My cats make me laugh all the time. Whether it’s Ruby’s funny growl when she has “caught” a toy, or whether it’s Allegra’s enthusiastic “brrpp” when she sees something that excites her, I can’t help but laugh at their adorable cuteness. Watching a playful cat is far more entertaining to me than watching a comedy show on television. But do cats have a sense of humor? Do they intentionally make us laugh? Do they, perhaps, even play pranks on their humans?

Science is slowly coming around to acknowledging that animals have emotions – something that none of us who share our lives with cats need to be convinced of. So it’s probably not a big leap to assume that they also have a sense of humor.

There’s no doubt in my mind that cats know how to amuse themselves. Playing with toys provides entertainment as well as being an extension of the natural  hunting instinct. And I have to admit, sometimes, I feel like my cats are laughing at me. A recent discussion on The Conscious Cat Facebook page seems to substantiate this feeling. My status update “Rules for Cats – Bathroom: Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything. Just sit and stare.” generated more than 40 comments by readers whose cats apparently go to great lengths to entertain their humans in the bathroom, and to make them laugh.

I’m pretty sure that many of the things we humans do leave our cats puzzled, and probably tickle their funny bone. Speaking of bathrooms, from a cat’s perspective, our daily habit of going into a cubicle that has water pouring from the ceiling must seem rather comical. Why don’t we just lick ourselves clean, the way they do? Cats everywhere are probably chortling about our human silliness when it comes to personal hygiene.

I think cats also know how to play pranks on us. Have you ever walked down a hallway in your home, only to be pounced on by a cat seemingly coming out of nowhere? I can’t help but think the cat is laughing gleefully at having startled you when that happens. I wonder whether Allegra is intentionally playing hide and seek with me when I can’t find her anywhere in the house? Is she  laughing at my increasingly worried calls? I thinks she just might be, because when she finally pops out of her hiding place, the look on her face very clearly spells out “gotcha!”

What do you think? Do cats have a sense of humor? Do your cats play pranks on you?

47 Comments on Do cats have a sense of humor?

  1. Without a doubt, cats that feel a sense of comfort (outside their natural instinct for finding food and shelter) often find ways to entertain themselves; and this can include humor for both themselves and any other animal or human with which they have bonded. Aside from the “pouncing” described (and our cats would wait until we were almost asleep in bed or had our backs turned) they also put themselves in “dangerous” positions knowing it would get a rise out of us: an example is we once pointed towards an open window on our 3rd floor and one cat would instinctively walk up, crouch as if about to jump towards it just to see our reaction. Another example would occur around food; these cats always enjoyed their favorites, but sometimes would walk up and pretend to be about to eat, then jump up as if startled (just to startle US and get a reaction), then eat normally after we all laughed. I could go on, but the answer is clearly “yes”.

  2. I think cats can have a sense of humor, and I use that word as distinct from mere playfulness, which is an obvious trait of cats and many other mammals. I’ve owned six cats. All were playful with varying degrees of curiosity. One one though seemed to have a sense of humor, a kind of self-consciousness about play being a pretend game, like how she’d tackle a toy I was dangling for her but immediately spring up and walk away from it, as if acknowledging that the pounce a moment earlier was only pretending it was prey. A better example was how one her favorite routines was to paw at the cellar door to make me come open it for her. But instead of going into it like the other cats, she’d immediately run from it. Mind you, not saunter away with disinterest like a cat might that had changed its mind about what it wanted, but sprint away playfully. It was if the “joke” was getting me to open the door but then doing the opposite of what one would expect afterwards. And I say joke as opposed to prank. I don’t think she was pranking me, but more that her series of actions were like an analogue to a verbal joke, where the punchline is funny because it’s the opposite of what you were led to expect.

    • Yup…I know that “joke” well: the cat getting YOU to do something expected, then doing the opposite of what would be expected of IT (and being aware of your reaction). Clear example of kitty-humor.

  3. My cat when it’s his dinner time knows he can do naughty things to get my attention I ignore him or don’t feed him right away. Like he’ll claw at my loft beds wooden ladder all whilst staring at me, then run off when I go to stop him. Or when he’s hyperactive and runs and hides behind a curtain etc, I think their humour definitely shows in their mischievousness.

  4. Absolutely they have a sense of humor and absolutely they play pranks. I personally think a cat’s greatest joy in life is to mess with their humans – they’re the animal version of an internet troll, frankly. I think they do it because they’re bored, frankly. 😛

  5. Yes I do think they do have a sense of humor their unique shenanigans they get up to. I could watch a so called comedy show on TV and I might laugh. But watching cats doing their kind of comedy routines will always in no doubt get me into stitches of laughter. I have owned cats before and they do really amusing things that make me roar with laughter.

  6. I wonder if Allegra sees the humour in sharing a name with an allergy pill?

    I am certain cats have a sense of humour. My big goofball likes nothing more than to “hide” (tail sticking out and swishing in anticipation) under blankets and towels in the floor and then scurry out to tap your foot as you walk by. I think he believes he is quite clever and sneaky!

    • LOL! That’s actually not what she was named after – or maybe she was! She came with the name, and it made me think of the musical term “allegro,” which suits her personality perfectly.

  7. Sense of humor?! No doubt whatsoever! I’ve had to chase my house keys across a floor, fast on the trail of a faster grey fluffy streak of soft furry happiness known as Miss Wallis. That, and the toy mouse in my face every other morning, with Cleo’s little soft gold-green eyes looking at me. My girls definitely have a sense of humor…

  8. Cats, are like people – some have a sense of humor, others are more serious. My cat has shown her sense of humor.
    She caught a bird and brought it into my room in the morning, waking me up, with a strange kind of meow, I had never heard before…when I looked at her, she was looking at me with the bird in her mouth, I was startled, and picked her up, to take her outside, she dropped the bird, and we wrapped it in a towel, and let it go outside.

    The next morning, I heard that same strange meow – I thought “NOT AGAIN”, I looked at her, she was on the floor, just looking at me (like – GOTCHA!!)

    Wow – that was proof enough to me, that cat’s DO have a sense of humor – they are smarter than we think and probably will ever know.

      • My cat when I’m sitting at my laptop will meow at me from below, she has actually jumped up behind me and tapped my shoulder, meow”. Like hey, I’m talking to you. It had me ROTFL. Definitely a smart ass.

    • My cat does that with lizards in Florida. When I let her on our screened porch she find lizards who sneak in. When she gets them in the house she drops them with the tail missing. On her way in, she is MM , MM , sounds. I used to get a warning too, now she knows I know and uietly sneaks back in with it.

    • Have had our cat bring the same bird back several times in a worse condition each time so that by the end there was hardly anything left Yuk. Wharped cat sense of humour!!

  9. My cat’s schtick is to get into the refrigerator damn near every time I open it. When I reopen it, she jumps out.

    I know that I’ve heard that cats have the mind of a three year old. I’ve been around a young child a lot for the past five years. The refrigerator gag reminds me of the child’s sense of humor. I could hear her saying, “wouldn’t it be funny if you opened the refrigerator and a cat jumped out of it?” As we all know, three year olds find the same the same thing funny over and over and over. For my cat, it’s the surprise of a cat

    • …jumping out of the refrigerator.

      Note: Of course, while I was typing that, the other cat walks on the keyboard and hits the send button. That’s why it cuts off mid-sentence.

      • That actually makes a lot of sense. I love the comparison of three year-olds and cats. My cat loves playing hide-and-seek and tag. Really- sometimes I chase him around until I catch him, and then he chases me until he taps me. And he loves hiding and leaping out at me, and having me do the same. He’s a silly guy, and he’s really good at communicating what kind of mood he’s in, especially when he wants to play.

        Also, he loves walking on my laptop.

  10. They sure do! My Kitty who passed last summer would play hide ‘n seek with me. She would come to me and say, ” rrrrrup,” to let me know the game had begun! So fun. I would find her and then another run and hide, I would say, “I’m going to get youuuu.” I swear she was laughing. She would also start a run up voluminous stairs. It was truly a “ready-set-go.” Another “rrrrrup,” and up we went. She always won. My new from shelter kitty, Mandy, loves to swipe my legs. For sure, I know Mandy has a sense of humor. I just can tell. And I am now LOL just thinking of it all :):) Thank you for this wonderful post, Ingrid.

    • That pic was a lucky shot – I’m not in the habit of keeping the camera in the bathroom, and usually, by the time I get it, one or both have jumped off the vanity to see what I’m up to.

  11. I LMTO all the time about stuff Dad and Mom do…and oh cat…when I was at the shelter, once all the peeps were gone…the stories we would tell about their behaviors that day…what a crack up!!! Kept us up until late at night…then the peeps would come in early next morning to clean and we would be zonked out and they would want us to play!!! Purrlease!!!

  12. If pets were people, I think cats would have a dry sense of humor and dogs would love slapstick comedy. And yes – I most definitely think our cats laugh at us!

    • What Vicki said….Peaches, Maybe not so much, but Monkey and SHanks are both mischeivous little tricksters who LOVE to mess with my head!

  13. I agree that cats have a sense of humor and also agree with Caren that they are masters of strategy. My cat George was described as a clown by the Humane Society when I adopted him. But he is so much more than that. His love of fun and adventure is a joy to watch. But I believe that, as with some people, some cats do not have a sense of humor. Our Billy does not. Everything about him is earnest and straight forward and unfortunately he is often the foil of one of George’s pranks.

    • Debbie, I’m just now seeing this comment – for some reason, it ended up in the spam folder! Aww, poor Billy – isn’t it always the earnest ones that have pranks played on them!

  14. love the post!!! But I think I beg to differ, I don’t think it’s a sense of humor…I think they are master chess players who carefully execute their moves to gain what they desire. They are masters of strategy which shows deeper planning than merely pulling a prank

  15. What a great and cheerful post, Ingrid!
    YES, I think kitties do have a sense of humor… and they must find us VERY funny at times!

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