We have released several new CatSci Podcast episodes over the past few months. In these episodes we explore the science behind whether our cats love us, we talk with Trisha Seifried, a professional cat trainer who has trained cats for commercials and films, we talk to Tabitha Kucera, the owner of Chirrups and Chatter Cat and Dog behavior consulting, and we discuss Peak Purrformance, a certification and titling body for cats. If you enjoy the episodes remember to subscribe to us on YouTube.
We are also happy to announce that the Cat Writers’ Association awarded us a Certificate of Excellence and the Muse Medallion Award for winning entry in the Audio/Broadcast category in the 2019 Communication Contest. Interested in listening to the winning episode? Check out CatSci Ep. 2: Everyday Enrichment, Spice Up Your Cat’s Life.
List of Recent CatSci Podcast Episodes:
Do you love science and cats? Audible recently released my Audible Original, Decoding Cats: Inside the Feline Mind. This is a series of 10, ~30 minute lectures in which I discuss cat evolution and domestication, kitten development, cat behavior, cat cognition, cat socialization, cat training, and the cat-human relationship. Interested? Click here to learn more about the series!
Decoding Cats: Inside the Feline Mind
By: Kristyn Vitale, PhD & The Great Courses
Narrated by: Kristyn Vitale
Publisher: Audible Originals
I was recently interviewed by Science about a fascinating new study published this month in the journal Animal Cognition. The study demonstrated that a pet cat was capable of reproducing the actions of their human owner. The cat was trained using the Do as I Do (DAID) training method to repeat behaviors that their owner demonstrated. During the training, the cat learns that if the owner does an action and then says “Do it!” the cat should copy the behavior the owner displayed. So if the owner spins and says “Do it!” the cat should spin as well.
After the DAID training was complete, the cat underwent trials to see if they could mimic their owner’s behaviors toward a box. The owner either touched the box with her hand or rubbed the box with her face. Interestingly, the cat matched the behavior of the owner on 13 out of 16 trials (81%). This provides support that cats have the capacity to mentally represent the body parts and movements of their owner, relate those to their own body, and copy the behavior that was demonstrated. A video of the study’s methods can be viewed here!
Only 1 pet cat was included in this study and this cat already had considerable training experience with their owner. Future research can build off this study to further clarify if the cat’s life experiences, such as socialization to humans, may impact their ability to mimic human behavior. Until then, you can observe your own cat and try to decipher if they watch and copy you.
Kristyn Vitale, PhD
Did we find a copycat? Do as I Do in a domestic cat. Fugazza, C., Sommese, A., Miklósi, A. (2020). Animal Cognition. Read the full study here!
Kitty see, kitty do: cat imitates human, in first scientific demonstration of behavior. Grimm, D. (Sep. 25, 2020). Science. Link to full article here!
The event has ended but can be viewed here.
Join us this Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 6:30 pm (Pacific time) for the second virtual Science Pub from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry!
From OMSI: Pour a pint (at home!) and follow along as Dr. Kristyn Vitale discusses the purr-suasive science behind cat social cognition, how outdoor cats live socially in colonies, and how to improve communication with your cat in a way that allows it to engage in natural cat behaviors.
How to Tune in?
Tuesday April 7, 2020 | 6:30-8:30 pm (Pacific time) | $5 Suggested Donation (https://omsisciencepub.square.site/)
Go to OMSI’s main facebook page at 6:15 pm. Found at: https://www.facebook.com/omsi.museum/
You DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to watch the live stream
If you are unable to join us on Facebook Live, the video will be posted to OMSI’s Facebook Videos the following day.
Each event will begin with our 10 question trivia game. Grab a pencil and paper and compete against your family!
We will also host Q&A after the lecture. In order to ask a question, all you have to do is comment on Facebook.
The Science of Cat Social Lives: Improving Cat-Human Relationships with Kristyn Vitale, PhD, Instructor and Researcher in the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University
Millions of humans worldwide share their homes with cats. Despite the popularity of companion cats in our homes, relatively little scientific research has been conducted on cat behavior or the human-cat relationship. The lack of research in this field may in part stem from common stereotypes that cats are unsocial or untrainable. Yet, the science that does exist indicates cats have rich and complex social lives with both other cats and humans.
In this talk, Dr. Kristyn Vitale of the Oregon State University Human-Animal Interaction Lab will discuss the current science behind cat social cognition. She will explore the behavior of outdoor cats living socially in colonies as well as the socio-cognitive abilities of pet cats including their ability to respond to human behavior or bond with their owners. She will also describe how to improve communication with your cat through training and enrichment opportunities that allow cats to engage in natural behaviors.