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Infinite Cat Project Archives for March 4-8, 2019.

Mewsings, March 4, 2019: "You hear 'cat woman' and you think superhero but when you hear 'cat lady' you think crazy person." - Juggle_Josh

sassy cat

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Draw me like your French cats."

Cat Mewvie: Hear now the loudness of the stray cats being stroked.


cats don't text comic

Today's Kitty Komic

sleeping cat necklace

Feline Art: "Sleeping Cat", borosilicate necklace.

cat news

Are cats psychopaths?
by Sarah Zhang

When Becky Evans started studying cat-human relationships, she kept hearing, over and over again, about how cats are psychopaths.

On one hand, anyone who has looked into the curiously blank face of a catloaf knows exactly what that means. But also, exactly what does it mean to apply a human mental diagnosis to felines? We let these clawed creatures into our homes and our beds, but we still have trouble understanding them on anything but our own human terms.

Evans, a psychology graduate student at the University of Liverpool, recently devised a survey for owners who think that their cats are psychopaths. The survey asks owners to describe the allegedly psychopathic behaviors, and so far they have included bullying other pets, taking over the dog’s bed, and waiting on the kitchen counter to pounce on unsuspecting family members. In short, pretty typical cat behavior.

These answers get at the tricky semantics of calling a cat a “psychopath” when it is just … a cat. There’s always an implicit comparison when we talk about cats as aloof little jerks, says Mikel Maria Delgado, a postdoctoral researcher on cat behavior at the University of California at Davis. And that comparison is with dogs, which humans have spent thousands more years domesticating and molding in our image.

“We like things that remind us of us,” Delgado told me. “We like smiling. We like dogs doing what we tell them. We like that they attend to us very quickly. They make a lot of eye contact.”
Read: How cats used humans to conquer the world

Cats, she pointed out, simply don’t have the facial muscles to make the variety of expressions a dog (or human) can. So when we look at a cat staring at us impassively, it looks like a psychopath who cannot feel or show emotion. But that’s just its face. Cats communicate not with facial expressions but through the positions of their ears and tails. Their emotional lives can seem inscrutable—and even nonexistent—until you spend a lot of time getting to know one.

Dogs, on the other hand, have learned to mimic humans. They do that thing where they pull their mouths back into something resembling a smile. They hang their heads in a way that looks super guilty. Just as humans have shaped the physical appearance of dogs, we’ve bred them to be extremely attuned to human social cues. Dogs that repeatedly raise their brows to make cute puppy faces are more likely to be adopted out of shelters.
Read: Your dog feels no shame

A common charge against cats is that they do not care about their owners as anything more than a source of wet food. In studies of pet-owner relationships, scientists have found that dogs are more “attached” to owners. These studies frequently rely on protocol called the Ainsworth Strange Situation, in which the pet explores an unfamiliar environment alone, with its owner, or with a stranger. Dogs are more at ease with their owners rather than with strangers. Cats can’t seem to care less about the human there.

Maybe this says something about pet-owner attachment, but Delgado noted that dogs are used to their owners taking them to new places. Cats are territorial, and they might only leave the house to go to the vet, so what looks like indifference to their owners might just be overwhelming anxiety about a new, strange environment. Plus, the Ainsworth Strange Situation was developed by Mary Ainsworth to study parents and infants—another example of us judging cats on human rather than cat terms.

Also, not all cats. There are terrifying cats, but there are also cats who just want to snuggle all day. Delgado was taking her cat on a walk when I called her. Evans has a lovely ginger tomcat, who definitely is not a psychopath and who definitely was not the inspiration for her latest research.

The survey, Evans hopes, is just the first step in devising a way to measure psychopathy in cats. She’d like to eventually study cats in their natural habitat—their house—so as not to rely on the word of their owners. The ultimate goal of the research is to devise a test for shelters so they can better match cats with owners. Whether it’s fair to call a cat a psychopath, we naturally do it, and it affects how well new owners and their cats will get along.

Talk to experienced cat owners, of course, and you’ll quickly find that psychopathy, or something that looks like it, is hardly a dealbreaker. When the subject came up in the office, my colleague Rachel Gutman launched into a tribute to her childhood cat K.C., who terrorized everyone but her immediate family members and, for some reason, Carmine the electrician. He’d bite anyone who dared to pet him. He’d attack her grandfather’s ankles. He’d pee in her grandmother’s bed when she came to visit. “In conclusion,” she said, “he was the best cat, and I miss him every day.”

Mewsings, March 5, 2019: "I was only a small child when the seeds of cat enchantment were
sown within me." - May Eustace

kitty hut

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Would you like fries with that?"

Cat Mewvie: Song for a blind kitty.


kitty resting place

Today's Kitty Komic

cat graphite art

Feline Art: "Old Friend", graphite drawing, artist unknown.

Mewsings, March 6, 2019: "The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city". - Italo Calvino

cat buddies

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Mah buddy, mah pal, mah friend."

Cat Mewvie: Nothing stops the kitty.


high fiving the cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat island art

Feline Art: "Cat Island" by Elizabeth Jancewicz.

Mewsings, March 7, 2019: "A cat is an example of sophistication minus civilization."
- Anonymous

imperious cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: "We. Are. Not. Amused."

Cat Mewvie: Kitty vs. cables.


cats in restaurant comic

Today's Kitty Komic

black cat ink drawing

Feline Art: "Black Cat" by Dave Dick.

Mewsings, March 8, 2019: "A cat is a tiger that is fed by hand."
- Vakaoka Genrins

salvador dali cat

Gratuitous Kittiness: The purr-sistance of memory.

Cat Mewvie: Kitty overdoes it.


cat tree box cat

Today's Kitty Komic

tuxedo cat portrait

Feline Art: "A Portrait of Mona", artist unknown.

black cat with big eyes

Grocery cat gets sacked.
by Kate Bernot

This is the story of Stormy the cat, a former shelter kitty who for the last six years has enjoyed a lazy, lounging life as the indifferent mascot of the Fritz Creek General Store in Homer, Alaska. I picture days filled with sunlit naps next to the magazine rack, ear scratches from friendly regulars, and the occasional indulgent can of tuna. (I just think it’s important to paint the full picture here; Stormy doubtless contains multitudes)

Homer News only describes Stormy as a “black, slightly overweight female cat,” who was “beloved” by the store’s shoppers. But here Stormy’s story takes a dark turn: The Alaska Department Of Environmental Conservation’s Food Safety And Sanitation Program told the store’s owners that Stormy’s presence is a food-safety violation, and the cat has to go. You may commence painting your “Justice For Stormy” and “#StormyStays” placards now.

This story is receiving the national attention it deserves thanks to the Associated Press, who picked up the plight of this food-unsafe feline. Apparently, someone complained about Stormy to the food-safety officials, whose section manager Jeremy Ayers tells the AP that because the office received a complaint and subsequently observed the cat on premise during a follow-up visit, authorities were forced to take action. They notified the store’s owners that Stormy’s presence was a violation and that she’d have to be relocated. A member of the owners’ family says she will take in Stormy.

Store regular Al Breitzman brings up a solid point to the Associated Press, saying that Stormy might make Fritz Creek General Store an even more sanitary place by catching rodents. With Stormy gone, who will guide shoppers to the (quite sanitary, I’m sure) bathroom?


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