What We Understand about Cats and What They Understand about Us

New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 30, 2016
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A big part of cats’ lives are spent around their human owners, yet scientists are just starting to understand what they think of us

 

stoshpetIn my last post I introduced the topic of cat cognition and what we broadly know about how these animals think. In this post I’m going to talk more specifically about what we understand about cats’ interactions with the animal they spend most time with: us….

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What’s Going On in Your Cat’s Head?

New Media Mention: Felicity Muth, Scientific American March 29, 2016
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Cats are often depicted as being less friendly, cooperative and caring than dogs, but what’s really going on in your cat’s head?

Spirit meet cameraUnsurprisingly, scientists use dogs in behavioural experiments a lot more often than cats. There are whole ‘canine cognition’ lab groups and conferences, which has led to a much greater understanding of our canine friends (see for example the blog ‘Dog Spies’). Cats are generally less cooperative and more nervous in social situations, meaning it’s difficult to use them in experiments. However, a recent paper in Animal Cognition by Shreve & Udell at Oregon State University reviewed what we do know about our (sometimes unfriendly) friends regarding how they think. I’m going to divide what we know about cat cognition into two main areas over two posts: firstly, what we know about cat cognition per se and secondly cat cognition that relates to their relationship with humans…..

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