Whereas dogs’ grins and grimaces often portray what they’re feeling, cats’ moods can be inscrutable, even to their owners. Now, a new study shows that cats do in fact have facial expressions—humans just aren’t that good at interpreting them, The Washington Post reports. Researchers created a quiz with 20 videos of cats engaged in various activities: playing, receiving pets, looking at food, being intimidated by other cats—and asked more than 6000 people to judge whether each expression was positive or negative.
Respondents correctly interpreted about 59% of the cats’ emotional states, the researchers reported last month in Animal Welfare. A few people, often veterinarians or others who worked with animals, scored extremely well—more than 75% correct—leading researchers to dub them “cat whisperers.”
Learning what cat whisperers are seeing that normal people aren’t could help educate cat owners on how to better understand everyday interactions with their feline friends, the researchers say.