Am I missing my cat? Here’s how to tell if your furry friend cares about your presence or not

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If you have pets, you know going on vacation can be a bit bittersweet. Of course, it’s good to get away from it all, relax and have new adventures, but it’s also very difficult to take a break with your little furry babies! You miss them when you’re gone, and it’s not like you can call to talk to them when you’re feeling particularly sad that they’re not there. I have three cats, and every time I travel I ask whoever is looking at them to send me pictures of them. I miss them so much when I’m not with them! If you feel the same, sometimes you might ask yourself, Do cats miss their owners?

You will probably be asking yourself this question especially when it comes to cats, as it is quite obvious that a dog will miss its owner whenever they are away. Moreover, there is scientific evidence to back it up. But cats? They are a little more difficult to decipher. “I’m not sure we can answer for sure what is going on in a cat’s head, but its behavior may lead us to believe that it might be feeling at least certain types of emotions,” Dr. Stephanie Austin , DVM and medical and veterinary director of Bond Vet, says Bustle. “For example, we’ve probably all seen a cat wag its tail when it’s annoyed or angry, or feel affection when its cat rubs its head against us.” Imagine this scenario: you go away for two weeks, come home, go get them and cuddle them … and watch them run away from you without any worries (it has certainly happened to me several times). So, didn’t they really notice, or care, that you were gone? Or are they just annoyed that you left them for such a long time?

It’s probably a mix of the two, and research doesn’t totally agree on whether cats really miss their owners or not. A 2015 study from the University of Lincoln found that cats don’t miss their owners like dogs do because they don’t get attached to their owners in the same way dogs do. But, according to IFLScience, some research indicates that cats are a little annoyed by their humans when we leave them, which could lead to passive-aggressive behavior, and vice versa: “Many cats respond positively to affection, it is so possible that they have some understand that this is a good friendly gesture, ”says Austin.

But let’s face it: if you have a cat, you know you have a connection that a lot of people don’t seem to understand. To hell with research! You know you’ve probably missed your cat while you were gone. But how can you be sure? Do cats miss people? There are a few small signs that you missed your cat while you were away, whether it was on a long vacation or just a particularly long working day.

How cats behave in your absence …

On the one hand, you might notice that when you get home your cat purrs and stretches a lot. A PLOS study looked at how cats behave when their owners are away from home. The researchers looked at two groups: for one group, the owners were away for 30 minutes; for the other, the owners left for four hours. They found that the behavior of the two groups, on the whole, remained about the same – they did what they normally do despite the time difference that the owners were away. One thing they did notice, however, was that the cats were more likely to purr and stretch more for owners who had been gone for four hours. So if you come home and notice your cat is purring and stretching a lot, it could be a sign that he is happy that you are finally back.

Your cat’s loving gestures indicate that …

Simple affectionate gestures can also be a sign that your cat is having emotions and therefore missed you. “Many cat behaviors, like rubbing against someone or licking each other (normally a part of mutual grooming between cats), can be signs of friendship between cats that get along well,” says Austin. “Cats can extend these same behaviors towards their human companions. Sometimes just spending time together can also be part of that camaraderie.

If your cat is stressed …

Another sign that you missed your cat is that he may seem a little stressed when you return, maybe a little restless. The researchers looked at cats left alone and found that although the cats showed no signs of emotional deprivation from their partner, the cats appeared more stressed and irritated. Seems about right!

It all comes down to this …

Ultimately, all cats behave differently, and what they do when you come home depends on their personalities and how you treat them. “Certain breeds of cats are more known to be affectionate, or at least gentle and open to interactions with humans. One example is the Ragdoll, a breed known for its tolerance to humans picking them up and holding them, ”says Austin.

Not all cats are the same!

Additional reporting by Siena Gagliano.

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