Smiling or grinning is an often human expression of being kind (as a friendly expression), pleased or amused. When it happens, the outer mouth corner curves upwards slightly and the lips may part to show the front teeth.
From the smiley cat face emoji to Cheshire cat smile (popularized by the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll children’s book) to the many images and videos on the internet depicting a cute, funny cat smiling, it is logic whether these pets or animals smile or not.
Can cats smile?
No. Most animal behaviorists have noted cats don’t smile or laugh in the same way we do. Instead, they have other ways to show their affection, amusement or happiness even though they might not be as friendly, willing to please or loving like dogs.
There are instances when they make faces that seem as if they are grinning. For instance, “certain odors, especially pheromone-rich ones like urine, can trigger the ‘flehmen response’, where cats draw scent particles to the roof of their mouth to be analyzed by their extra sensory receptor, the Jacobson’s organ,” notes Sciencefocus.com.
During the flehmen response, they will often tilt their head, squint their eyes and their lips will be curled.
However, such faces are not always an indication that they are amused, happy or excited. It often indicates something else.
Furthermore, according to Ecoloyg.com, since cats have a bowed mouth, “it’s tricky to pinpoint an actual smile.”
Finally, if your cat bares his or her teeth, something that looks like he or she is grinning, it is often a sign of aggression and not a sign of amusement.
How do cats smile?
While having states that kitties do not grin in the same manner human beings do. They have a different way of doing so including the use of body language or vocalization. Such ways include:
- Slow blinking – often referred as to a kitty-kiss, it is the closest to smiling which indicates your feline friend is happy, relaxed and trusts you. Sometimes kitties may also wink.
- Purring – indicates that your kitty is contented, relaxed and happy.
- Rolling on their back – it feels contented, secure and trying to get your attention. When rolling, they will expose their belly.
- Ears forward – It indicates that your feline friend is happy, attentive or interested
- Erect tail with fur flat – this is a sign that your kitty is happy, alert or being inquisitive.
Also, they can use other ways to show they are happy or amused including head bumps, being playful, kneading, wanting to be near you, not hiding, bringing you gifts, and so forth.
Furthermore, to correctly interpret your feline pal’s body language, you need to consider other cues she may be having.