try and cheer you up. Playing with your cat can also distract you from your sadness and give you something routine to do.

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Crying is a natural and healthy way to express emotion, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. Your cat may not understand exactly why you’re crying, but they often instinctively recognize that you need comfort. The next time you’re feeling down, look for your cat to try one or more of these five ways to cheer you up.

Featured Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

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