For some people, cat faces are not hard to read

In a recent study to determine if people can read a cat’s expression, Prof. Lee Niel, and Prof. Georgia Mason, from University of Guelph’s Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare made an interesting discovery.

They showed videos of cats who were in a positive frame of mine, such as soliciting petting or treats, and of cats in a negative state either due to health issues or in a situation where they wanted to retreat, to a group of people. None of the videos showed extreme fear such as flattened ears or bared fangs. The videos showed only the cat’s face.

The group consisted of men and women and not all of the people were cat lovers. Women, especially those who were veterinarians or vet technicians scored the highest. This finding is consistent with previous research that indicates women are better at decoding non-verbal displays of emotion than men.

The results of this study show that it is possible read a cat’s expressions and that it is possible to teach people how to do this, thus fostering a stronger bond between cats and people.

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