cats

Experimenting with my cats

Panther in the pretend square

So I recently read this study: If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) by Gabriella E.Smith, Philippe A.Chouinard, and Sarah-ElizabethByosiere. And since I think only the summery is freely available now, here is another article about it: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/if-i-fits-i-sits-experiment-shows-felines-also-sit-illusory-boxes-180977681/

Naturally, I wanted to try it out on my own cats, because this is partly why we have cats, right? For example, my cats couldn’t care less about zucchini, and they will happily sit in a square drawn with tape on the ground. Panther is faster to get into the fake boxes than Meeko, even though they both love a real 3-dimesional box. So I printed out the little pac-man shapes, and while I was arranging them and trying to decide if I was happy with the spacing, Panther came along. . . and the above picture happened before I had a chance to tape them in place.

Meeko had wandered over and sniffed at them, interested in what I was doing, but he generally has better manners than Panther and doesn’t interrupt what I’m working on. Although, in terms of the published study, I was doing this all wrong in that the cats should not have had access to the square as I was placing it. They should have been in a different room and only allowed in when I was ready for them. I never claimed to be rigorous in my home cat experiments, I’m just having fun. If you are interested in learning more about how cats perceive things like optical illusions, read the linked articles. They are interesting!

P.S. Shortly after this photo, Panther began batting the pieces around the floor because I never bothered taping them.

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