A new study suggests that pet owners are more sensitive to picking up on distress in the vocalizations of dogs and cats.
The study examined the ratings of perceived distress in animal vocalizations as provided by over 500 pet-owning and non-owning participants. Among the vocalizations presented were those of cats, dogs, adult humans, and infant humans. Participants were asked to rate each sound on a scale of -4 (very sad) to +4 (very happy).
The researchers found that pet owners were more likely to perceive animal distress vocalizations as being sad than were non-owners. Both cat and dog owners rated dog whines most negatively out of all participant groups. Cat owners rated cat distress vocalizations the most negatively out of all of the participant groups. Among pet owners, dog whines were perceived as being sadder than even the cries of a human infant.
For more information on the study, check out the full article in Royal Society Open Science.