Feline fine! Scientists say cats have facial expressions, but most humans are very bad at interpreting what they mean.
- The study involved videos of cat faces during positive and negative scenarios.
- Study participants rated reaction on faces as negative or positive.
- Of the 6,000 people who completed the survey, the majority hit 60% or less.
- Only 13% of participants scored 75% or higher on face test
- The best performers were veterinarians and animal specialists working with cats.
Do you spend hours watching cat videos and wondering what they are thinking?
A new study has found that cats "have facial expressions," but many people struggle to interpret what they mean.
You may say that a hissing cat is probably unhappy and a purred cat is in a good mood, but it has not been easy to tell how a feline is feeling with the expression on its face.
Canadian researchers asked more than 6,000 people from 85 countries to watch cat clips and tell if their facial expressions were negative or positive.
Cats have a reputation for being "hard to read" and animal behavior experts at the University of Guelph say their study supports this reputation.
Participants received a short video of a cat and asked if their facial expression was positive, negative or to say if they did not know. The next screen revealed if they were correct. In this case, the cat was feeling negative because a screen door had thwarted his attempts to enter the house.
"I developed the idea of my belief – right or wrong – that I can tell when my cats are happy," says Georgia Mason, a professor at Guelph University Department of Animal Biosciences.
"I think a lot of cat owners share this feeling."
Dr. Mason and her team created a survey in which participants watch close-up videos of cat faces taken from various positive and negative situations, but only showing the face and not the circumstances. They also removed any audio.
The study did not involve participants who had to guess if a cat was happy, sad, hungry or angry – they just had to tell if it was a positive or negative emotion showing on their face.
The researchers watched hours of YouTube cat videos to find those with specific negative and positive scenarios and then isolated the feline face. In that case, they found a positive cat that was waiting for their favorite toy.
It revealed that most people surveyed got only 60% of the correct phrases, with only 13% score above 75%.
This suggests that cats do have facial expressions, but most people are very bad at reading them, the researchers said.
"Cats are telling us things with their faces, and if you are really skilled you can tell," Mason said. Wall street journal.
I think cats really do have those consistent facial expressions that probably evolved. People are reliably seeing something that is true and valid. But what is this? & # 39;
They had a mix of negative and positive faces to present to participants. In this case, the cat had a negative expression, as it was withdrawing to avoid contact with its owner.
The study found that veterinarians and animal specialists were the best group to identify feline facial expressions because they worked with them all the time.
"They can be naturally brilliant, which is why they become vets," Mason told the Wall Street Journal.
& # 39; But they also have many opportunities to learn and have a lot of motivation to learn because they are constantly deciding:
& # 39; Is this cat better? Do we need to change treatment? Does this cat need to go home? Is this cat about to take a piece of my throat?
Using YouTube videos helped ensure that animals "behaved like cats," cat behavior expert Kristyn Vitale told the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Vitale did not participate in the study other than answering the survey.
She said she achieved a perfect score because she takes facial expressions into account & # 39; all the time & # 39; when working with cats in his lab at Oregon State University.
The team examined the YouTube videos with obvious positive and negative scenarios and then isolated only the cat's face to present to the participant. In this case, the cat had just approached its owner and had its tail raised
Cat owners make up the majority of people who participated in the survey, so owning a cat does not seem to be any indication of the ability to recognize their expressions, according to the researchers.
Mason says the results are important because people tend to relate less to cats than dogs and therefore treat them more casually.
She said finding evidence that cats can make detectable facial expressions could lead to better education and tools to help veterinarians and pet owners.
You can find out if it's a cat whisper or absolutely useless when reading feline facial expressions answering the survey published by the University of Guelph.
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