Do you spend hours watching cat videos and wondering what they are thinking?
A new study has revealed that cats 'do have facial expressions' but many people struggle to interpret what they mean.
You can tell a hissing cat is probably unhappy and a purring cat is in a good mood, but it's not been easy to tell the way a feline is feeling from the look on its face.
Researchers in Canada asked more than 6,000 people from 85 countries to watch clips of cats and say whether their facial expressions were negative or positive.
Cats have a reputation for being 'hard to read' and animal behaviour experts from the University of Guelph say their study backs this reputation up.
Participants were presented with a short video of a cat and asked whether its facial expression was positive, negative or to say if they don't know. The next screen revealed whether they were correct. In this case the cat was feeling negative as a screen door had frustrated its attempts to come indoors.
“I developed the idea from my conviction — right or wrong — that I can tell when my own cats are happy,” says Georgia Mason, a professor in the University of Guelph’s Department of Animal Biosciences.
“I think many cat owners share this feeling.”
Dr Mason and her team created a survey where participants watch short close up videos of cat faces taken from various positive and negative situations but only showing the face and not the circumstances. They also removed any audio.
The study didn't involve participants having to guess whether a cat was happy, sad, hungry or angry - they just had to say whether it was a positive or negative emotion showing on its face.
Researchers watched hours of YouTube cat videos to find ones with specific negative and positive scenarios then isolated the feline face. In this case they found a positive cat who was waiting for its favourite toy
It revealed that the majority of people surveyed only got about 60 per cent of the expressions correct with just 13 per cent scoring above 75 per cent.