Here is a picture of a cat that looks sad. Is (s)he sad? Are we interpreting a cat’s expressions correctly?
The face is actually more “concerned-and-sad” than plain sad. I’ll tell you why I think we are encouraged to make that interpretation from looking at this kitten’s cute face.
I am not saying this cat is not sad or happy or whatever. What I will say, as a discussion topic, is that we can pick up on a cat’s facial features, which can mislead us.
If we look at this cat’s face carefully we see:
- Between the eyes on the forehead, light colored and dark colored fur, in a pattern, that encourages people to think of a human frown. A human frown is present when the skin, in the same position as this cat’s, is pulled together forming peaks and troughs that are darker and lighter to the eye;
- To the outer edge of each eye we see a dark line of fur extending away from the eye towards the side of the face, which connects to the area….
- Just above the eye, where there is lighter and darker fur, which, when taken all together gives the impression that the cat is frowning.
- The mouth is turned down slightly.
All these factors give the impression this cat is sad and worried or concerned. However, a number of these factors are “impressions” due to fur patterns and coloring. This is a tabby cat and the pattern is due to that.
In conclusion, what I am saying is that this cat gives the impression that he or she is sad and concerned when, in fact, he may not be.
I think we have to be careful when we interpret a cat’s expression. We should be careful that we don’t totally depend upon our experience of looking at a human face and using that as a way of interpreting a cat’s facial expression. It may mislead us.
Note: the picture comes from Reddit and I don’t have a credit. I would love to give one but can’t. The owner of this cute cat says he or she looks sad, which gave me the idea for the post.