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A journey into the fascinating world of cats in the company of science

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.
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Let’s enter the incredible world of cats and try to get to know it better and dispel some myths. To do this, science will help us.

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special A journey into the fascinating world of cats in the company of science

 

In this article we delve into the incredible and vast world of cats. These animals, agile and fast, as well as highly efficient predators, gifted by nature with lethal weapons, are increasingly entering our lives. However, cats have always been seen as solitary animals, extremely opportunistic, not very inclined to play especially when compared to dogs.
Lot of funny memes on cats they portray them as diabolically intelligent beings who use, when they are not sleeping, all the time available to try to eliminate their human masters and try to conquer the world. However, the truth is very different and even if these little furry creatures can appear at times detached and independent, in truth they too they become attached to their owners humans no less than dogs.

Sure, they may not share the excessive exuberance of their canine roommates but they are no less attached to them. After all, the domestication of the cat began thousands of years ago and man has lived with these cats and evolved with them in a continuous profitable exchange for both species. What we will try to do with this article is to try to understand some cat behaviors and dispel or confirm some myths concerning these cats using, as a compass, science.

A story that dates back to ancient times

The domestication of the cat may have occurred between the 7500 and 7000 years before Christ in Mesopotamia, in the so-called Fertile Crescent, and the agreement between felines and man was born because the interests of both converged. With the birth of agriculture, in fact, the crops were prey to mice and rats who feasted on them. The concentration of mice in human habitats obviously attracted the first wild felines. So cats and humans have formed their first relationship of mutual aid: cats fed on the mice that devoured the crops, and humans not only had their food safe, but the decrease in mice preserved them from the diseases these animals carried with them.

But it is certainly with the ancient Egyptian culture that the cat even acquires a divine connotation. Already in 2000 BC there is evidence of mummified cats inside the tombs and, as if that were not enough, two famous deities were depicted as cats. We are talking about the goddess Bastet and of goddess Sekhmet. But while the second was represented with the appearance of big cats such as lions, symbolized violence and was a terrible deity, Bastet was instead represented with the appearance of a cat and was seen in a more positive way. Just as cats are protective of their kittens, so the goddess Bastet was a deity benevolent and protective, a loving mother just like cat moms constantly take care of their young.

They are certainly not afraid of falling

Those who live with a cat at home know this well: cats love high places. These animals often climb in places that we consider inaccessible and often put themselves in danger just to reach a shelf or a shelf placed high where, perhaps, they can rest.
But why are cats so attracted to heights? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most important is the one that sees them as creatures extremely curious. Exploring a place high up, perhaps never observed before, is a drive to which they can hardly say no. Not to mention that from above you can have control and also a certain discretion because these agile quadrupeds do not always like to feel the center of attention, in fact sometimes they love to be on their own and what better places to rest peacefully than those in high, places that are difficult to reach and far from home noise?
To seek refuge above may also be a need dictated by some needs of the animal. For example, if our cat is scared of something or is in one stressful situation, in an elevated place he feels safe because he knows that there his predators bigger than him will hardly be able to reach him or annoy him. But let’s also remember that the warm air rises upwards and whoever has a cat at home knows it well: these sweet creatures are always looking for warm places where you can rest. Here, therefore, it is important for these animals to have a place high up where they can be in peace, disconnect for a moment from the world around them but that is, at the same time, safe and comfortable.

Felines and owners

The cat has always been seen as a pet extremely lonely. A divinity who is only waiting to be served and revered and who can tolerate human beings only because they feed them and clean their litter. The truth is quite different: our feline friends are no less attached to their owners than dogs, but while fido is definitely more expansive in demonstrating his attachment, cats are more reserved but no less loving.
To reveal the attachment of cats to their owners comes a study ofUniversity of Oregon, published in the journal Current Biology. To demonstrate the attachment of cats to their owners they were observed 79 kittens and 38 adult cats. The animals and their owners were placed inside an unfamiliar room and it was observed that the animals who had the most harmony and trust towards their human owners were also those who first overcame the fear and bewilderment of being in an environment. new. After all, it also seems that our little furry friends can recognize their name.

This time the research was developed by scientists from a Japanese university and the study was published on Nature. In this research it is stated that not only have cats developed a form of communication with us through meowing (wild cats, for example, do not meow until before weaning), but also that they know recognize their name.

For the study, domestic cats and cats living inside the now famous were taken neko coffee. The study found that domestic cats recognized their name even if it was pronounced by a stranger (accuracy decreased if words similar to the pet’s name were uttered). Different as regards the cats in the neko cafes who, on the other hand, managed to distinguish names from other words, but reacted in the same way with the name of other cats.
It was as if these cats had all names in common. Cats therefore understand that we use certain and precise words when we address them. This ability was developed because responding when called means having cuddles or food, a reward then.

Can we train a cat?

In light of all this, therefore, it is legitimate to ask whether it is possible to train a cat like a dog to perform, that is, small and simple tasks in exchange for a reward. Well, even at this juncture science comes to our aid. An article published in the magazine Animal Cognition examines the story of Edisu, an 11-year-old kitten who managed to memorize and imitate some simple gestures made by his owner.
The technique with which Edisu was trained is defined “Do As I Do” and requires the trainer to associate a verbal command with a gesture or movement that the animal imitates to perfection. As often happens, the animal is gratified, after imitating the gesture, with food of which it is particularly greedy. The feline was like that trained for 4 months and, at the end of this training period, he was subjected to 18 tests in which he had to demonstrate that he was able to imitate the gestures of the owner.
The tests involved touching certain objects, opening drawers, standing on the hind legs, also lifting the front ones or nibbling on threads. Edisu’s success rate is very high, with81% successes . The sample analyzed by the research is extremely small, it is true, and further studies are needed, but little Edisu is a furry pioneer who could prove that even cats can be trained no less than dogs.

The secret language of our cat

Anyone who has a cat at home has now learned to recognize and understand the signs that these cute creatures adopt to make themselves understood by us. So if a cat walks around the house with an “exclamation mark” tail perhaps it means that he wants to be pampered and considered, if he moves it quickly and in an angry way it means that he does not want to be annoyed and that he is nervous, or even if he does purr is very well. However, can we be able to send a signal to the cat? Can we somehow use his own attitude to make him understand something? Moreover, among themselves these animals, to make their intentions understood, use the signal of certain parts of the body such as, for example, the tail or ears. And here, too, in this case, science gives us some answers.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports A very particular gesture has been analyzed that all cat owners know: blinking of the eyes. In fact, when the animal is calm and peaceful, curled up on the bed or in his favorite armchair, he slowly closes and reopens his eyelids.
If we want to filter this gesture with a human meaning we can say that the animal is as if it were smiling. We too can respond to this simple gesture with the possibility of instilling a sense of tranquility, well-being and trust in the animal.

As an experiment, the scientists took a sample of 21 cats coming from 14 families and they were subjected to two tests. In the first experiment, when the cat lay down on a sofa, the owner had to position himself at one meter from the animal and catch his eye. It was found that when the owner slowly closed his eyelids, the cat also responded to the gesture, more often than when the owner stood in front of him without blinking.

In the second experiment the 21 cats met not their owners but people unrelated to them. The latter had to blink as in the first experiment and, as a control, other individuals unrelated to the animal did not blink. Well, cats tended to trust people who winked more than people who didn’t.
Here’s how a simple gesture like closing your eyes slowly in front of our cats could be a great way to instill confidence and tranquility, a way to speak their own “language” for a moment.

And here ends our journey into the incredible world of domestic cats. Of course, there is still a lot to know about these incredible creatures with whom we have shared, and are continuing to share, the path of evolution.
We have seen how apparently these animals appear detached and independent, and in part it is true, but it is also true that, under this veil, these special creatures are no less affectionate than dogs, they just demonstrate it in a different way, a whole way. them but no less intense.

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