What Do Cats Think About? [How To Read Your Cat’s Mind]

Wondering what your cat’s thinking? Here we discuss what cats think about and how to read your cat’s mind.

What Do Cats Think About?

  • Cats’ brains work similarly to ours
  • Emotions affect a cat’s thoughts: happiness, sadness, jealousy, and anger
  • Cats think about their owners
  • Cats think about food
  • Cats think of past events
  • Body language is key to tap into a cat’s mind

How Cat Brains Work

Cats are intelligent creatures, there’s no doubt about it!

Studies on the minds of cats aren’t as extensive as some other animals such as dogs. But scientists still manage to make impressive progress on the matter, discovering several interesting facts about the feline brain and its cognitive abilities.


For example, one of the facts that come as a surprise to lots of cat owners is the great similarity between the structures of human and cat brains.

In fact, according to Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, a worldwide established animal behaviorist and professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, humans share a nearly identical brain composition with cats, particularly when it comes to regions responsible for emotions.

Both species have temporal, frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes. Feline brains seem to mimic the neural networks of human brains, in addition to containing white and gray matter as well.

It doesn’t stop there! Cats are also able to learn and work their brains at an advanced range to observe as well as simulate what they see, whether it’s something done by their owners or other animals.

According to Dr. Jill Sackman, senior medical director at BluePearl’s Michigan hospitals, felines have a 30-second short-term memory. This memory is where current thoughts are processed. As for long-term memory, cats don’t fall short. They can remember people from years back.

Last but not least, to further establish the cognitive skills of cats, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Ethology provided evidence suggesting that cats can be trained to distinguish quantities. In other words, cats can be motivated by treats to tell numerical values apart.

Do Cats Have Emotional Thoughts?

Due to the lack of proper knowledge and insight, a lot of cat owners and lovers develop the wrong idea when it comes to feline emotions. They generally assume that cats are somewhat cold-hearted animals, showing fewer sentiments than, let’s say, dogs.

This is indeed justifiable since communication between humans and cats is far less advanced than humans and dogs. After all, research suggests that humans first domesticated dogs over 15,000 years ago, while cats were originally thought to have been domesticated only 3600 years ago.

The result of such a gap, along with the mystery surrounding feline behavior, has lead people to create and believe many misconceptions about cats. These include cats scratching humans just to annoy them, being antisocial, or incapable of conceiving emotions. All of which isn’t true!

cat licks nose, beautiful British cat with yellow eyes

This brings us to the question: what emotions do the minds of cats typically process? Well, quite a few actually.


However, felines obviously can’t translate their thoughts into words, so we usually recognize what they’re thinking and feeling by studying physical and mental signs.


Cats are capable of thinking happy! The feeling of joy for a feline can be the result of multiple scenarios. Cats are happy when they’re comfortable, and you can tell by the relaxed posture of their bodies as well as purring sounds of delight.

They’re also happy when they’re chasing after toys since their hunting instincts are in action, and when you’re grooming or playing with them.

Moreover, cats are happy when they’re excited, either because you’re preparing its food or you’re just back home. In such cases, you may find your cat rubbing against your body, producing sounds of thrill, or jumping and running around you.


On the contrary, cats also feel sad and even depressed, just like humans do. However, you’ll hardly notice this right away, since cats are masters of masking this particular emotion. But you can still see it through changes in long-term behaviors such as loss of appetite and becoming disinterested in socializing and playtime.


One of the more notable emotions of your feline pet has got to be jealousy. Yes, cats do get jealous which is due to their extremely territorial nature, especially male felines.

Cats don’t appreciate it when you come home after being around other cats, as they can smell their scents. Your furball may also demonstrate signs of jealousy if you introduce new pets to the family, including hissing, staring, or even aggression.


Unlike sadness, your cat will most definitely let you know when it’s upset or angry. You may not even realize this, but there are certain actions you unintentionally do that end up aggravating your pet.

A very common example of such situations is when you force your feline to play. Cat owners tend to pick up their felines without considering whether they want to be held or not. Of course, it’s out of love, but cats don’t see it that way as they’re creatures of mood just like us!

This means you need to be more aware of your cat’s current state, is it open to cuddles and chasing games, or is it unwilling to engage in these sorts of activities?

Don’t worry too much though, your cat won’t hold a grudge against or plot to exterminate you just yet! They merely respond to your actions, so as long as you avoid triggering them over and over, you should be cool.

What Do Cats Think of Humans?

Did you ever catch yourself staring at your little feline and wondering what it actually thinks of you? Well, let me tell you, almost every cat owner out there has the same question: how do cats perceive their owners?

You’d be pleased to know that cats do indeed think about us, however, there’s still so much to discover when it comes to how cats view humans.

That being said, many people believe that cats think of their owners as bigger, clumsier, and more stupid cats. You may even find articles confirming this notion, which isn’t accurate at all.

Unrecognizable young woman holding her striped cat

According to John Bradshaw, an expert on cat behavior at Bristol University and author of the book Cat Sense, cats couldn’t possibly be thinking of humans as inferior beings since they don’t rub against other cats that they look down on.

Alternatively, cats treat people in a particular way that’s very unique when compared to how they behave towards each other. However, they do think we’re rather clumsy. I mean, we trip and fall way more than agile felines will ever do.

Do Cats Think About Food?

Cats are animals of hunting instincts, this means that food is always on their minds. It could be the front and center thought, or just casually residing in the back waiting for the slightest trigger to push through.

Cats use their sharp senses to always be aware of their food’s “status”. They know the regular schedule of meals, recognize when you’re preparing their bowls, and of course, hear the faintest sound of cans being opened.

Do Cats Think About The Past?

As we’ve already established, cats have both short and long-term memories. So it’s very likely that they spend lots of time reminiscing about past events since felines are capable of storing rather detailed images of their experiences, utilizing their heightened senses to record scents, sounds, and visuals.

How to Read Your Cat’s Mind

Now that you know all sorts of thoughts that go through your cat’s brain, the tricky part is figuring out what they’re actually thinking at a certain moment.

The key? Observing your cat’s body language and carefully listening to the sounds it produces.

For the body language, pay attention to the tail, eyes, and ears movements as they provide rather helpful insights to the mind state of cats.

Sounds like purring, hissing, growling, and howling are also considered critical to deciphering a cat’s thought process. Check out our guide to cat body language to get the full scoop.

Wrap Up

There you have it, a deep glimpse into the mysterious minds of our feline friends. Although science has provided us with valuable insights into cats’ thoughts, this area still needs further research to explore more aspects of these fascinating creatures.

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