Monday 16 August 2021

Can you detect a faint smile on this rehabilitated feral cat?

This is Sad Boy. As you can see, he had a hard life as an unneutered feral cat. In the photograph on the left his face is tense, his eyes are closed slightly, his nose is badly scarred through fighting, and his mouth points slightly downwards. All in all, his face as a feral cat indicates the difficulty in surviving.

Can you detect a faint smile on this rehabilitated feral cat?
Can you detect a faint smile on this rehabilitated feral cat? Photo: Reddit user: u/PoetsSquareCats.

Move forward a couple or three months and thanks to the care of an individual (we don't know her or his name), he is rehabilitated. Sad Boy appears to have been a semi-domesticated feral cat because he looks domesticated in the second photograph implying that it didn't take that long to integrate him into the human lifestyle.

What is noticeable is the lightness in his face. I even detect, I believe, a faint smile. His eyes are slightly more open and the tenseness in his face has disappeared.

Also, his jowly cheeks have disappeared. This is because, I presume, he has been castrated (neutered) and when you do that the production of testosterone is more or less completely stopped (but not entirely as it happens as the adrenal glands produce this hormone). This shrinks the cheeks and you end up with this slightly less masculine appearance.

The two photographs help us to focus on a domestic cat's facial expressions. I suspect that a lot of people think that domestic cats have no facial expressions. They are used to seeing the same impassive face every day. This leads people into believing that domestic cats are aloof. It is not actually true. They do have facial expressions and they are not aloof. Pain is certainly reflected in a cat's face. That is been established scientifically and a cell phone app has been created to read a cat's face so that the owner can better understand their mood.

Perhaps, the subtle changes in the expression of a cat when their mood lightens as reflected in this pair of photographs, is due to the fact that they suffer pain with greater stoicism than humans. Humans express their emotions almost wildly sometimes through facial expressions. There is a stark difference between felines and humans in this regard.

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