Social Question

anartist's avatar

If cats and humans exchange scents as expressions of closeness, how do cats feel when humans wash behind their ears with tears?

Asked by anartist (14774points) November 1st, 2011

Sometimes when I am loving and stroking my Jillycat I am overcome with grief over the loss of mu Jackycat and when tears flow I use them to wipe behind her ears and all the other places he used to lick her [allogrooming] that she could not reach. Is this a friendly human scent or a bitter one?

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4 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Emotional tears do contain a very low-key chemical messenger to which human males are sensitive. A recent study found that the scent of a woman’s emotional tears (which have a different chemical composition than cleansing tears) lowers the testosterone levels in human males (and yes, the study excluded factors like seeing the crying woman). That makes sense in ways I’m sure you can understand.

But it could be that humans are uniquely sensitive to the effects of emotional tears, since tears in other animals aren’t connected to emotion. There’s not much reason, then, to think that cats would have evolved to respond to the scent of human tears in any particular way.

auntydeb's avatar

@thorninmud‘s answer is fascinating, never knew about the male-sensitive messenger…

It sounds though, as if dear Jillycat probably just loves you grooming her ears. If you are recalling her friend, she will share the love. Cats can very easily read the messages in our intent, especially when they have shared experience. Does she ever lick you @anartist? Our cats often do, it seems very affectionate. I think your emotion is more likely to affect her, than the tears themselves.

anartist's avatar

Jacky licked me forever and ever—he even used to hold my face in place with his two hands [front paws] to make sure I got a proper licking. Jilly’s not a licker/kisser although she does lick my hands like she licks her own paws I assume to have wetted hands reach behind her ears.

I showered and took all my smell [and Jilly’s] off and then sprayed the shower with a mold and mildew remover while I was still in there and wet. Then I came out and toweled off and lay down for a few more minutes with Jillycat. She snuggled up close and rubbed her jaws and forehead on my hand [to put her scent back on?] when I tried to stroke her she grabbed my hand with a gentle bite. Later I reached to stroke from her forehead down to her back [which i usually do and she usually likes] and she bit me hard enough so I cried owwie owwie bad Jillie. I think the mold and mildew remover on my skin hurt her and seemed unfriendly.

What do you think?

augustlan's avatar

Maybe she was just having a bad day. :)

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