Cats are pretty good at hiding pain and other emotions. Some might even say they are experts. And, except for pain recognition, very few studies have been done to identify a cat’s mood. If we are going to improve a cat’s quality of life, especially while at a shelter or rescue group, we need to get better at reading a cat’s expressions.
A recent study from the University of Guelph was conducted to see if people can identify cat’s affection status from subtle facial expressions. Obvious signs such as ears fully retracted were eliminated. Over 6,000 people participated. The average score was 11.85 correct out of a possible 20 or 59%. Only 13% of the participants scored 75 or higher. Generally, women did better then men and people who interact professionally with cats (e.g., veterinarians, vet tech) did better then those who do not. Hopefully, more studies will be done to help people correctly assess a cat’s mood and thus be able to help improve their quality of life.
For more information on this study, go to “Humans can identify cats’ affective states from subtle facial expressions” and “Cats’ Faces Hard to Read, Except for ‘Cat Whisperers,’ U of G Research Finds”.