Is there such a thing as an ugly cat? Devout cat lovers would say: Of course not; they’re all adorable. But a new study that used the golden ratio of beauty to analyze the facial proportions of popular cat breeds suggests that some cats are more beautiful than others. The results might shock you.
Staffers at All About Cats, a comparison site for cat products, used stock images of felines to measure the facial proportions of 46 of the best-known cat breeds (as they were concerned with ratios, the difference in size between images did not impact the overall result). The cat experts then crunched the numbers with an online golden ratio calculator (you can use it to evaluate your own face if you want to get depressed) and came up with a ranking of the prettiest to the “ugliest” cats, “according to science.”
For the uninitiated — or those who refuse to be oppressed by set standards of beauty — the golden ratio of beauty is a symmetry algorithm that calculates attractiveness by measuring and comparing the distance between certain points on the face, like the eyes, nose, and mouth. In its most basic form, the equation divides the length of a face by its width, for which the ideal result should be the constant value for the Greek golden ratio — 1.618. (For the record, this is the standard by which Hyperallergic sizes all of its homepage images.)
More complicated measurements of the golden ratio of beauty stipulate that in a “perfect” face, the length of an ear is equal to the length of the nose and the width of an eye is equal to the distance between the eyes. The ancient Egyptians used it to build the Pyramids; Leonardo Da Vinci used it while painting the Mona Lisa; and it remains in use today by artists, architects, and yes — plastic surgeons too.
On the list of most beautiful cats, three breeds tied for the top spot, all scoring within 0.03 of the approximated golden ratio of 1.62: The regal Norwegian Forest (1.65); the athletic Russian Blue (1.65); and the common and loveable Manx (1.59). These cats are usually priced between $500-$1,700, with the Russian Blue being the most expensive, the website says.
A Himalayan lounging (via Wikimedia Commons)
Among the least fortunate breeds, the flat-faced Himalayan cat, a sub-breed of Siamese, was deemed the “ugliest” breed by a landslide. Its squashed nose and large, brooding eyes are partially responsible for shooting its golden ratio to a staggering 56.87. But aren’t these attributes an essential part of its fluffy charm?
The Himalayan is followed by the Peterbald, which, you have to admit, looks … different. Its large pointed ears and dog-like, triangular face earned it a golden ratio of 18.6. First bred in 1994, the Peterbald is a crossing two equally odd-looking breeds: the utterly bald Donskoy and the Oriental Shorthair, famous for tiny face and outsized ears.
A Peterbald (left) and a Persian (right) (courtesy All About Cats)
Last in the ranking of “ugliest” casts is the glamourous Persian with a ratio of 5.87. Though similar to the Himalayan, it’s been around for thousands of years, and can even be seen in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It’s known to be even-tempered and dignified and but again, the squashed little face and button nose weren’t helpful in the analysis.
These results are, of course, ironic because the Himalayan and Persian and some of the most expensive and sought-after cat breeds. A Himalayan costs between $200-$3,000 and the Persian ranges between $1,300-$3,000. Prices for the relatively rare Peterbald begin at $1,700. Money aside, these three breeds are also known for their affection and loyalty to humans. How dare anyone call them “ugly”? Plus, as animal rights activists remind us: Adopt, don’t shop!
All this goes to show that defining beauty by mathematical equations is a false premise. The beauty you see in others — including cats — is a reflection of the beauty in you. And let’s not forget the sage words of the Sufi poet Rumi: “The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.”
A beautiful Persian cat, although the golden ratio says otherwise (photo by Franco Vannini via Flickr)
The 10 most “beautiful” cat breeds, per the golden ratio:
Norwegian Forest (1.65)Russian Blue (1.65) Manx (1.59)Ragamuffin (1.67)Siberian (1.67)American Curl (1.56)Selkirk Rex (1.69)Siamese (1.55)Maine Coon (1.71)Egyptian Mau (1.72)