This new study indicates cats do exhibit facial expressions, but most humans are woefully bad at understanding them ...
Cats Do Have Facial Expressions, We're Just Bad at Reading Them, Study Shows
We generally assume a purring cat is a contented cat. It's safe to say a hissing cat, its ears drawn back, is not pleased.
But aside from the visage of Grumpy Cat - who may not have been grumpy at all - feline faces don't tell us much about how cats feel. Or rather, as a new study on the topic found, most of us are pretty terrible at reading cats' expressions.
Cats have a reputation for being "inscrutable", the researchers say, and their results mostly back up this notion. More than 6,000 study participants in 85 countries, the vast majority of them cat owners, watched brief cat videos and then judged the animals' moods. The average score was just under 60 percent correct - an F, if cat videos were a school subject.
However, 13 percent of participants did quite well, scoring 75 percent or above. The researchers dubbed these achievers "cat whisperers" - and said their results are important.
"Cats are telling us things with their faces, and if you're really skilled, you can spot it," said author Georgia Mason, a behavioral biologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
"Some people can do it - that means there's something there. That means that cats are hard to read," but not wholly inscrutable, she said. ...
I grew up with barn cats, so we until I had my own kitties, I didn't realize how smart and discerning cats are. A school friend of mine was the first person to tell me that when cats are relaxed and happy, their ears are held horizontally to the sides of their heads (as opposed to back).
A couple of years ago I lost a cat for 10 months. I think someone stole him as he disappeared 1 week before Xmas. When he returned, he was sitting in my backyard. I called him and brought him inside. I didn't really know before then that cats can be exceedingly happy. He definitely was overjoyed at coming home and if he could, he would have been smiling. His body language said a whole lot.
I grew up on a farm so they didn't get a lot of anything from us other than us petting our favourite (tame) ones and searching for new kittens in the hay mow. People will think me kind of sadistic, but in the summer when haying season was in, I would hunt mice under the bales in the field and take them to mother cats and/or kittens to eat.