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RE: Partly-scientific answer to question about cats

Quoting Janet m vandenburgh <van02@cox.net>:

> I guess you have never been treated to a Borzoi smile.   
> When they smile, there is no way to confuse that with a snarl - their whole
> being radiates happiness or embarrassment - they grin for both emotions.
> This is usually accompanied by head nodding, bowing, silly antics - and
> direct eye contact with the person they're addressing; lip flaps raised so
> high they practically touch on top of their muzzle - and showing every tooth
> in their head!!!!.    
> Some other breeds can do the Borzoi smile & the odd individual dog. 
> It's a real experience to see or be party to. :-)

Yes - but their 'smile' isn't just an upturned mouth. It's a combination of 
facial expressions (mainly the 
eyes and ears) and body stance. You can tell a dog is happy even if it doesn't 
open it's mouth slightly 
to mimic a smiling human mouth, just by looking at the eyes alone. Dogs have 
extremely expressive 
eyes (hence the eyebrow-like markings in several species). Body posture also 
provides equally 
important clues to their mood.

Again, it depends on what you consider a 'smile'. Clearly an upturned mouth 
alone isn't enough to 
convey happiness, but has to be taken within the context of other facial 
expressions and general body 
posture. When dogs 'smile' it's usually a whole-body affair, and can be 
accomplished without any 
upturn of the corners of the mouth. Even breeds with downturned mouths (like 
bulldogs) can convey 

Cats, on the other hand, tend to 'smile' by narrowing their eyes, which is 
unfortunate because in 
humans such an expression usually signifies the opposite of happiness. If a cat 
squints at you 
menacingly, it probably means it likes you. The difference in how cats and dogs 
convey mood may well 
be the main factor determining whether you're a 'dog person' or a 'cat person'. 
Dogs are much easier 
to read even if you've never spent much time around them, whereas you need 
experience with cats to 
interpret their moods. Their lack of easily interpetable facial expression can 
give them an air of 
aloofness that isn't entirely deserved.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist              http://geo_cities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia             http://heretichides.soffiles.com