DETROIT (WWJ) – A new study out of Oakland University shows that cats can read an owner’s mood by the expression on his or her face.

Study author Jennifer Vonk, a professor at OU, says when the owner is happy … the cat is more likely to get close and seek attention than when the owner is feeling more negative emotions.

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A study of a dozen cats and their owners indicated that cats can sense emotion and react to it.

“We kind of wanted to tease apart – is domestication important or is that evolutionary history more important? I think we found that probably it’s a little bit of both – -spending time with humans can give you enough that you learn to associate those cues with different outcomes, but you maybe not as good at it as the dog might be,” says Vonk.

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So does the study indicate that cats may actually care if their owners are happy or sad?

“I don’t know that we would want to make that leap from the data that we have, ” says Vonk. “I think they approach owners differently than unfamiliar people definitely indicates that there is some level of attachment or familiarity or comfort there.”

Dogs have been domesticated about 20,000 years longer than cats.

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When unfamiliar people were brought in — their facial expression made no difference to the cat.