You may have noticed her feline girlfriend staring at it s her in the mirror or at an additional shiny surface as soon as or twice. However do cats know mirrors? does she recognize that she"s gazing in ~ herself?

Who"s the Kitty?

For nearly fifty percent a century, scientists have actually studied the principle of self-recognition in animals, including cat self-awareness. For countless creatures, the evidence for this cognitive skill stays inconclusive.

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This doesn"t median that our furry friends absence the smarts to recognize themselves; rather, that comes under to the cognitive capabilities of their species. "It bring away a an excellent deal of advanced integration of information about yourself and your own movements and also what you"re seeing in front of you in the glass" to recognize your winter image, animal psychologist Diana Reiss tells nationwide Geographic. This additionally applies to child humans. Babies have actually no clue about what they look favor until they are older than one year the age, note Psychology Today.

As described by famous Science, cats actually don"t recognize themselves in the mirror, regardless of what you see in those cute cat videos or in your own home. As soon as they point out a copy kitty, part cats will duck behind the mirror to look for the various other cat, part will overlook the reflection and also others will "act wary or aggressive towards what shows up to be another cat able to counteract own gestures perfectly." This "attack posture" might seem favor your kitty is waving to herself, popular Science says, however she"s in reality in defense mode. Her kitty"s puffed-out tail and also the means her ears space tilted room a solution to the "threat" that her very own reflection.

What Science can Tell Us

There"s scientific evidence to support the insurance claim that many pets do (and don"t) recognize themselves in a reflection. Clinical American to write that as soon as an pet glimpses chin in a mirror, "it might not understand "That"s me!" in the same means as a person would, however it may understand that its human body is that own and also does no belong to someone else." instances of this understanding encompass instances when pets recognize the abilities and limitations of their own bodies if performing physical activities, such as running, jumping and also hunting. You"ll view these principles in motion when, say, your cat jumps come the optimal of the kitchen cabinets.


Studying pet cognition is difficult, as you may well imagine, and testing have the right to be problem for assorted reasons. Clinical American references the worries with the "red point out test," likewise called the winter self-reflection test, a well-known study carried out in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup and published in The Cognitive Animal. Researchers inserted an unscented red dot on a sedated animal"s forehead and then observed exactly how the animal, upon waking up, reaction to its reflection. If the animal touched the red spot, Gallup hypothesized, it was an indication the the animal recognized the altered state of its very own appearance: in various other words, self-recognition.

Although most animals failed Gallup"s test, a few did pass, such together dolphins, great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos) and magpies. Not consisted of in this list? Dogs and cats.

The fail of most pets is no surprising, some movie critics say, due to the fact that many creatures merely don"t understand what they look like. Cats and dogs, because that example, count on their olfactory feeling to determine pieces of their surroundings, such together their home, their pet parents and also other pets. Her cat knows that you space not since of facial acknowledgment but since she knows her scent. Pets that don"t have actually an instinct come groom may also recognize a red period on themselves but not feeling the need to remove it.

Starting with the Cat in the Mirror

Do cats understand mirrors? Maybe. The extent of cat self-awareness is quiet a mystery. Despite all of the wisdom included in she all-knowing eyes, as soon as your cat"s pacing back and soon in former of mirror, she"s more than likely not admiring the sleekness of her coat or the smoothness of her freshly-trimmed nails.

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More 보다 likely, she"s investigating the stranger that is too close for comfort. If looking in a winter stresses out your kitty, eliminate the mirror if possible and divert her attention v fun DIY toys, catnip mice or jingly balls. If she stares calmly into the eyes of the cat before her, that knows? She may simply be pondering her own existence.

Contributor Bio


Christine O"Brien

Christine O"Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose 2 Russian Blues dominion the house. Her work also appears in, What come Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, whereby she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and also Twitter