Cat Project Archives for April 8-12, 2019.
8, 2019: "The cat does not offer services. The cat
offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You
don't buy love for nothing. Like all pure creatures, cats
are practical." - William S. Burroughs
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Is everybody happy?"
Cat Mewvie: Get down, kitty.
Feline Art: "Kittens On
the Brain", artist unknown.
your kitty you're just a cat. A biiiiig cat.
by Rick Moran
Many of us who are kept by cats fervently believe that our beloveds see
us as their parent. But recent research has revealed something that might
Our kitties see us as another big, non-hostile cat.
This means that our cats' interactions with us are driven by instinct
more than learned behaviors.
When your cat kneads your lap or another surface, it's a behavior meant
for a mother's belly that keeps milk flowing.
When your cat greets you with an upright tail, this is a friendly sign
reserved for greeting a non-hostile cat. Bradshaw describes this behavior
as "probably the clearest way cats show their affection for us."
Rubbing against your legs and grooming you is another a way your feline
treats you like a cat. If you have multiple cats, you've probably witnessed
these shared behaviors between your pets.
And when your feline friend brings you the occasional dead rodent or
half-eaten insect, it's not a gift or an attempt to feed you.
Your cat simply wants a safe place to eat his kill. When he bites into
his catch, he realizes the food you provide tastes better, so he leaves
the remains of the prey behind.
Of course, most of us will continue to treat our feline friends as our
kids. I'm sure the cat doesn't care, just as long as the food bowl is
full and the litterbox is reasonably clean.
The implications of this peek into cat thinking are interesting. And
it explains why cats have no problem leaving their human companions and
returning to a feral state.
By the same token, that independence is perhaps the most attractive character
trait of cats. They don't need us to survive, but they stay with us anyway
-- not because we're substitute mamas, but because they are comfortable
9, 2019: "The most useful thing about cats is how
well they validate your desire to lie around all day." -
Reddit user "TheFlightlessPenguin"
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Baby, it's cold outside."
Cat Mewvie: Little bunny child.
Feline Art: "The
Summer Never Ends" by
Tran Anh Vu.
10, 2019: "Homeowner has the word 'meow' in it."-
Gratuitous Kittiness: How to make friends.
Cat Mewvie: Guarding the fish
market. Stray cats and mice beware!
Art: "Mermaid Cat" by Viven Wu.
11, 2019: "When your cat rubs the side of its face
along your leg, it's affectionately marking you with its
scent, identifying you as its private property, saying,
in effect, 'You belong to me'."
- Susan McDonough, D.M.V.
Gratuitous Kittiness: "I'm a bigger-picture kind of cat."
Cat Mewvie: Maru and the sled.
Feline Art: "The
12, 2019: "Cats do care. For example, they know instinctively
what time we have to be at work in the morning; and they
wake us up twenty minutes before the alarm goes off." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: Each year, like clockwork, the Grey-Throated
from their winter quarters to begin nesting.
Cat Mewvie: Kitten rescue.
Feline Art: "Mah
know their names as well as dogs.... they're just
by Matthew Schwartz
Call a dog by his name, and his tail wags, he starts panting happily,
and he showers you with love and affection.
Call a cat by his name, and... well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does
the cat even know what his name is?
So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand
the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds
Research on cats is slim compared to research on dogs. That may be because
cats can't be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study
published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the Japanese researchers
devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.
Researchers conducted a series of experiments in which a person would
speak four different words, and then say the cat's name. According to
the study, the words chosen were "nouns with the same length and
accents as their own names." If the cat acted differently when it
heard its name, the scientists would know that the cat could distinguish
its own name from other words.
The reason for saying four words before the name was to "habituate" the
cats — or get them accustomed to hearing words spoken. Cats often
move their heads or ears when hearing words spoken, but that response
diminished after four words. Only then was it time to say the name — and
see how the cats responded.
Researchers conducted several versions of the experiment, all held at
the cat's home, with the owner out of view. In one version, researchers
would play a recording of the owner saying the four words with a 15-second
pause between each, followed by the cat's name. In another version, an
unfamiliar voice would say the words and the name. Sometimes the words
weren't just nouns, but the names of other cats that lived in the house.
In any case, the results were clear: Most of the cats moved their head
or ears in response to hearing their name. The results, researchers said,
showed that the cats could identify their own names among other similar
"We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances
based on phonemic differences," the researchers wrote. "This is the
first experimental evidence showing cats' ability to understand human verbal
Do the cats actually understand that the name represents their identity?
That part is unclear, lead study author Atsuko Saito of Sophia University
in Tokyo told the Associated Press. What is clear is that the cat's name
is "salient stimulus," the researchers said, "and may
be associated with rewards, such as food, petting, and play."
So whether or not Sprinkles identifies herself as Sprinkles, she knows
that the word carries a special meaning.
Jennifer Vonk, a professor at Oakland University specializing in animal
cognition, told NPR via email that she loved the study's methodology,
which didn't require extensive training and could be done in an environment
where the cats were comfortable. "I agree with the authors that
it cannot tell us if cats represent their names as a label that identifies
them, but it is interesting that they do attend to it as a special signal,
probably associated with rewards such as food and petting," said
Vonk, who was not involved in the study.
The study found one minor exception to cats recognizing their name: cats
who lived with others in a cat cafe. Those cats could distinguish their
name from random nouns, but not from the names of the other cats. Researchers
offered multiple possible explanations — maybe different cafe customers
call their names with different intonation, or maybe customers say a
cat's name without offering a reward. "For example, if a visitor
calls cat A, but cat B approaches to the visitor and cat B gets petting
and treats instead of cat A," that would "make name discrimination
less relevant for these cats," researchers wrote.
Peter Pongracz, a professor specializing in the study of animal behavior
at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, said by email
that the study was "very smartly designed," while noting that
the sample that actually demonstrated the "interesting results" was
Pongracz defended the tendency of cats to not respond when called, compared
to the obedience of dogs. Dogs have been bred for millennia to be easy-to-train
and responsive to humans, he said. Although cats were also domesticated
long ago, humans didn't put as much of a premium on training them to
respond. "Most cats fare really well with humans by simply being
cute," Pongracz said.
If a cat is less effusive in its affection, that doesn't necessarily
mean they are individualistic or antisocial, he said; cats respond in
their own way. "As the Japanese study showed, cats respond to their
name with not necessarily a quick run to their owner, but maybe with
a simple, subtle twitch of their ears."
So cat lovers, take note. Even if your cat doesn't greet you with the
same ardor as a dog, he loves you just the same.