Women are much better at reading a cat’s facial expression than men, a new study reveals.
Some have even been dubbed ‘cat whisperer’s’, able to detect subtle differences in cats’ faces.
Researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada found that aside from vets, women were more tuned in than men.
Cats have a reputation for being “inscrutable”, the researchers say, and their results mostly back up this notion.
More than 6,000 study participants in 85 countries, the vast majority of them cat owners, watched brief cat videos and then judged the animals’ moods.
The average score was just under 60 percent correct – an F, if cat videos were a school subject.
However, 13 percent of participants did quite well, scoring 75 percent or above.
The researchers dubbed these achievers “cat whisperers” – and said their results are important.
These people were more likely to be women than men, and more likely to be veterinarians or vet technicians.
Younger adults also generally scored better than older adults.
Study leader Professor Georgia Mason, from the University of Guelph’s Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, said: “This study is the first to look at the assessment of a wider range of negative emotional states in animals, including fear and frustration, as well as positive emotional states.”
Study co-leader Professor Lee Neil, also from the university’s animal welfare department, said: “The ability to read animals’ facial expressions is critical to welfare assessment.
“Our finding that some people are outstanding at reading these subtle clues suggests it’s a skill that more people can be trained to do.
“This is important to be able to do because it could help strengthen the bond between owners and cats, and so improve cat care and welfare.”
Professor Mason added: “The fact that women generally scored better than men is consistent with previous research that has shown that women appear to be better at decoding non-verbal displays of emotion, both in humans and dogs.”