November 5, 2023·Articles·CTK
The gray cat is silently looking at the rusty tomcat standing nearby. He narrows his eyes, lowers his ears and licks his lips. The redhead looks back at her, scrunches up his muzzle and pulls back his whiskers. Cat lovers know what’s coming: a fight. If stares, hisses, and growls don’t resolve an incipient rift, cats stick out their claws and fur starts flying
But these faces aren’t the only ones cats make at themselves – far from it. In a new study, researchers counted 276 different facial expressions cats use to convey hostile and friendly intentions, and everything in between. In addition, the team of scientists found that we probably have ourselves to blame for this fact. It’s possible that our feline friends have developed a wide variety of grins, smiles and grimaces over the 10,000 years of shared history they’ve shared with us.
“Many people still think of cats – wrongly – as a largely unsociable species,” said Daniel Mills, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Lincoln. But the expressions on their faces described in the new study suggest otherwise, he says. Cats can be solitary animals, but they often form friendships with other cats in people’s homes and on the street. Stray cats can live in colonies numbering thousands of individuals and sometimes occupy entire islands.
Lauren Scott and Brittany Florkiewicz discovered a total of 276 different facial expressions to other cats, which is not far from the 357 facial expressions chimpanzees make—and far more than many thought possible in cats.