Caturday felid trifecta: Liquid cats, reading cats’ facial expressions (take a quiz to see how good you are), cats in nativity scenes (and lagniappe)

Today’s Caturday links begin with a post at Sad and Useless on the liquidity of cats.  I’ll show a few pictures of cats conforming to their containers, but there are many more at the site.

Now I’m not sure why cats want to scrunch themselves up into small and uncomfortable containers or boxes, but my theory (which is mine) is that it makes the moggies feel secure, perhaps because their ancestor, the European wildcat, holes up during the day, and perhaps builds dens (I don’t know about dens). Therefore being enclosed increases security. Regardless, have a gander at the pictures below and go to the site by clicking on the screenshot of the title:


From the Washington Post, we have an article about the facial expressions of cats. If you’ve owned cats, you’ll know that you can read some of them, especially when a cat is angry.  But most of the time they’re inscrutable (you’ll know this because when cats are ill, you detect it, if you do, from their behavior rather than their facial expression.

Here’s an excerpt:

Cats have a reputation for being “inscrutable,” the researchers say, and their results mostly back up this notion. More than 6,000 study participants in 85 countries, the vast majority of them cat owners, watched brief cat videos and then judged the animals’ moods. The average score was just under 60 percent correct — an F, if cat videos were a school subject.

However, 13 percent of participants did quite well, scoring 75 percent or above. The researchers dubbed these achievers “cat whisperers” — and said their results are important.

“Cats are telling us things with their faces, and if you’re really skilled, you can spot it,” said author Georgia Mason, a behavioral biologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario. “Some people can do it — that means there’s something there. That means that cats are hard to read,” but not wholly inscrutable, she said.

Women, who made up three-fourths of participants, scored better than men, but not by much. Younger people did better than older people. But the most skilled diviners of feline feelings were people with professional experience involving cats, including veterinarians. (You can take a shortened version of the survey here.)

Actually, you can take that survey here, which involves looking at 8 two-second videos of cats’ facial expressions and judging whether the cat is feeling positive, negative, or you don’t know. Here are my results; I did okay. (After you answer each question, you’ll be told whether you were right, and why.  6 out of 8, however, is not statistically distinguishable from 4 out of 8: the average of guessing randomly. Ergo, I’m not a “cat whisperer”. (I think the first line is wrong; 85% could not have scored them correctly.)

Report below how well you did.


Cats are well known for insinuating themselves into nativity scenes at Christmas time, and atheists like me find it hilarious when they take the place of Baby Jesus in the cradle or manger. Here, from Bored Panda (click on screenshot) are many times when cats ruined a religious icon. I’ll show just a few, but go over there to see many more.

Here’s the hilarious Jesus Displacement:

Kacper Pempel

From reddit:From Kate Bottley:

From Brooke Goldman:

From tillotsonchic:


And a bit of lagniappe. Watch the cat ponder his malfeasance before he strikes!

The YouTube notes:

Sitting on the arm of a sofa, Ruta the cat wonders how he can bother Howie the dog. After long seconds of reflection, the cat has made its decision, it will give a paw in the ear of the dog. A scene that made their master laugh a lot.


h/t: Bill, Michael, Merilee, Barry


  1. Andrea Kenner
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Well, I aced the cat expression quiz! That’s probably not too surprising, given that I’m a lifelong CCL (Crazy Cat Lady).

    I wonder if this is better than when El Presidente aced his cognition test!

  2. Jeannie Hess
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I am a cat whisperer with a score of 100%! It must be true: My dog who hates cats is becoming a cat during this pandemic. He spends more and more time snuggled beside me. He loves to be petted. No purring. Yet.

  3. Linda Mercer
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Took the cat test — got 100%

  4. jezgrove
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I only scored 65.5% (5/8) – no wonder our toothless cat Marcus Clawrelius (pretentious, moi?) thinks I’m stupid!

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      D’oh! 62.5% – stupid and I’ve apparently got fat fingers, too!

      • Posted August 15, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        You do double comments aaaall the time! I got the second one wrong w high is funny as it seems quite the most obvious…

        • jezgrove
          Posted August 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          “I got the second one wrong w high is funny”: yup, that’s why I double post!

  5. Ruthann Richards
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Also 100%. And a crazy cat lady. Someone with even limited cat experience could do well on the test if he/she spent “quality” time with the cat, observing the behavior.

  6. Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I tried the first few cat clips in the test but found they were such poor quality (fuzzy and jerky) that I gave up.

  7. phar84
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    7/8, love cats but not owned by one.

  8. Andy Lowry
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    100& here, but I have the advantage of having been raised by cats.

  9. Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I got 6/8, but I think it’s a poor test in that I found myself using the cats movements as a queue, rather than just its facial expression. Or rather, what it tests is not really facial expression, but behaviour especially including head movements.

  10. Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    100%, most seemed easy, only one was challenging to me.

  11. Rick Bannister
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I scored 7 out of 8 and my one incorrect was when I said I didn’t know. I relied mostly on ear movements. Ears and especially tails are the best indicators of a cat’s mood.

  12. Posted August 15, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of Loki showing up in the Nativity.

  13. Posted August 15, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    What I understand is the ‘slow blink’, and cocking an ear away from the huumann are supposed to be important signals.

  14. amyt
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    100%. Most I didn’t even have to play the video.
    It’s all about the eyes.

  15. MacSlernz
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I am happy with that. The video I got wrong was hard to pick, short duration 3sec and out of focus. Never mind.

    I have two Burmese cats, Siti and Obama. I can generally read how they are feeling from their body language.

  16. Posted August 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I got 7 out of 8 (87.5%) on the cat facial expression quiz. I might be a cat whisperer!

  17. Mike
    Posted August 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I took the cat test. I scored well but the test itself is ridiculous. In most cases the justification given in the text for the true answer (positive or negative) was based on evidence not in the video (a screen door, tail posture, cat jumping into owner’s lap) rather than evidence from the cat’s face.

    • Posted August 15, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      The justifications were just explaining the the designated correct answer was, in fact, correct. My biggest complaint is that the clips were so short and blurry.

      • jezgrove
        Posted August 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Yup, as the person with the lowest score (or at least the person willing to admit to the lowest score) I have to agree with your complaint!

        • Posted August 15, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          I pride myself as being good at decoding the expressions of our cats but not when looking at those clips. So rather than get a bad score, I thought I would complain about the testing conditions. 😉

          • jezgrove
            Posted August 15, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

            Given that Marcus Clawrelius (pretentious, moi?) has no teeth it’s understandable that his facial expressions are limited, which is my excuse, and I’m sticking with it! (Btw, the “pretentious, moi?” thing after using his full name is like the “peace be upon him” said after mentioning you-know-who.)

            • Posted August 15, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

              Yes, Marcus Clawrelius is an excellent cat name. Ours are Zing and Brio, short and spicy. As far as recognizing their moods, it’s all in the eyes and ears. Interestingly, Zing always seems to be trying to read my expressions by staring into my eyes. Brio, on the other hand, often feigns disinterest yet is the more emotional of the two. If I stroke him too long, the pleasure gets too intense and he starts biting me hard while purring the whole time.

        • sugould
          Posted August 16, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          Top scorers: did you take the just first test or also the *advanced* test?

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