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Old 02-24-2011, 03:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do cats smile? Do they understand smiles?

Do any animals smile? And what about cats? And do our house cats one day start noticing our smiles and understanding them or associating them with positive feelings?

I think I saw Prince start smiling when I started petting him the other day. His closed mouth line (lips?) seemed to widen and the ends tipped upwards a tiny bit. I think. Then again, it could be my imagination or the fact that, when relaxed, his mouth relaxes and the line widens. But what's interesting is that my intuition receives a message that says that "Prince is smiling" in that moment. This may be an anthropomorphizing reflex in me. Or maybe something else...?

One thing is for sure: smiling is not a technological advancement but an animal instinct we humans have. So if we have it, surely other animals have it too?
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Apes do, as my ex demonstrated sometimes.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think my cats have contented looks sometimes. Cali looks like she's smiling in my avatar. Sometimes I think it might scare them when we smile, though, because showing teeth in the animal world doesn't mean happiness.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yes, Cali's mouth line in your avatar is exactly what I meant I saw in Prince.

And I know that snakes smile too, if we judge by my ex.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There are some very valuable old threads in catforum, pity it's not allowed to link to them for the enrichment of us all !
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The Royal von Meouw Dynasty: His Royal Highness the late Prince von Meouw,
Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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It's better to start new threads than post links to 5-year old outdated threads.
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think you have to notice how your cat's face expresses mood to determine what they may be looking for on a human's face. cat's change the position of their ears, squint or widen they eyelids, stick out the tip of their tongue, roll their head or angle it up or down, show their teeth, not to mention the various different noises they may make. so a human may need to be mindful on how they use facial expressions within the context of a cat's experience. for example - when I smile at my cat I try not to expose my teeth as it might confuse them into thinking it's an aggressive expression. a smile to a cat may actually involve sticking the tip of your tongue out a bit and closing your eyes more, and have nothing to do with how you curve your lips and cheeks into a human smile.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yes, when I smile at my kitties, I close my eyes until they're like slits and then I don't expose my teeth. However, you got a point there with sticking the top of your tongue out a bit. I never saw my cats do that, but it's probably more closer to a cat smile than a human smile.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My meowmmy today suddenly started making all these very funny faces, like closing her eyes and sticking her tongue out... I wonder what the problem is with her, I much preferred when she used to smile at me... - Prince

Just kidding. Now seriously: I was wondering (apart from ex husbands) which animals smile the way that humans do? Apes? Only apes?
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Her Royal Highness Princess Gatita von Meouw, Nikita Duchess of Meouw and
His Highness Cuchi-Cuchi, next in line for the throne of Prince von Meouw.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think cats that have been very well socialized from birth don't react to smiling as an aggressive or threatening gesture. Just think of all the people they meet that are smiling and oohing and ahhing over their kitten cuteness. In fact I think they come to recognize it is the opposite. What I do notice is when I smile or laugh my cats will deliberately do crazy stuff that they know makes me smile even more. I think they do it because they know it amuses me, and I guess it amuses them!
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