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Cute face – pros or cons for cats?

Humans have selected breeds of cats over generations to create cats with extremely cute faces. However, this crossbreed has a downside – some cats have frowning faces, have difficulty expressing their emotions, and cause unwanted illnesses in cats.

A recent study published in the journal Frontiers of Animal Science found that selective breeding of brachycephalic face type – similar to that of purebred Persians and Himalayan cats – decreased cats’ ability to express fear, anxiety. or pain. These gray-faced cats have a permanent grimace that looks like pain, though not at all.

Lauren Finka, Postdoctoral Fellow at Nottingham Trent University (UK), said: “This result really opened my eyes. I didn’t expect cute cats with puff marks to show. signs. appears as pain “.

Mèo Ba Tư và mèo Himalaya thuần chủng.
Purebred Persian and Himalayan cats.

Một chú mèo lai Ba Tư gương mặt cau có và chiếc mũi cực ngắn do đột biến gene.A Persian-hybrid cat with a scowl and a very short nose caused by a genetic mutation.

The face was a constant scowl

Finka said that the fact that these cats always frown can prevent owners from knowing when their cats are really in pain. Additionally, although facial expressions are important in non-verbal communication in animals, very little research shows that breeding can make it difficult for cats to express their emotions.

To substantiate this point, Finka and his colleagues used a computer algorithm to analyze facial data from more than 2,000 cat photos and assign each photo a score ranging from neutral to wrinkled. watch completely.

Comparing the neutral facial expressions of different breeds of cats to the grimace of painful British shorthair cats, Finka and her colleagues found that: although cats were not expressive But the cat’s facial expression when suffers or when completely normal is the same. Meanwhile, the penguin-eared cat scored even higher in painful facial expression than the short-haired cat who actually suffered from pain.

A cat with a dog’s ear normally appears more painful than a cat in real pain.

Why are sullen-faced cats popular?

One theory is that we have bred animals to live longer as infants, using a process called “neotenization”. This word comes from “neotenia” – the phenomenon of an adult child who does not completely change its morphology, but retains some of the phenotypic characteristics of the young.

“We may have an innate preference for traumatic traits that seem distressing because they give us a sense of compassion and protection,” Ms. Finka said.

In fact, human preference for a child’s face can be harmful to cat friends. Previous studies have shown that breeding to create cute features on a cat’s face causes a variety of illnesses such as narrowing of the airways, excessive wrinkles or problems with breathing and eye sight.

A wrinkled face, no matter how cute, can interfere with a cat’s way of communicating with its owner so the cat can be overlooked even if the cat is in serious pain. “Be sure to do your research before deciding to buy a cat,” Ms. Finka revealed: “It is important that we consider the animal’s ability to communicate.”

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