Yes, according to world renowned, primate behavior researcher, Frans de Waal, who I spoke to in this week’s Raising Your Paws podcast episode, number 39. Dr. de Waal talks about many animals that experience empathy and that make up with one another after a fight. During the conversation with Dr. de Waal, he talked about a video about an ape and a man that gave rise to the title of his latest book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves. Here is the famous video of the Chimpanzee named, Mama, close to the end of her life, greeting a man, Jan van Hooff, that she knew throughout her life – for the last time.
Full Show Notes for Raising Your Paws Podcast Episode 39.Title: Do Humans and Pets Share All The Same Emotions? & How to Tell When Cats Are Anxious. When your dog raises its hackles does it always mean they are angry and upset? No, it does not. In this episode, find out what else your dog may be feeling when you see that distinctive sign. Then, as a pet owner, you know your dog or cat has emotions such as fear, anger and happiness. But what about anxiety, shame, empathy, gratitude? Do dogs and cats feel all these? World renowned primatologist, Frans de Waal, author of, “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves” talks about the creatures that experience and act on the same emotions that you and I do. Next, could your cat’s unusual behavior be due to an emotional problem? Regarding their emotions, cats can be surprisingly anxious. Here are some of the symptoms and signs to watch for. Plus, have you ever wondered where certain animal expressions, such as “it’s raining cats and dogs”? come from? In this new feature, you’ll find out – and I’ll start with that one.
Additional Resources for the Episode.Source for the story about raised hackles: Why Does My Dog do that? By Sophie Collins. Amazon link to Fran De Waal’s book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves”. For more information about Frans de Waal: Living Links: Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution. Fran de Waal’s facebook page.
Blog Article: What Are Cats Saying?Since we were talking about animal emotions, let’s explore what cats are saying through their numerous vocalizations. A feline’s vocal apparatus differs from our own and is not designed for actual speech which is obvious, or your cat would certainly tell you the exact kind of litter he prefers to dip his paws into. However cats do communicate with other cats, other animals and with us, their human companions. Cats “speak” through body language, communicating feelings and intentions through their body postures and facial expressions as well as the sounds they make. In 1944, American psychologist and cat lover , Mildred Moelk, wanting to better understand the cat’s vocal language, made a detailed study of cat vocabulary and found sixteen meaningful sounds, which included consonants and vowels. She produced a definitive list of 16 sound patterns made between cats and between cats and people. She divided cat-sounds into three groups:
- murmurs made with the mouth closed
- vowel sounds made with the mouth closing as in “iao”
- sounds made with the mouth held open.
- Mew (high pitched and thin) – a polite plea for help
- MEW! (loud and frantic) – an urgent plea for help
- mew – plea for attention
- mew (soundless) – a very polite plea for attention which is often a sound pitched too high for human ears and barely heard
- meow – a plea for attention
- MEOW! – a command!
- mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) – protest or whine
- MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) – stronger protest
- MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) – righteous indignation
- MEOW! Meow! (repeated) – panicky call for help
- mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with lifting cadence) – friendly greeting
- silent meow. Cat opens mouth and produces a sound so high pitched that you cant hear it. The guess is it could be a sign of affection.
- RR-YOWWW-EEOW-RR-YOW-OR – caterwaul – a yowl uttered by the male or a female in heat calling out to the tomcats.
- merrow – challenge from one male to another male
- meriow – courting call to a female
- MEE-OW – come and get it!
- meOW – follow me!
- ME R-R-R-ROW – take cover!
- mer ROW! – No! or Stop It!
- mreeeep (burbled) – hello greeting to kittens and disarming greeting to adult cats (also used between adult cats and humans)
- Caterwaul – the cat wants sex!
- Chatter – excitement, frustration e.g. when prey is out of reach or escapes (involves rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements). There are also other theories for this sound. The jury is still out on this one.
- Chirrup – friendly greeting sound, a cross between a meow and a purr! (friendly greeting sound with rising inflection; familiar to most cat owners)
- Cough-bark – alarm signal (rare in pet cats); like us, cats can cough both voluntarily and involuntarily)
- Growl – threat, challenge, warns others to go away
- Hiss (with or without spit) – threat, fear, warns others to back off
- Mew (of kittens) – distress, hunger, cold (to attract mother’s attention)
- Purr – Purring is caused by vibration of structures in the throat. Although not strictly a vocalization, the purr is an important means of communication, and depending upon the cat’s situation, it can convey contentment, relaxation, pleasure or be placating behavior (i.e. “I am not a threat to you”). A loud purr invites close contact or attention. As well as purring when happy, cats also purr when severely injured, in pain, frightened or giving birth. A cat may even purr when close to death. At the vet, when cats purr, and are being restrained for procedures such as blood samples or X-rays, the cat may be indicating that he is easy to control, co-operative and does not need to be forcibly handled. This purr is likened to the behavior of a submissive cat attempting to avoid conflict with a larger, more powerful animal or human.
- Scream – fear, pain, anger, distress
- Squawk – surprise, shock (somewhat strangled sound)
- Yowl – a threat, offensive or defensive, but also used in a modified form by some cats seeking attention when owner is out of sight
- Squabble – a series of short and long meows and grunts made in a complaining tone that occur when a cat is moved or made to do something it would rather not do