A study on cats in Japan suggests that domestic felines understand the concepts of cause and effect and gravity.
Fluffy always looks like she's up to something, meticulously planning her next move. Now science suggests this could actually be the case.
Thirty felines at Kyoto University were videotaped responding to a box with a hole, an electromagnet and magnetic balls inside. The study was linked to sound. When the scientists shook the box of balls in front of the cats, it made a noise. Next, they turned the box on its side and the balls fell out through the hole.
But when the electromagnet was switched on after the rattling, the balls did not exit the chamber. Conversely, the electromagnet was also turned on during the shaking phase but turned off when the box was flipped over, allowing the balls to exit. These scenarios presented what the research team considered an "incongruent setup."
If sound determines the presence of an object in a box, then, in a blind study, that would need to be a precursor to a ball falling out, a conclusion reached by the Principle of Causality--cause and effect.
By investigating extensively when a noise was made and also showing increased interest in the box during the incongruent phases, researchers concluded that cats have an intelligence level that includes some degree of both cause and effect and gravity. In other words, kittens are baby Einsteins.
It's probably a good thing cats understand gravity considering their acrobatic jumping skills. Could this offer an additional explanation for how cats routinely manage to land on their feet?
The researchers theorized that cause and effect could be employed while hunting. Auditory stimuli could be utilized as a hunting skill to infer the presence of prey. In the absence of noise cues, a stalking feline might be out of luck.
But science has recently suggested domestication might be erasing the hunting gene in cats. Is the feline knowledge of cause and effect linked to their hunting skills?
All images via Stacey Venzel