We recently published a blog post about how researchers are working on an app to help pet owners and veterinary professionals establish the health and pain experienced by a cat based on their subtle facial expressions. Since then, Lauren Dawson from the University of Guelph has been investigating how good people are at understanding their cats faces.
The online study showed multiple clips of cats showing a variety of different facial expressions. Some of the more positive expressions were from cats that were being approached by their owners, others were of negative expressions such as being greeted by strangers. Each video clip was selected based on behavioural criteria and only the cats face was shown.
The online study was given to more than 6,300 people from all over the globe. They had to view each clip and then decide if the cat was showing a negative or positive reaction. The research showed that an average of 59% of people were able to identify the correct expression. Most people were not great at face reading cats during the study, but 13% managed to score 15 or more points out of the possible 20. These individuals were more likely to be female and many had experience working in the veterinary field.
Cat Owners Verses Non-Cat Owners
The research also showed that cat owners weren’t more successful at identifying the correct expression than those who had never owned a cat. It is possible that although cat owners were able to read their own cat, perhaps they found it harder when studying cats that were not familiar to them.
Understanding the facial expressions of cats can ensure they receive the right care and attention based on how they are feeling. This skill will benefit cat welfare and strengthen the bond that is formed between cat owner and cat. It seems that many people are unable to understand their cats, but as the study showed those working with cats often scored higher, it is possible that this is a skill that could be learnt with experience.
Test Your Skills
Do you have cat whispering skills? Many cat owners believe that they can communicate well with their pet and understand their expressions. Now you can put your own skills to the test with the quick interactive quiz. The quiz isn’t recording any responses and will not go towards any research, I’s just for fun. Follow the link to take the quiz and don’t forget to share you results with us over on the ProtectaPet Facebook page.