New Podcast Interview: Feline Behavior Myth Busting

I was recently featured on the Morris Animal Foundation Fresh Scoop Podcast. Listen as we discuss feline behavior and myths surrounding cat sociability and training. Full podcast and transcript available here! 

CatSci Podcast Updates

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:

CatSci Ep 6: Does Your Cat Love You?
CatSci Ep. 7: Trisha Seifried, Seeing the Pet-ential in Cats
CatSci Ep. 8: Tabitha Kucera, Fear Free & Fun
CatSci Ep. 9: Peak Purrformance, The Official Certifying Body for Cats

Decoding Cats Audible Original

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

Can Your Cat Copy You?

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

Sources:

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!

Free Event! Kitten Socialization Quarantine Quintessentials

The event has ended but it can be viewed here!

Upcoming free event! Join us  this Friday May 22 at 8pm Eastern Time (5pm Pacific) for a free webinar in which we will discuss kitten socialization essentials to consider while in quarantine. The webinar costs nothing to attend, but please visit this website to register.

Presented by: 
Kristyn Vitale, PhD of maueyes Cat Science & Training
Tabitha Kucera, Elite Fear Free and Low Stress Handling Certified RVT, CCBC, KPA-CTP of Chirrups & Chatter Behavior Solutions