Cat lovers everywhere will tell you that cats are just as expressive – and have just as much desire to communicate with their humans – as dogs.
That said, it turns out that even the most avid of cat people might be missing what exactly their feline companions are trying to tell them with their subtle changes in expression.
No longer, though, because if you’re not one of the 13% of humans who can read a cat’s face, we’ve got your back.
Well, us and Animal Welfare, who published the study.
It found, in sum, that few people really get cats, women are better than men, and young people better than old people, at interpreting what cats are saying with expression and body language.
Professor Georgia Mason, one of the project’s leaders, said,
“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.”
While being a cat owner didn’t seem to give people an advantage, working with cats in a professional capacity (a vet or a shelter employee, for example) definitely did. For everyone, though, the cat’s positive expressions were easier to read than negative ones.
Professor Lee Niel, another study leader, expanded.
“The ability to read animals’ facial expressions is critical to welfare assessment.
Our finding that some people are outstanding at reading these subtle clues suggests it’s a skill more people can be trained to do.”
Basically, even if reading your cat’s silent urgings doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s a skill you can learn.
“This is important because it could help strengthen the bond between owners and cats, and thus improve cat care and welfare.”
If you’re interested in improving your relationship with your own cat (or maybe adopting the right cat, or winning over your girlfriend’s cat), you can take a test on the research team’s website, and go from there!
So what do you think? Need the test? Know exactly what’s going on with your kitteh?
Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments!