Friday, March 1, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Friday, March 1, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Cats may have more facial expressions than humans

Published 31 December 2023
- By Editorial Staff
Researchers believe that domestication played a major role in the evolution of cats' facial expressions.

Cats are often thought to have rather expressionless faces, especially when interacting with other cats. However, a new study from Lyon College and the University of Kansas Medical Center in the US shows that cats actually use a variety of facial expressions in social situations.

The researchers discovered that cats use a whopping 276 different facial expressions with other cats, compared to about 44 for humans.

The researchers observed how 53 adult cats interacted with each other at the CatCafé Lounge, a cafe where you can meet cats looking for new homes while enjoying a cup of coffee. The researchers visited the café regularly over the course of a year, visiting after hours when no other humans were present, and filmed the cats interacting with each other.

Previous research has mostly focused on the facial expressions of cats interacting with humans, while studies of cat-to-cat communication are rarer, so the researchers wanted to take a closer look.

In the study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, the researchers recorded a total of 194 minutes of different cat interactions. They then studied the facial expressions captured on video and gave each unique expression a code name. Non-communicative expressions, such as chewing and yawning, were excluded from the analysis.

The results showed that the cats used 276 unique facial expressions. Of these, 45 percent were classified as friendly and 37 percent as aggressive, while the remaining 18 percent were more neutral.

The researchers speculate that the domestication of cats, which is thought to have occurred around 9,000 years ago, may have played a major role in the evolution of feline facial expressions.

However, they were unable to determine what kind of messages the cats were communicating with many of their facial expressions, which they say could be something for further research.


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