Emotion Recognition in Cats
Department of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Physiology and Behavior Unit, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, 70121 Bari, Italy
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Received: 31 May 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 24 June 2020 / Published: 28 June 2020
The ability to perceive other individuals’ emotions plays a central role for animals living in social groups. Cats entertain social relationships with individuals of the same species (conspecifics) as well as with humans (heterospecifics). Although previous studies have demonstrated that cats are sensitive to conspecific and human communicative signals, their perception of these species’ emotions hasn’t been extensively investigated. In the light of this, the aim of the present work was to investigate cats’ ability to recognize conspecific and human emotions. Our results demonstrate that cats integrate visual and auditory signals to recognize human and conspecific emotions and they appear to modulate their behavior according to the valence of the emotion perceived. The understanding of cats’ socio-cognitive abilities to perceive their close partners’ emotions is crucial for improving the quality of human-cat and cat-cat relationships as well as cat welfare in the domestic environment.