Don't hurt my felines

November 24, 2016 22:51

I had intended to post something about Iran today but I’ve just seen that the most viewed article on the Guardian’s website – ahead of Iran’s post-election unrest – is “Cats outsmarted in psychologist’s test”. While the psychologist doesn’t explicitly suggest that cats are stupid, she does say they do not understand cause-and-effect connections between objects. As a cat owner, I can’t let this pass without comment. Simply put, this contention hurts my felines.

According to the article, psychology lecturer Britta Osthaus tested the thought processes of 15 cats by attaching fish and biscuit treats to one end of a piece of string, placing them under a plastic screen to make them unreachable and then seeing if the cats could work out that pulling on the other end of the string would pull the treat closer.
“They were tested in three ways, using a single baited string, two parallel strings where only one was baited, and two crossed strings where only one was baited. The single string test proved no problem, but unlike dogs (which Osthaus has previously tested) no cat consistently chose correctly between two parallel strings. With two crossed strings, one cat always made the wrong choice and others succeeded no more than might be expected by chance.”
Here’s the link to the full article:

Britta Osthaus should meet Chloe, my tubby tabby, whose “thought processes” function sufficiently well for her to have worked out that if she opens the door under the sink (which she does with her paw), she will often find something discarded in the dustbin to suit her discerning palate.

Judging by the large number of comments posted on the Guardian website, I see I’m not the only one given pause for thought - the article has really made the fur fly.

November 24, 2016 22:51

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