For the folks who believe that their cats have a lot of personality, you may be right! A new study published this October found that cats don't just have nine lives, they also have a whopping 276 unique facial expressions. Pretty im-purr-sive, right?
If you are curious about these charming and cheeky cat expressions, we show off some of the fantastic faces of felines and detail some fun scientific facts about why moggies are so magnificent.
No, I am Not Actually Mad ... Or am I? #restingcatface
Are they laughing? Are they plotting? Have they already done something mischievous? If you can't tell from your cat's expression what they are thinking, you are not alone.
The study published last month found that 18% of cats maintained expressions that could be friendly or could be aggressive, similar to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. These laughter-like cat expressions, known as common play faces, can be seen with cats, dogs, monkeys, and people.
The final part of the cat expression study found that more than a third of cats come off aggressive all the time. So if your moggie is mean mugging you, it may just be their face.
Everyone's Face on the Submarine — Right After I Opened The Sunroof
Did you know that your cat's intense focus is only possible when objects are far enough away? It turns out that domesticated cats can't see less than a foot in front of them. This is due to their large eye size.
This can lead to some very funny cat faces that make it seem like your furry friends are quite befuddled, when in fact, they are just hyperfocused!
Binx the Cat Dies in Hocus Pocus?!
Turns out that look of shock is not over bad news about Binx, but rather a new smell. When our feline friends drop their jaw and a look of disbelief takes over their face, they are actually smelling through their mouths.
This is called the the Flehmen response. Many owners don't realize that that inside their cat's mouth is the vomeronasal organ, which helps it to better analyze the aroma. This response "can be triggered by any smell that the cat finds interesting, but it’s most commonly seen when one cat detects the odor of another cat, or even another animal."
The Flehmen response also happens with horses, which is why they make goofy faces with their upper lips raised.
You're Stressing Meowt!
Did you know that there is an official 'Feline Grimace Scale?' Dr. Daniel Pang and Dr. Paulo Steagall developed this pain scale back in 2019 as a way for veterinarians to better determine a feline's discomfort and avoid the instance where pain management is neglected.
They rate the pain level based on "ear position, orbital tightening, muzzle tension, whiskers change and head position."
Ever wonder how your cat is so incredibly flexible? Researchers have found that our feline friend's vertebrae "are very flexibly connected and have especially elastic cushioning disks between them. This limber spine allows cats to perform their elegant and graceful acrobatic feats, but it also contributes to their speed as runners."
The amusing cat expressions that accompany these yoga style poses are just an added bonus!
Maybe playing with the laser pointer has its downfalls — or maybe your cat is just predisposed to strabismus, which is the technical term for crossed eyes. It turns out that Siamese, Himalayan, and flame point Persian breeds most frequently develop this condition.
Most cats adapt to strabismus very well and see just fine through their dominant eye.
You’ve Cat to be Kitten Me! Cats Are Lactose Intolerant?
Yes, you read that right. Adult felines produce hardly any lactase, if any at all, which means that if they drink milk, they can get quite the upset stomach. Even more interesting, cats lack the taste receptor for sweetness. Their yearning for milk comes from the smell of the fat in this delicious dairy!
I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me!
If you feel like your cat is stalking you, you are not paranoid. Researchers conducted a study that involved recording the voices of cat's owners, having them leave the room, and then playing their voice. Needless to say, a funny cat face quickly appeared every time this happened because clearly the owner wasn't present.
"Researchers say the cat's surprise reaction implies that cats create a mental map of where their people are at all times [...] showing evidence of socio-spatial cognition." And as you may have noticed, if your curious cat can't deduce where you are in their mind, they will come and find you!
Dammmn Girl, You Lookin' Feline
Next time your cat meows, know that they are talking directly to you! It turns out that adult cats don't actually meow at each other much, only humans. That means they are trying to get your attention. The funny cat faces that accompany these calls can allude to whether this attention grab is good or bad.
C'mon ... Avoid the Dishes. Mama Needs a Spicy Tuna Roll.
Ever wonder why cats curl up in the oddest of places? It turns out that these typically small spaces are purposefully picked for their warmth. Researchers have found that a cat's thermoneutral zone — the temperature range in which they don't have to expend energy to maintain their normal body temperature — is much higher than their human owners.
In fact, it normally sits between 86 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, most people keep their homes in the upper 60s and lower 70s, making these small spaces a cozy spot to hang out. So if you see your cat glaring at you, it may be because they are feeling a bit nippy!
If your cat normally looks cozy and content, then it is likely on the friendly end of the cat expression spectrum. The study mentioned at the start of this article found that the majority of cats, 45% to be exact, tend to have amiable expressions.
I Love You ... Maybe
If your cat's expression includes a squint, you may detect anger, but if you make the same face back at them, it is a great way to build a friendship with your feline!
Professor Karen McComb of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex says that you should "try narrowing your eyes at them as you would in a relaxed smile, followed by closing your eyes for a couple of seconds. You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation.” Pretty a-meow-zing, right?
Cod? What Cod? It's Missing? That's Odd...
Surprised or not, if your cat is peering around corners, it may have separation anxiety.
The study surrounding cats with separation issues also found that these animals exhibited destructive behaviors like "excessive vocalization (19 cats), urination in inappropriate places (18 cats), aggressiveness (11 cats), agitation-anxiety (11 cats) and inappropriate defecation (seven cats)" when they felt lonely.
The total number of cats in this portion of the study was 30.
In other words, if your cat keeps appearing around corners showing off funny cat faces, they may be engaging in mischevious actions, or at least thinking about doing them.
Will You Be My One and Only?
While you may doubt your feline's love for you, take those endearing cat expressions to heart! As of 2019, scientists have confirmed that just like dogs, cats form strong emotional bonds with their owners. So rest assured that no matter if you are seeing angry, judgemental, or funny cats faces, your feline feels that you are important.
Funny Cat Faces are Fabulous
There is a reason why Grumpy Cat was so popular — his funny cat face was simply irresistible! If you are looking for more whimsical and weird funny cat faces, we have you covered. Check out our funny kittens gallery and get jolly with these captivating Christmas cat expressions. Or, if you want to celebrate your own kitty's fantastic facial expressions, pop on over to our Facebook page and comment with a photo!