What Do Cats Think About?

What Do Cats Think About
Image: istockphoto.com / Valeriy_G

Cats are sociable yet complicated pets.  One moment you think you know what goes through their heads, the next minute they completely opposite to what you expected. Cats “think” about their owners and food but they also think that humans are of the same species, only bigger.

What do cats think about?

While cats are normally calm and silent, people are endlessly curious about what goes on beyond those silent and piercing eyes. Surprisingly, they have superior cognitive skills which signifies that they have very active brains. 

Here are some surprising facts on what cats think about based on research made by cat experts and behaviorists:

1. Cats think that humans are just like them, only bigger. 

John Bradshaw, a cat behavior expert from the University of Bristol states that cats think of humans as big cats. They do not realize that humans are an entirely different species from them. This is evident in how they treat humans like rubbing their bodies around and grooming their owners which they normally do to fellow cats. 

2. Cats think they are the boss. 

Since cats think that humans are like them, they think that they are better than people. They want to be the boss in the household. They refuse to move if you’ll call them because they will only move if they want to. 

Most cats will not budge if you want them to go inside a carrier, or they may make themselves comfortable by sitting on the book or newspaper you’re reading. However, Bradshaw noted that although cats think of people as fellow cats, it does not mean that they see humans as stupid. Cats do respect humans because they rub on us which they would not normally do to cats that are inferior to them. 

3. Cats understand the concept of object permanence. 

Cats understand the concept of object permanence. 
Image: istockphoto.com / Lightspruch

Unlike dogs that do not have a clear understanding of this concept which is the ability to understand that objects exist even though they are not visible, cats surprisingly do. The Scientific American website noted that when a cat’s toy rolls under the sofa, she will stare after it endlessly and her thoughts will be absorbed by the object. Your cat is aware that the toy is there and she can actively seek it. 

4. Cats think about food and also learn how things in the physical world interact with each other. 

Cats are wired to think about food because after all, they are born predators in the wild and have developed skills to capture prey. Domesticated and indoor cats, however, still possess the skills as attested by a recent experiment where scientists placed food at the end of a string.  Cats that pull on the string found the food and easily learned that pulling the string results in getting food. 

Similarly, cats do understand the gestures of humans especially if they lead them to food. For instance, cats may be able to figure out the hand gestures of humans such as when they point their fingers when communicating. 

5. Cats think about their owners and watch over their emotional state. 

Ever wonder why cats stare at us even while we are asleep? They do it because they are watching their owners or trying to bond with them. However, it also happens because cats think and watch over their owners’ emotional states. They are able to interpret a human’s feelings to decide how to respond to them and figure them out, especially as to when they may be given food. 

It does not necessarily mean though that humans are only a source of food since cats also think and see their humans as sources of security and comfort.

Does my cat think I’m her mother?

No, your cat does not think you are her mother who gave birth to her. However, she may show you respect and affection that is closely similar to how she treats her mother.  Cats may also see their owners as mother figures by the way they respond to their owners’ gestures. 


Cats may be finicky and moody but they are smart and have developed cognitive skills. They think that humans are not much different from them and they treat us just as they would other cats. They also think that they are the ones in charge and think about food most of the time.

Surprisingly, they also think about their owners and manifest their love and respect towards us by being affectionate and through actions like head bunting and snuggling against their owners.