Are You A Cat Whisperer?

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CCSS NAS-3
Cats' facial emotions are harder to read than those of dogs (Credit: catdogwelfare.wixsite.com)

While dogs openly demonstrate joy or displeasure through grins and grimaces, discerning a cat's emotions from its face is often hard, even for its owners. Now, researchers from Canada's University of Guelph assert that stoic as they may appear, cats also express emotions on their faces — one just has to learn how to interpret them!

For their study, Professors Lee Niel and Georgia Mason recruited 6,300 people from 85 countries. The participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire and watch 20 short cat videos, obtained mostly from YouTube. Each clip highlighted just the cat’s face — its eyes, muzzle, and mouth — and gave no clues to its surroundings or circumstances. The viewers did not have to determine the cat's exact emotion, but just decide whether it was in a positive state, a negative state, or if they were unsure.

Study participants were only shown the cats' faces from a series of short video clips (Credit: catdogwelfare.wixsite.com)

The researchers, who published their findings in the November 2019 issue of Animal Welfare, found that only 13 percent, or 819 participants, were able to read the cats' emotions accurately over 75 percent of the time. Further research showed that the so-called "cat whisperers" were primarily women and veterinarians or vet technicians. Younger adults also seemed to be able to read the expressions better than older individuals.

"The fact that women generally scored better than men is consistent with previous research that has shown that women appear to be better at decoding non-verbal displays of emotion, both in humans and dogs," said Mason. Surprisingly, being a cat owner did not help study participants, indicating that a strong attachment to the animal did not necessarily mean better understanding of its emotions.

Inscrutable as they may be, cats' expressions can be learned over time ( Credit: catdogwelfare.wixsite.com)

Fortunately, all is not lost for cat owners who are unable to tell their pet's moods. The researchers believe the skills are not innate but learned over time, which explains why veterinary staff scored high in the study. "This is important to be able to do because it could help strengthen the bond between owners and cats, and so improve cat care and welfare," said Niel.

To find out if you have what it takes to be a "cat whisperer," take the fun, interactive catfaces quiz created by the study's researchers.

Resources: catdogwelfare.wixsite.com

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360 Comments
  • albany
    albanySaturday, January 25, 2020 at 8:11 pm
    Hi cuties too. The cat
    • ccglam
      ccglamSaturday, January 25, 2020 at 10:04 am
      FOLLOW ME IF YOU LOVE CATS!!🐈
      • ccglam
        ccglamSaturday, January 25, 2020 at 10:03 am
        I LOVE cats AND THEY LOVE ME!!🐱
        • albany
          albanySaturday, January 25, 2020 at 8:09 pm
          I love cats so much too
        • bugey
          bugeyFriday, January 24, 2020 at 5:34 pm
          Cats love 💘 me so I think so
          • doggo1212
            doggo1212Friday, January 24, 2020 at 9:47 am
            I know what cat can say I’m a cat whisperer
            • doggo1212
              doggo1212Friday, January 24, 2020 at 9:47 am
              Kitty my fav
              • fibyvafi-157006488659
                fibyvafi-157006488659Friday, January 24, 2020 at 6:15 am
                awesome actually!!!!!!!!!
                • fibyvafi-157006488659
                  fibyvafi-157006488659Friday, January 24, 2020 at 6:09 am
                  very interesting
                  • lou1231st
                    lou1231stWednesday, January 22, 2020 at 6:43 pm
                    That's really cool 😎
                    • ronaldokhalid7
                      ronaldokhalid7Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 5:08 pm
                      Cats are so cute imma ask to get one!!!