Your Cat Does Make Facial Expressions After All, You Just Probably Can’t Read Them

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Good news, cat people! If you pay very close attention, you may finally be able to tell WTF your cat is thinking.

A study in the journal Animal Welfare found that cats show their moods on their faces, but that only a small subset of people can actually pick up on what they’re feeling.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada conducted the study by asking 6329 participants to watch videos of cats reacting to certain events. The participants had to name whether the cat was exhibiting a positive or negative reaction by relying only on their faces—not their tails or any other body language.

Most of the respondents were cat owners. Nonetheless, their average score was just 59 percent correct, which is not very impressive.

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But 13 percent of participants scored very well on the test. They correctly guessed 15 out of 20 questions. These participants weren’t just cat owners, but people who had very extensive experience with cats, such as veterinarians.

Thus, the researchers concluded that a minority of people can tell what cats are feeling based on their facial expressions alone.

It’s not clear whether this talent is innate or learned, though.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“They could be naturally brilliant, and that’s why they become veterinarians,” the study’s senior author, Georgia Mason, told The Washington Post. “But they also have a lot of opportunity to learn, and they’ve got a motivation to learn, because they’re constantly deciding: Is this cat better? Do we need to change the treatment? Does this cat need to go home? Is this cat about to take a chunk out of my throat?”

Who knows? Maybe you, too, can learn this skill one day.

If you want to test yourself, a shorter version of the video test that participants used is available online.