biology

Do you know all the stars in the comet?

The domestic cat ( Felis silvestris catus) has been coexisting with humans for thousands of years. They may dominate the street, or be served by cat food, canned fish and shovel. However, compared with other human partners, Canis lupus familiaris , there are few studies on the cognitive ability of domestic cats.

What is this? It is important to know that the research on the cognitive ability of domestic cats not only has very important scientific value, but also is very important in guiding the management and animal welfare work of pet cats and free cats. Falling into the individual, this knowledge can also allow the shovel officer to increase the theoretical reserve and put it into practice to please the master. What do scientists have to do!


What? Don’t look at me, I am engaged in theoretical physics. But you see how cute the cat is . Image source: bigbangtheory.wikia.com

Of course, scientists are not idle. In recent years, they have become more and more interested in the domestic cat’s cognition (in fact, I guess most researchers like cats, it is a serious matter to accompany the master, the experiment is secondary), and the related research is slow. Slow accumulation has been a lot. As for the embarrassing people in the brain, we have gradually explored some clues:

Cat is a cat: I is such a master

Researchers are always fond of cats, and most of the research is centered around the cat’s sense of smell, sight, hearing, and skin (including tentacles). These sensory abilities ensure that the “night owls” can wander and explore around in low light conditions and short-sighted situations. It can be said that they shape the typical image of a cat.


Human, what do you want to know from me? Image source: Dawang’s oil cat cake

The little serval cat smells the fish and ran to the scene at the kitchen door. The shovel officers are certainly not strangers. In fact, since the birth of the cat, the importance of smell has traversed the entire cat. It is important for maintaining the relationship between female cats and young children, for identifying different individuals, for determining the range of homes, and for the relationship between humans and cats. Relatively speaking, the development of hearing and vision is much slower. It takes about 11 to 16 days after the birth of the kitten to produce hearing, and 16 to 21 days to produce vision.

The cat’s eye is always so fascinating, but the world that can be seen through the cat’s eye is not a natural generation. As early as 1970, Colin Blakemore and Cooper did a classic experiment: they put kittens from 3 weeks to 3 months old in a dark environment, and they were Transfer to a bright environment – a cylindrical cage with inner walls with only horizontal (or vertical) lines. Later, when they came into contact with the natural environment, the cat could not detect the vertical (or horizontal) lines. Other studies have found that kittens that grow in a specific experimental environment may be affected by visual stimuli and ability to distinguish learning, visual associative learning, and auditory responsiveness. These studies suggest that early harsh living conditions can affect the ability of cats to acquire the day after tomorrow.


The visual perception of kittens from 3 weeks to 3 months old is affected by the living environment. At this stage, only the horizontal (or vertical) lines of the kittens can not detect the missing direction, that is, vertical when they are exposed to the natural environment. Or horizontal) lines of direction. Image source: Colin Blakemore

In addition to sensory-related research, the researchers used a variety of experiments to measure the cat’s other cognitive abilities—objective permanence is one of them. Imagine a piece of food being buckled by a box. Your line of sight is blocked by the box and you can’t see the food directly, but you know that the food is still there. This is called “object permanent.” Human babies have to be 18-24 months old to fully understand this. Adults can quickly find food when an obstacle is placed in front of the cat’s last time to see the food. To better understand the permanent nature of the cat’s object, the researchers also tested the duration of their working memory by letting the cat delay looking for the food to be taken away . In the case of two choices, the cat’s working memory can reach 30 seconds or even 60 seconds, but the memory drops rapidly within 30 seconds after the object is taken away. In contrast, the cat’s long-term memory is amazing – the visual matching and non-matching delays for objects can be as long as 10 minutes.

This is not awkward. A 2009 study confirmed for the first time that domestic cats have the ability to discriminate: they can distinguish three dots by visually distinguishing groups. This mechanism of numeracy is still unclear, but with this ability, cats may gain an advantage in getting the most food.

However, in more “esoteric” things, the understanding of things by the comets is not so great. In 2009, a group of researchers used the traction rope test to understand the extent to which the comets understood the physical causality: they tied food to the end of a short rope and trained the cat to get food by pulling the rope. This can’t help them. But in the face of a slightly complicated situation (a long rope, two parallel ropes, two crossed ropes), the masters are stupid and can’t tell which rope can get the food. This shows that the cat does not understand the causal relationship between the rope and the food. The comet always loves to pull all kinds of things with their claws, and it doesn’t break. I guess there is no such thing as “very serious consequences” in their dictionary, who cares!


Something broke after a minute. Blame me? I don’t understand . Image source: Dawang’s oil cat cake

With people: cats are very attached to you

Most cats are used to living alone, and only lions and cheetahs are usually inhabited. The cat looks like a pair of cold, arrogant, and sleek, so many people think that they are also “lone-lover” and difficult to access. But in fact, their sociality is able to survive, and the formation of their social groups depends on food, shelter and partners. Studies have shown that in the sensitive period of the 2nd to 7th week after the birth of the kitten, the longer it is in contact with humans and the longer it is touched, the more the cat will become more gentle and more willing to be close to humans. Young cats that have been socialized are more likely to establish emotional connections with humans.


Why don’t you rua me, you said. Image source: hair ball controlled hair ball

Cats are very sensitive to human cues, follow human gestures and quiet gaze – and the cat’s gaze to people is enough to conquer most of the Blue Stars watching them. They are also well aware of the emotions of the shovel officers. A 2015 study found that cats can judge the state of human emotions and emotions under the stimulation of fan ribbons, and then carefully react to themselves. Experiments have shown that when there is an external stimulus, the cat will look at the owner and feel the master’s emotional changes. When you are afraid, in an unknown environment, or want to get the attention of your host, you will even take the initiative to let go of your body to be friendly and close to human beings. These results suggest that cat behavior is affected by human emotions. Among them, cats are more sensitive to human depression. Therefore, the shovel officers are still happy, and the master knows.


Don’t be unhappy with the shovel. Image source: Dawang’s oil cat cake

Why do seemingly cold cats actually be so understanding? Because of the non-verbal communication mechanisms of emotional state and gaze behavior, it is easier for cats to obtain survival resources from the hands of shovel officers—food, shelter, and attention (there are some things in the heart!), these behaviors are for the inter-species society. The evolution of behavior and relationships is important.

what? I am so good about it, just to get these? Don’t be sad, your cat still loves you very much. In 2013, researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan played five human voices to cats. When the owner’s voice is heard, the cat’s ears, head, tail, pupil, displacement and vocal are different from those of the stranger, suggesting that the cat can distinguish between the owner and the stranger by voice.


Hey, I know who is who, by listening to the sound. Image source: hair ball controlled hair ball

Another study set up a strange situation test to test the attachment relationship between the cat and the owner. Scientists have found that when they are alone with their owners or strangers, the behavior of cats can be significantly different: in experiments, cats never communicate with strangers and do not follow; but they have more contact and communication with the owner and follow-up behavior. . When staying alone with strangers in the house, cats prefer to play at the door and always be vigilant. These results all indicate that the cat has an attachment behavior and has a strong attachment relationship with the owner. For this reason, cats undergo a series of changes in their physiology and psychology after being separated from their masters . They may even have separation anxiety syndrome (SAS), which shows abnormal urination, excessive vocalization and destructive behavior. .

Currently, there are more than 600 million domesticated comets in the world. According to the 2014 survey data of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the number of domestically-only pet cats in the United States has reached 96 million, which is 10 million more than domestic pet dogs. These cats have different personality traits due to factors such as genes, early experiences, and contact with people. A 2014 study suggested that when the kitten was 5-6 days old (to avoid interfering with the relationship between the early cat mother and the pup, the cat was not used for experiments 5 days ago), there was already a difference in personality. By 3-4 weeks, the personality is already obvious and gradually fixed. Understanding the cat ‘s personality can help us provide them with a better living environment and make them live a life of both physical and psychological satisfaction.

In the end, like humans, the cognitive ability of cats will eventually decay. Irreversible loss of brain cells and brain atrophy lead to a decline in age-related cognitive abilities, namely cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Infected cat immunodeficiency virus also affects the cognitive ability of comets. With the improvement of nutritional conditions, the life span of the comet is longer than before, and the elderly population is increasing. Although CDS is currently difficult to diagnose and treat, early prevention can be done by using dietary supplements. With the growing research on cat cognitive ability, I believe we can better build a better partnership with cats.

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