You come home after a long day and are greeted by your pet. How do they say hello? Many dog owners can cite tails of dogs jumping for joy at the sight of them, while some cat owners may report a quick, affectionate brush against their ankle. These different behaviors often leave us wondering – what do our pets think when they see or hear us?
A study conducted at the University of Helsinki may tell us more about how dogs see their humans. The study presented dogs with photos of both familiar and unfamiliar human and dog faces and recorded the dogs’ responses. Participating dogs scanned familiar faces much longer than those they did not recognize, indicating that they have the ability to distinguish between faces AND that they actually enjoy it
These dogs had not been trained to recognize faces, and yet they seemed eager to complete the task. Our pups really can recognize us, and do look forward to seeing us each day!
As for cats, a study out of the University of Tokyo confirmed that our favorite felines can distinguish their owner’s voice from another human’s voice. However, the question remains as to whether or not they will react. Historically, cats have become less domesticated than dogs, which explains why they act more independent. The independent cat is less likely to respond to their owner’s call then a dog is, and may not even see their owner as a human at all.
That’s right, yet another recent study tells us that cats see their owners as, well, big cats. In his new book, Cat Sense, Dr. John Bradshaw explains that cats, though fiercely independent, connect to their owners because they see them as the “mama cat.” This is why a cat is prone to leap into freshly cleaned laundry or onto the table as you unpack groceries; as you put things down, your cat thinks you are providing them with something.
So dogs can recognize our faces, and cats think of us as big, goofy cats. In any case, we’re happy they consider us a part of the family!