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Infinite Cat Project Archives for January 21-25, 2019.

Mewsings, January 21, 2019: "We have a theory that cats are planning to take over the world, just try to look them straight in the eye...yup, they're hiding something!" - Dog Fancy

cat basking among flowers

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Basking in beauty.

Cat Mewvie: Excitement is afoot


cats are aloof comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat watercolor

Feline Art: "Crossing Over", by Reddit user "Droseng".

cat news

If you think cats are antisocial it may be that you're just a jerk.
by Karin Brulliard

Dogs may have stolen the Internet from cats, but cat memes endure - and many center on one theme: Cats are aloof jerks.

The primary ambassador of this notion, naturally, is Grumpy Cat. But cats of all sorts, these memes tell us, desire to be left alone with their coffee, or demand darkness, or prefer ankle attacks to head scratches.

Okay, maybe you know cats that fit the bill. But it is not the case that "cats skew toward independency", in the words of a new study on cat social behavior.

In fact, researchers at Oregon State University found, many pet and shelter cats are pretty eager to interact with humans - particularly people who seek out kitty caresses.

"In both groups, we found [cats] spent significantly more time with people who were paying attention to them than people who were ignoring them," said Kristyn R. Vitale, a postdoctoral scholar in animal behavior and the lead author of the paper, which was published in the journal Behavioral Processes.

This may come as little surprise to people who have spent time with cats, some of which might be confused with lap dogs.

Nor was it a great surprise to Vitale, whose previous research found that cats will choose to interact with humans over food or toys.

But the idea that cats are attuned to our behavior and respond to it remains somewhat novel, because despite cats' popularity as pets, little research has been done on their social relations with people.

That might be, the study says, "due in part to a common misconception that cats are not a social species" - the meme fodder.

"It's a cool study, and it does show that when we're attentive to cats, they are interested," said Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow who studies cat behavior at the University of California at Davis's School of Veterinary Medicine.

The study consisted of two experiments. In the first, 46 cats - half at a shelter, half at their own homes - were placed in a room with a stranger who sat still on the floor.

For two minutes, the person pretty much ignored the cat; for another two minutes, the person could call the animal by name and pet it freely when it approached. The second involved only pet cats, who went through the same two cycles with their owners.

On average, the cats spent much more time near the human when showered with attention, Vitale said.

Delgado praised the "cat-directed" design of the study, noting that previous research has suggested that cats are usually more into interactions that they instigate.

"Even in the attentive phase, the cat had a lot of control, and that's really what we think they like - the ability to leave," Delgado said. "It's not that they're aloof. It's just that they want choice."

The 23 shelter cats in the study, whose stays at the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis, Oregon, ranged from three to 455 days, spent more time than pet cats interacting with the inattentive person, which Vitale said could reflect that those felines needed attention or that their living situation conditioned them to unfamiliar people.

John Bradshaw, a University of Bristol biologist who has long studied cat behavior, cautioned against reading much into the differences between the two groups, because cats are territorial, and only the pets were tested in familiar surroundings.

"Cats behave quite differently depending on whether they know the place they're in," Bradshaw said.

But Bradshaw said the study importantly emphasized that cats are kind of like us at an individual level: Sure, some are aloof. But some are plenty friendly.

Why that is remains unclear, though he said his own work has pointed to "a complex interplay between genetics, early experience of humans, and learning during adolescence."

The takeaway for cat owners, Vitale said, is that it's worth making the first move even the most detached-seeming kitty.

"In my opinion, it's very important to go out and try to interact with your cat and see what happens," she said.

"I think there's this idea that dogs are this way, and cats are that way. But there's a lot of variability in both populations."

By offering a little love to a grumpy cat, Vitale added, "you may actually be helping them become more social toward you.".

Mewsings, January 22, 2019: "If you yell at a cat, you're the one who is making a fool of yourself."
- Unknown

cat hiding under cabinet

Gratuitous Kittiness: When you can't find your cat.

Cat Mewvie: Kitten acrobatics.


cat meets genie comic

Today's Kitty Komic

scratchboard cat art

Feline Art: "Dark-Eyed Cat" scratchboard art by Reddit user "Klusie".

Mewsings, January 23, 2019: "An ordinary kitten will ask more questions than any five year old."
- Carl Van Vechten

cat feeds fish to kittens

Gratuitous Kittiness: Feeding time!

Cat Mewvie: "I hear you knockin'.


lazy cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

two tigers art

Feline Art: "Coffee Tigers" by Reddit user "Gnevol".

Mewsings, January 24, 2019: "Essentially, you do not so much teach your cat as bribe him." - Lynn Holly

black and white cat napping together

Gratuitous Kittiness: Bunk buddies.

Cat Mewvie: Shootin' the shit with Mr. Clinton.


cat futility comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat brain art

Feline Art: "Rest" by Reddit user "anxietycatto".

Mewsings, January 25, 2019: "There are few things in life more heart warming than to be welcomed by a cat." - Tay Hohoff

introvert cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: The Introvert.

Cat Mewvie: The "Meow-Meow" song.


kitten wisdom comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat eats tentacle art

Feline Art: "Heeeere, kitty-kitty" by Eugene Korolev.

college cat

Harvard's favorite cat.
by Mary Jo Dilonardo

Technically, Remy the cat doesn't live at Harvard University.

The 4-year-old orange tabby has a loving family (and a home) about a mile away from the edge of campus. But his owners know the kitten likes to stroll, and his favorite haunts are the nearby vaunted buildings and Ivy League green space.

"He has been in student dorms, at parties, attended lectures, and taken photos with tourists in Harvard Yard," his owner, Cambridge resident Sarah Watton, tells The Harvard Gazette.

All doors on campus are open to Remy the Harvard cat. (Photo: Rose Lincoln/Harvard University)
Watton said her family originally tried to walk Remy on a leash, but he would have none of that and always managed to find a way to escape. He always comes home eventually — but only after sauntering around campus, making friends and visiting his favorite hangouts. Remy has become so popular that he has his own Facebook page, which has more than 4,100 followers.

Remy followers post photos of the cat napping in offices, visiting labs and staking claims to boxes throughout campus. Fans are excited about Remy sightings, often posing for selfies with the famous feline.

However, it appears not everyone on campus is aware of Harvard's renowned visitor. Law professor Annette Gordon-Reed tweeted a photo of Remy sauntering along a hallway in the law school, saying it was the first time she had seen the cat.The tweet inspired a Twitter moment, which brought even more attention to the collegiate cat.

Remy once went missing for several weeks, according to the Gazette, and his owners used his Facebook page to help locate him. These days, he wears a GPS tracker on his collar. But there are still his legions of friends and followers who help keep an eye on him wherever he meanders on campus.

Says Watton, "We really appreciate Remy’s community and the love and happiness he spreads wherever he goes!"


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