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New study finds certain people are ‘cat whisperers’
People with veterinary experience generally achieved higher scores.

Results could lead to better understanding of cat’s needs

A new study from the University of Guelph has revealed that certain types of people are adept at reading cat’s facial expressions.

More than 6,300 participants across 85 countries were asked to watch 20 videos featuring closeups of cat’s faces displaying a range of emotions and reactions to different stimuli.

Sounds and surroundings were edited out, and none of the videos featured expressions of fear, such as flattened ears or hissing, as these are already commonly understood.

Participants were asked to state whether the emotion being portrayed was positive or negative.

Results of the study further supported the notion that cats are difficult to read. With the average score being 12 out of 20. However, 13 per cent of participants – dubbed ‘the cat whisperers’ by researchers – scored 15 or higher.

Women were more likely to be a part of this group. As were younger adults and those with veterinary experience. Surprisingly, people who reported a strong attachment to cats did not necessarily score higher than those who didn’t.

“The fact that women generally scored better than men is consistent with previous research that has shown that women appear to be better at decoding non-verbal displays of emotion, both in humans and dogs.” Said Prof Georgia Mason, who led the study with Prof Lee Niel.

According to the researchers, the fact that people with veterinary experience scored higher did not necessarily indicate a natural skill but rather a learned ability, resulting from the need to discern a cat’s well-being in practice.

“The ability to read animals’ facial expressions is critical to welfare assessment.” Commented Prof Niel. “Our finding that some people are outstanding at reading these subtle clues suggests it’s a skill more people can be trained to do.”

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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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News Shorts
New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.