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Can cats judge a person?

Can cats judge a person?

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Science, Quickly

Science, Quickly

Why Your Dog Might Think You’re a Bonehead

  • By Karen Hopkin on December 16, 2022

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Why Your Dog Might Think You're a Bonehead

The verdict is in: female dogs actively evaluate human competence.

Full Transcript

Karen Hopkin: This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Karen Hopkin.

Ever get the feeling that your cat is judging you?

Hopkin: Well, you’re in for a surprise. Because it’s actually your pooch who might be viewing you with a critical eye.

[Dog barking in experiment]

Hopkin: That’s according to a study that shows that dogs can assess human aptitude…and will look toward people who seem to know what they’re doing. The work appears in the journal Behavioral Processes.

Hitomi Chijiiwa: Our aim was to test whether dogs are sensitive to humans’ competence levels. And whether they evaluate humans on this trait.

Hopkin: Hitomi Chijiiwa is an assistant professor at Osaka University. If critiquing people’s proficiency seems an odd job for a pup, it may not be all that far fetched. Canines have spent more than 10,000 years by our sides.

Chijiiwa: [So] Dogs are highly sensitive to human behavior.

Hopkin: And they pay particular attention to things like how cooperative we are.

Chijiiwa: For example, our previous study showed that dogs avoid people who refuse to help their owner.

Hopkin: So Chijiiwa and her colleagues got to wondering whether dogs might also rate us in terms of our skillfulness. Particularly if those skills might come in handy for our four-footed little friends. So they set up a simple experiment.

Chijiiwa: We showed 60 dogs two persons manipulating transparent containers. One person is competent.

Hopkin: That person was able to pop open the top after just a couple of twists.

[Sound from experiment]

Chijiiwa: Whereas the other person is incompetent and they failed at this task.

Hopkin: That person tried to open the lid, then gave up. The actors repeated the performance on a second container, with the same results: the competent person succeeded, the other, not so much.

Then the researchers handed both actors a third container. In some trials, this container was empty. In others, it contained a treat. And what they found was that female dogs spent more time gazing expectantly at the person who had previously demonstrated container-opening know-how.

Chijiiwa: And they were more likely to approach the competent person.

Hopkin: But only when they thought they might get free food.

Chijiiwa: Dogs in the empty condition showed no preferences.

Hopkin: (Although one little cutie with a bow on her head did bark at all the containers, regardless of their contents.)

[Audio of dog barking through experiment]

Hopkin: So, why would females be more censorious observers of people’s performances than males?

Chijiiwa: Female superiority in the social cognitive domain has been reported across many mammalian species including humans.

Hopkin: In other words, in many cognitive studies, furry females seem to show a higher social IQ than mammalian males. And sex differences have been seen in other pup studies.

Chijiiwa: For example, females look at their owners more frequently and longer than males when facing unsolvable task. [And] Female dogs solve significantly more tasks than males in social learning task.

Hopkin: So…next time Fifi looks at you with those puppy dog eyes…you might be thinking, what a good dog! But she might be thinking, Meh, you could do better.

For Scientific American’s 60-Second Science, I’m Karen Hopkin.


Karen Hopkin is a freelance science writer in Somerville, Mass. She holds a doctorate in biochemistry and is a contributor to Scientific American‘s 60-Second Science podcasts.

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Can Cats Sense Bad People? (All You Need To Know)

Can Cats Sense Bad People

People believe that cats can judge people, but does this include sensing precisely if they are bad? Let us talk about that.

So can cats sense bad people? In a spiritual or intangible way, cats are not psychic, and they cannot read the minds of the people. However, cats can read body language, and if a person is bad physically, the cats can sense that.

Many people would ask if a cat can sense evil in people. People would think that if a cat has an acute sense, they can detect immediately if a person is terrible when the cat meets the person.

It was claimed that a cat is an excellent judge of character. Cats are considered very good at sensing human energy. We would often think if this includes sensing bad people.

Others would also argue on this thought. Some people would say that a cat cannot be a psychic, that they can tell whether a person will do bad things. They will claim that a cat is just a cat.

A cat can sense things but not to this extent. So if you also have doubts about whether or not to believe that a cat can feel bad people, finish this article so that you will find out more about cats and bad people.

  • 1 Can Cats Recognize Bad People?
  • 2 How Do Cats Act When They See A Bad Person?
  • 3 What Do Cats Think About Bad People?
  • 4 Will Your New Cat Like You When You’re A Bad Person?
  • 5 Can Cats Sense If You Are A Good Person?
  • 6 Summary
  • 7 Resources

Can Cats Recognize Bad People?

An article says that a cat may not distinguish a person based on their morals, but cats can differentiate between good and bad people. Cats are considered an expert in judging human character and human emotion.

Some cat owners would say that their cats shy away from some people and that some people would turn out to be bad. This is why there are questions about cats sensing bad people, and some people are answering this question with a coincidence.

When a person is sad, they would report that their cat will snuggle upon them and offers them physical support and comfort. And if a person is sad, they would also say that their cat would also mimic their behavior.

Cats are masters of body languages. Cats are known to be excellent at sensing energy in the room. You have to add that cats have a stronger sense than humans, making them a candidate for feeling people much better than humans do.

When it also comes to emotions, experts can also sense emotions in people. An article would say cats can recognize bad people based on their body language.

This is where some people would argue. If an evil person displays their evilness in their actions, cats can sense this and view that person as evil. But what if the person is an expert in masking their true colors with the right image?

Now, this is where the answers are split. There are two answers to this question. If a bad person is not showing their bad side and is hiding them very perfectly, a cat may not sense that they are bad people.

But if a bad person will demonstrate that they are bad physically, a cat can determine that that person is terrible.

How Do Cats Act When They See A Bad Person?

A cat’s trust is gained and not asked. If a cat is introduced to a person, they will not immediately get close to this person and accept it as a friend. It would take moments and interactions so that your cat will know that they are safe with that person.

If a bad person will not show that they are a terrible person and that you will be good in every situation, a cat might find you okay and may even give you some of its trust. But if a bad person will show that they are bad and will act bad, the cat might be aggressive towards you.

Cats will usually be aggressive if they feel a threat. They also act aggressively if they think that they are cornered. If a cat finds out that you are a terrible person, it will be on its full defensive mode.

A cat will avoid and will show contempt on you. A cat will likely turn its ears back in an aggressive mode. They will lower their tail and body, and they will display their teeth for you.

The cat will then start hissing and growling at you. This will then be their approach to you. So if someone is a bad person and they take it seriously and show you through their physical behavior, you can sense that by your cats.

Cats are a good interpreter of body language and know if a person can do bad. If your cat is aggressive with someone, you can take that as a sign.

It would be safe to pay attention to your cat and the person because they can have a stronger sense than us. We will not lose anything if we pay attention to that.

cats and bad people

What Do Cats Think About Bad People?

Cats are sensitive to negative stimuli. You need to know your cat’s behavior to know what factors are causing you to behave in such away. Cats are excellent judges of people.

If cats think that you are a terrible person, they will not like you at all. If that bad person is trying to get close to their owner, whom they love, the cat will also try to communicate with their owner about that.

So again, if your cat will get aggressive over someone they barely knew, take this as a warning sign. Remember, a good person to the cat will be labeled as good. Cats will not attack or be aggressive on someone without reason.

Will Your New Cat Like You When You’re A Bad Person?

This can be answered by assessing how much of a bad person you are. Let us talk first about a bad person. There are two kinds of bad people.

The first is bad in their mind alone. These people will think of bad things and do bad things in their minds, but they will not reenact these bad things.

A second bad person is a person that is bad both in mind and in action. These bad persons would end up in jail and serve their time. So if you are done assessing what kind of a bad person you are, you can answer the question itself.

A cat is not a psychic. Cats cannot read people’s minds. Even humans do not have that kind of ability.

No human can read another human’s mind. And this is the same with animals. What animals can do, however, is to sense your body language.

Who you are from the inside will reflect who you are on the inside. And if you are a bad person on the outside, your cat will be able to sense the bad inside of you.

Cats are very good at interpreting your behaviors. They will decipher your behavior and rate you if you are a good person or a bad one.

Can Cats Sense If You Are A Good Person?

So if a cat can or cannot sense a bad person, can they do it with good people too? So the answer is that, again, cats can read body language.

Of course, your body language might not always end up congruent with how you act, but some people are genuine enough that they can match their outer self to their inner self or vice versa.

So if you act like a good person, your behavior will incorporate you being a good person. You will do good stuff in return, and your behavior will be okay. The cat will interpret this.

They will sense your behavior and then know if you are a good person. This is why cats are experts in determining your emotions. They will read your body language and interpret it into something that would make sense.

Yes, cats can sense if you are a good person based on your overt behavior. Cats do not need to have a sixth sense to do that. What they need is just a few moments with you and your behavior, and they can judge your character.

Remember that this is not spiritual but more logical and rationally. Let us exclude the irrational way of thinking that a cat can detect if you are bad even if you are not doing bad things.


In summary, cats sense body language in a non-spiritual sense. A cat may determine if a person is bad based on their physical behavior. This has nothing to do with the cat reading a human’s mind.

So if you think a cat sensed that someone is a bad person, this has something more to do with the person’s bad doings and not in their inner self. Make sure that you take it seriously if your cat has someone they do not like and show aggression with. You need to trust your cat so that your cat will trust you too.

Cats cannot sense what people are through a spiritual or intangible way, they do sense people based on their actions.

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