Can Cats Sense Fear? (Interesting Facts)

Cats know something is up even before we know it. But is it true that cats can sense fear? We will find that out. 

So can cats sense fear? The cat cannot feel the fear itself. But they can feel what contributes to the fear, such as pheromones or body language.

You might have noticed that dogs are used to detect any circumstances. An animal senses earthquakes. Cats are also known to see spirits. 

Pets are known to catch things and happenings before they happen. Cats are known that they can smell fear. This belief is sometimes referred to as a joke. 

People would say not to be scared of cats or dogs because they can smell fear. We sometimes ask ourselves if this is true or just a myth. Can cats sense fear? 

Do cats have the ability to know if a person is scared or afraid of something? Some people would also think that maybe this can be true because cats must have food to survive. 

They should know about other animals or humans’ feelings and emotions, for that matter. If you are a cat lover and sometimes feel that your cat would somehow empathize with you, this article will be very informative. 

Can Cats Tell When You Are Scared?

People believe about the thought that cats can smell human fears. So do they? Cats can interpret the body language of their owner. 

To add to this, cats can smell pheromones. This pheromone is what will alert the cats if their human is afraid. If a human is scared, humans will release pheromones, and this will be the one who will talk to the cat that their human is afraid of. 

A cat will take the signals that the human will give off, and the cat will then interpret the humans’ emotions. We are not just talking about fear here. 

We are talking about happiness, sadness, anxiety, and other emotions that humans can feel. This is why there are reports that would say that animals are often acting weird if storms or earthquakes are coming. 

Cats do not have a sixth sense in understanding human emotions, but cats can watch and observe your body language. They can sense your tone of voice and the scents that humans will provide. 

This body language plus the pheromones will help the cats determine the reasons for your behavior. When people are scared, people will start to act weird. 

They will change their composures, and their actions will change too. These observable behaviors will be the behaviors that cats will interpret. This is why they can tell if you are scared.

Related: Can Cats Sense Danger?

How Can Cats Recognize That You Are Scared?

Cats will watch your body language, your tone of voice, and the scents that will come from you. Cats do not precisely know that you are scared. Instead, they will interpret your behaviors. 

If people are afraid, people will exhibit specific behaviors and body language. People will be hesitant to talk and act. People also sweat if they are scared. 

They will get cold and then start to sweat. Cats can recognize how we behave and our day-to-day body language. Remember also that a cat’s sense of smell is more acute than humans. 

Cat’s smell is fourteen times more pungent than humans smell. Cat’s smell is stronger because cats have twice their receptors in their olfactory epithelium. People are sometimes known to be very good at hiding emotions. 

We feel using our body, and we relay to people our feelings by our body. People will change their body and facial expressions if they feel a different emotion. 

If you are happy, your face would lit up, and you will have a big smile on your face. And if you are afraid, we stand small. We would hunch our shoulders, and we a scared look on our faces. 

We would hold back and stutter while we talk. These are what we call body language. If a person feels an emotion, you will show these emotions in your body language, and your cat will recognize that something has changed. 

As mentioned, cats cannot identify the fear itself, and cats will observe your body language and the pheromones that your body will release. They will interpret the specific emotion you are feeling with. 

If a person is also afraid of cats, cats will recognize this. If a person is scared of a cat, they will avoid the cat. People scream and yelp when a cat will go near them. 

The cat will interpret this behavior as fear of them. But if you will ask, what if a human is so good at hiding their emotions? While humans can conceal their feelings through their behaviors, one cannot falsify pheromones or the scent you release when feeling an emotion. 

When a person gets nervous or is scared, that person will sweat. Sweating is a normal, biological reaction that our body produces when stressed or scared. And our sweat contains pheromones. 

Though experts have no idea how cats can detect pheromones, they contribute to the fact that cats have a powerful sense of smell. This ability is considered why a cat can see a change in our behavior. 

scared cat

How Do Cats Act When They Sense Fear In Humans?

There have been studies that said cats could sense fear in humans. This has something to do with body language and humans’ pheromones. Some reviews said cats respond to the emotions of their owners. 

A cat is more likely clingy and affectionate to its owners if a person is happy. A cat can detect the feelings of its human. If the owner is also sad or gloomy, the cat will also show empathy to their owner. 

This is an exciting notion since cats are labeled as not sociable animals. Cats are labeled as aloof and loner because cats just wanted to take a nap and just sleep all day in their favorite corner. But the truth is, cats pay attention to their owners more than we know. 

Your cat can tell you if you are sad or happy. Research shows the correlation between a cat and its ability to sense human emotion gestures. 

This study also said that cats pay attention to their facial expressions. They said that if a person is smiling and happy, the cats will perform positive behaviors like snuggling and purring at their owner’s feet. 

They will also sit on their owner’s lap. So if a person is scared, sometimes the cat will also perform a stressful behavior. The cat will want to sit in a corner and doubt what to do. Some cats will also be the opposite. 

They will snuggle with their owners’ feet and show their support and comfort. This will depend totally on the cat’s ability to adapt to human emotions. 

Also Read: Can Cats Sense Bad People?

Will Your Cat Try To Protect You When You Are Scared?

This will depend on the attachment that a cat has with its owner. If a cat senses that its owner is threatened, an attached cat will try to fight the threat. 

This is possible since cats are perceived to be predators, and cats hurt someone if they need to. If the danger is visible or present in a physical state like a rat or another animal, your cat will protect you somehow. 

However, if your fear is irrational and not present in a material way, there is no way your cat can defend you from something intangible. So this will most likely depend on why their owner is scared. 

If the cat can protect its owner, it will protect its owner. But of course, the threat must be visible for the cat. 

Can Cats Sense Energy? Read more here.


In summary, a cat may not sense fear in humans, and they can smell body language and pheromones. Both of these two are visible when a human is scared. 

If a person is worried, that will be visible to your body language, and you will release a pheromone. This body language and pheromone will be visual to your cats, and then they will then interpret this into something that they can understand. 

In return, they will know what emotions you are feeling, and they will then respond to that specific emotion. They will be emphatic with their owners. 

The cat will show positive behavior if their owners also feel a positive emotion like happiness and joy. On the other hand, the cat will also offer an adverse reaction if the owner’s feeling is negative.


Image credits – Canva

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