orange tabby kitten been clasped to woman's chest

Do Cats Think Humans Are Cats?

Do cats think humans are cats? Yes, they sure do, in fact, science says that cats think of you in the same way as they think of their siblings or mother! Let’s deep dive what is going on…

Do you ever have those moments where you wonder if your cat thinks you’re a cat? Our feline friends appear like they can tell the difference between us, but what’s really going on between those pointy, furry ears?

I think we can all agree that our cats are amazing animals. They seem so independent, carefree, and it’s like they don’t need you at all. However, the reality is that your cat can’t survive without you; it relies on you for care, food, and attention.

So, how does your cat view you? Does it consider you as its owner? Ask any cat lover, and they’ll tell you that most of the time, it seems like your feline thinks it owns you.

It’s easy for us to admire the feline form as she jumps three times her height, effortlessly balances on walls at scary heights and escapes danger with speed and ability. Wouldn’t it be great to be a cat for a day?

While we’re all pretty certain of what we think about our cats, what do they think about us? Do cats think humans are cats?

black and white cat lying on a bearded mans chest as he sleeps

Does Your Cat Think You’re a Cat?

According to some cat experts, our felines think we’re just big, hairless cats – with excellent taste in food. Researchers state that there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that cats see us like other cats. Sure, we might be clumsy and slow, and our fur looks funny, but it appears that cats can’t tell the difference.

Why is that?

After all, your cat doesn’t think the same way about your dog, right? They don’t look at Flipper, the goldfish in the fishbowl, and assume they are a cat. So, why would cats identify humans as other cats?

When studying cat behavior, experts discovered that cats seem to interact with humans in the same way they do with their siblings and mother. There’s no clear evidence in kittens suggesting that the kitten places us in a separate identity when socializing with their owners or other humans.

Cats understand that humans are bigger than them. However, since they spend time with us from when they are young, and we engage with them on a level they understand, they identify us as a mother-like figure in their life.

It’s not the same for the dog and the goldfish because these pets cannot engage with your cat at the same level. Understanding this concept makes it easy to see why our cats identify with us and treat us in the same manner as they do their mother and siblings.

ginger tabby cat lying on the floor with against a dog

Cats, Body Language, and Behavior

Cat owners learn the behavior of their cat quickly as it grows from a kitten into adulthood. You’ll find that your cat develops a set of behaviors it shares with you and no other animal in its life. Many behaviors mirror how the cat interacts with other felines when it comes across them in its environment or with other cats it grows up within your home.

For instance, take the practice of walking between your feet, rubbing against your ankles in a figure-eight motion while it purrs. The cat won’t do this to the dog or other animals. Your cat may also “speak” to you using squeaks and different strange sounds. Some owners swear they can have entire conversations with their cats.

Body language also plays a role, particularly at feeding time. Your cat relies on visual cues to tell you when it’s hungry and that it’s happy you’re feeding it.

Most cat owners think these interactions with their cat occur because it’s trying to communicate with another species. However, recent research shows it’s because they see their owner as another cat, replacing the role their mother leaves behind after they find a new home.

For instance, the behavior of putting their tail up in the air, grooming us with their sandpaper-like tongue, and sitting beside us or in our laps are all things cats do with each other. Essentially, your cat is treating you like you’re one of its species.

a tabby cat with arched back brushing against a pair of leg and wrapping their tail around legs

Your Cats Relies on Instinct – Not Thought

One essential thing cat owners need to understand is that cats don’t think the same way humans do. Most of the interactions we have with our felines come from the animal’s instinctive reactions to us. It’s not like your cat is conscious, wondering what kind of animal you are or if it wants chicken or beef for dinner tonight.

Your cat relies on its instinct more than it does its learned behaviors. For instance, when your cat jumps on the couch and sits in your lap, it might start “needling” your soft tracksuit pants or hoodie. This practice comes from when the cat is a kitten, conducting the same needling activity to tell its mom it’s hungry or needs attention. Essentially, the needling action calms your pet down, reducing their anxiety.

When you arrive home, and your kitty greets you with its tail in the air, it’s a sign they use to say hello to a non-hostile feline friend. Some experts suggest that this tail in the air behavior is the most pronounced way cats show their affection towards us, and it’s just like they would with another cat.

Another behavior that cat owners might find confusing is how your kitty decides to bring you dead animals as presents. You’re sitting in the lounge, enjoying some afternoon tea, when your kitty wanders into the room and drops a monster-sized rat right at your feet. Lovely.

Contrary to what you might think, this behavior is not your cat trying to bring you a present or a snack. It’s that your cat wants a safe place to eat their trophy, and they’ll leave it with you for safekeeping.

However, when they bite into the prey, they often realize cat food tastes better, and they’ll walk away, leaving it with you in case they want to come back to it later. It’s sort of like the cat equivalent of putting it in the fridge for later.

three stray cats hanging out together

Here’s the Reality – Your Cat Thinks You’re Its Mom

Yes, that’s right. Experts agree that your cat’s behavior towards you means that it treats you more like its mother than a sibling or another animal. Sure, your cat understands that you look different, but most cats are around humans from birth.

As a result, the cat grows up, and you replace the role of its mother in caring for it while it’s young. So, the cat confuses you with its mother figure, assuming that’s what all mother cats must look like, right? The thing is that your cat doesn’t spend time dwelling on these issues; it relies on instinct to drive its decision-making process, not conscious thought.

It’s also why cats are comfortable with other humans because it sees them as just another cat-mom. If you think of your cat’s behavior as more related to a spoiled teenager than a cat, you’ll start to see your cat in a different light.

However, even though they do appear like they are the boss sometimes, we love our cats and the time we spend with them. There’s nothing like sitting on the couch with your fur baby, watching some Netflix while your kitty purrs away on your lap – it’s a calming experience for both of you.