Sunday, December 8, 2019

Women better than men at reading a cat's facial expressions

Is your cat feline happy? Women are better than men at reading a moggy’s facial expressions, new study finds

  • A group identified a cat’s mood 12 times out of 20 clips in Animal Welfare study 
  • Thirteen per cent got 15 or above and were more likely to be women than men
  • These ‘cat whisperers’ were most often women, vets or vet technicians  
  • University of Guelph researchers say it shows recognising cats feelings is a skill

Women are much better at reading a cat’s facial expression than men, a study has shown.

Some have even been dubbed ‘cat whisperers’, able to detect subtle differences in feline faces. Researchers found that aside from vets, women were more tuned in to cats than men.

The study, published in the journal Animal Welfare, recruited more than 6,300 people from 85 countries to watch 20 short videos of cats and complete questionnaires.

A study of more than 6,300 people has revealed that women are better at reading a cat’s facial expression than men. The group watched 20 short videos of cats (file image) and completed questionnaires about whether the cat was happy or unhappy about being given treats

The films showed the cats as either happy – such as when they were being petted or given treats – or unhappy, like when they were experiencing health problems. Each video was focused on the cat’s face, its eyes, muzzle and mouth. 

None of the cats showed expressions of fear, like flattened ears or bared fangs, because these are already widely understood.

Participants were asked to judge whether each cat was in a positive state, a negative one, or if they weren’t sure.

Thirteen per cent were able to correctly identify the cats moods 15 times or more out of the 20 videos – and they were more likely to be women or vets. Pictured is Juno the ‘angry cat’ which has sent the internet into meltdown over his miserable facial expressions

Their average score was 12 out of 20, but 13 per cent of the participants performed very well, correctly scoring 15 or better – a group the researchers nicknamed ‘the cat whisperers’. 

These people were more likely to be women than men, and more likely to be vets or vet technicians.

The researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada said their findings suggest that recognising a cat’s feelings is a skill rather than something people can be trained to do.


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