Humans have been breeding cats and dogs for decades. When it comes to felines, humans aim to exhibit their exaggerated features such as very flat round faces, like the Persian and Exotic Shorthair.

These breeds were based on humans’ preference for infant-like features, which may tap their nurturing instincts.

Although cats with such features may be great to look at, there are downsides for the animals. Flat-faced animals, also known as “brachycephalic,” are usually associated with a shortened muzzle, narrowed airways, excessive skin folding, and shallow eye sockets. All these can cause health issues such as breathing difficulties.

A new study shows that these features not only pose a threat to the animals’ health, but also to their ability to effectively communicate and express themselves.

Researchers from United Kingdom and Brazil analyzed pictures of almost 2,000 cat faces, and found that brachycephalic faced animals appeared to display more “pain-like” expressions, even though flat-faced cats were not in pain.

Their findings show that humans are not only attracted to animals that look like an infant, but also to those who look more vulnerable, injured or in distress. Unfortunately, the existence of breeds with serious health problems may potentially harm the animals.

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