New Research Revealed That Cats Actually Make Close To 300 Unique Facial Expressions, Using These Slight Movements As Signals To Communicate With Each Other

Valeri Luzina - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual cat

Cats often get labeled as distant or less expressive, especially when you stack them up against dogs.

They’re usually more understated in showing their feelings—think a small twitch of an ear or a gentle nudge of their whiskers. There hasn’t been a lot of research diving into the enigmatic world of cat emotions, either.

However, a recent study revealed a new side to the story. Scientists have identified close to 300 unique facial expressions that cats use to send signals to each other.

To gather information on the study’s feline participants, Lauren Scott, a researcher from the University of Kansas Medical Center, spent about a year at a cat cafe in Los Angeles, capturing video of 53 domestic shorthair cats in action. This group, which included both male and female adults, was the focus of her study.

Scott managed to compile 194 minutes of cat-centric video, documenting 186 separate interactions. Alongside her colleague Brittany N. Florkiewicz, an evolutionary psychologist from Lyon College, Scott was able to meticulously examine the facial cues of these cats.

Together, Scott and Florkiewicz identified 276 expressions that were a mix of 26 different facial movements, such as changes in the position of the ears, blinking, nose licking, and movements of the whiskers and mouth. For a bit of context, humans are known to have around 44 facial movements, while dogs display 27.

Out of all the expressions cataloged, about 45 percent, or 126, were deemed friendly, 37 percent were seen as aggressive, and 18 percent remained unclear in intent.

“These findings show it is good to look at a cat’s ears, eyes, and whiskers to understand if they are feeling friendly,” Florkiewicz explained.

“Their mouth provides a lot of information about whether a catfight is likely. People may think that cats’ facial expressions are all about warning other cats and people off, but this shows just how social and tolerant pet cats can actually be.”

Valeri Luzina – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual cat

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