5 of 5
5
Cat Religions vs. Monkey Religions
Posted: 12 May 2008 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Advocatus,

Mirror self-recognition studies have been done in great detail on lots of species. The classic design is to surreptitiously place some sort of mark on the subject. Those that look at the image in the mirror while touching or otherwise exploring the mark on their own bodies are presumed to recognize the reflection as a representation of their own body, those that ignore the mark and interact only with the image are presumed not to make the connection. Clearly, a mirror image lacks many salient stimuli that a live animal would provide, so it may very well not be reacted to like a live present conspecific would be, but this isn’t really useful in terms of determining whether the subject perceives the reflection as them.

Of course, part of science is designing experiments to prove objectively what seems blindingly obviously when assessed informally. I’ve done a lot of mirror work with chimps, and watching them systematically clean their teeth or paint their behind using the mirror as an aid, I have no doubt they seem the reflection just as we do. And I also don’t think it’s at all likely that cats, or most other species of mammals, make the connection at all, based on how they interact with reflective surfaces.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 May 2008 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24

I don’t think that cats (domestic at least) are actually all that intelligent and my case (not really evidence as such) for that is the way they behave when basic needs are fulfilled.

When a cat is fed, comfortable and out of danger it seems to me it will tend to just purr & go to sleep (although it’s possible that Eddie Izzard is right and they are actually behind the sofa drilling). When a dog is fed, warm and out of danger it will, as often as not, be looking around for things to do. To my mind that seems to be “evidence” that the dog is a more intelligent animal.

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 12 May 2008 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

There is something to be said for not looking for something to get into and staying out of trouble.

Now I really don’t believe dog are smarter than cats.  It is at most equal.  Amber has never had kittens due to being spaded.  Scarlette is the same, even though she is part persian (landlord at the time insisted if I wanted to have cats.  So, they were spaded as early as possible.  We got Shiva when she was six weeks.  Scarlette did not take to mothering her and has never liked her.  Amber on the other hand took to her after about a week and started to mother Shiva.  Regardless if I was asking for their help to raise her, Amber seemed smart enough to know that this new baby in the family also needed a cat mother touch besides a human mother touch.  She could not nurse Shiva, but she did bathe her, cuddled with her, and occassionally disciplined (not beat up like Scarlette did) her.  I don’t think Amber’s motherly behaviour, when she has never been a mother, was all instinct, esp when Scarlette continued to be aggressive to Shiva and still after two years has not accepted her much.  Amber still mothers Shiva sometimes.  Either Scarlette is not into the social habits of cats or there is something in the personalities or Amber is just one who knows when a baby needs some help.

Granted some females dogs do the same thing- probably spaded ones like Amber too, so the intelligence level might not be that much different.

[ Edited: 12 May 2008 03:57 PM by Mriana ]
 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 May 2008 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  908
Joined  2005-01-14

I wasn’t claiming that Apollo recognized himself.  But he has had experience with shadows, vague reflections in my gold-fish pond and so forth.  It was obvious to me that even though this was an exact reflection, he recognized it as pretty much the same thing, that is NOT another cat that he had to watch out for.

As far Kyuuketsuki’s observations go, my cats definitely DO show curiousity about their environment and run around doing things (more so than the dogs in my experience, which just seem to run around blindly). Cats sleep when there is nothing else for them to do.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 May 2008 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Cats sleep when there is nothing else for them to do.

See, I have to say I think this is a projection of our attitudes onto them. When not fed by people cats, like many predators, find meals sporadically. Feral cats have been studied, and then generally sleep 20 hours a day, engage in a couple of hunting bouts per day, are successful maybe 80% of the time, and catch low calorie prey like mice and birds. They are “designed” by natural selection to feed seldom and spend as few calries as possible. So sleeping all the time is an energetic adaptation, not just a reaction to lack of something interesting to do. Koalas, though very different animals, also face severe calorie limitations in nature (since they specialize in a very poor quality food source that requires extensive metabolic processing), and they sleep all the time too. Canids in the wild (not domestic dogs) also sleep and rest a lot, but they are social predators and they tend to engage in a lot more social behavior. They are also pursuit predators, actively looking for and hunting down their food, whereas cats are sit and wait predators, taking prey more opportunistically and by stealth rather than search and run down. Thus, the relative differences in activity budget are correlated with, and likely a reflection of, different evolved strategies for finding food.

I’m not saying these explanations are complete or absolutely accurate, but I’m just trying to point out that behavior makes a lot more sense in a context. If we ignore evolutionary factors, we tend to see the behavior from our own point of view and project our own feelings onto it. If we look for objective determinants of behavior, we may not be any closer to what it subjectively feels like to be a cat or a dog, but we are less inclined to judge what they do by our standards and waste a lot of time deciding whose “smarter” and “lazier” and so on.

[ Edited: 14 May 2008 02:46 PM by mckenzievmd ]
 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 May 2008 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29

That was interesting, Brennen. I like it when I unexpectedly learn new things. Thanks.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 May 2008 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

As a cat lover, I’ve known that my cats don’t sleep out of boredom.  I do know they love it when I take a nap though. They curl up next to me for a nap too.  While I know they love to cuddle with me, I’m thinking it is also a social thing among cats concerning sleep, almost like grooming, because they cuddle with each other to take naps too. While they can’t groom a human, they can cuddle during naptimes or bedtime even.  I have one cat on each side and one at my feet- the youngest who’s 2 y.o.  She can’t get a way with sleeping at my side or near my head without a cat fight, because the other two (both 8 y.o.) claim each side of me.  Seems like a social pecking order to me, even though they know it upsets me when they fight “over me”. Either that, or the positions are dictated to keep me from getting annoyed with them.  This last seems less logical given what I know about wild cats.

I’ve also wondered about this so called “TV watching”.  While I’ve heard vets say that having a TV on while we are at work all day helps pets, I don’t think they are really watching the TV itself (even if we are at home watching “with them”), but rather attracted by the movements on the TV- esp cats.  The more rapid the movement, the more a cat might appear to be watching TV, but I seriously doubt it is the program they are paying attention to because it is movement that attracts them in the wild (or if they are feral). This movement means potential food. However, I don’t think cats and dogs are dumb enough to think that movement on TV is potential food, but the movement attracting their attention.  I seriously doubt they are seeing and/or thinking what we are, but if they know it’s not food, why are they watching so intently?  It just catches their attention for some reason?

Thoughts Brennon?

One last question, which I probably should bring up with our vet.  We’ve had Shiva since she was six weeks old.  The older of the two 8 y.o., both spaded and never had kittens, took to her like a mother cat, minus nursing, after about a week. After two years, the younger of the 8 y.o., Scarlette, still doesn’t tolerate much of “the baby”, not even when Shiva wants to play.  If she tries to knock the crap out of “the baby”, Amber (the motherly one) let’s her have it like a mother cat protecting her young.  It gets horribly vicious between Amber and Scarlette when Shiva is involved and Shiva just watches as Scarlette is cornered and gives what I call “the death threat” hiss to Amber who has her cornered.  Personalities?  The good thing is, I leave the house and they are all three alive when I get home.  They don’t kill each other while I’m gone.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 May 2008 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Mriana,

Domestic cats area bit of a feline oddity. Though not nearly as sociable as lions, they are apparently more social than most other feline species when left to their own devices. Feral cat colonies have been stgudied a great deal, and there are some particularly interesting papers about one centered on a market in Italy, where they foraged for food but were not deliberately fed. They did seem to have some rudimentary hierarchies when it came to order of access to food, and the males seemed to have soem rough territories theyd efended with respect to females in heat. Generally, though, unless forced to congregate around a limited food source, the cats spent a lot more time alone than the typical house cat.

It is well-established that if there are three or more cats in a household, almost 90% of the time someone will urinate outside the litterbox or there will be other signs of social tension. It seems that cats haven’t had very long to adapt, evolutionarily speaking, to the population densities we force on them now that we commonly keep several in the same household, often even strictly indoors all the time. Cats haven’t evloved as many behavioral strategies for dealing with conflicts withing group meembers as canids or primates have simply because they don’t naturally congregate in the wild (lions, again, being a notable exception).

It sounds like you have fairly typical “issues” that come with having 3 cats in the house. There’s no simple or perfect answer. Letting them go outside may solve some of the social issues (or it may not) but comes at the really high price of risking feline leukemia and FIV infection, wounds from fights with outdoor cats, and death from predators and cars, so I don’t recommend it. Some people try Feliway, wich is a synthetic cat pheromone you can spray around the house. Supposed to relax them, but I think it’s a bit of voodoo. Making sure you have enough spearate food sources and liiter boxes so they can choose not to interact when they don’t want to is also helpful.


As for TV, my understanding is that dogs and cats have mucch faster processing of visual impulses, necessary for detection of quick movements when hunting. As a result, they would probably see television as a series of still pictures, like a slideshow, rather than a moving picture (which we only see because the individual frames are displayed faster than the temporal resolution of our retinas, which is much lower than that of dogs and cats). Of course, there is also the fact that they likely wouldn’t have meanigful associations with most of the images even if they could see them as we do. Likely, the tv actvates their orienting reflex, the reflex that makes you turn and look at a sudden flicker of movement in the corner of your eye. And, also they can certainly hear the audible part of programs and may react to familiar sounds. My dogs, FWIW, generally ignore the TV, but will react to the sound of dogs on it and orient to the soudn so that they appear to be watching.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 May 2008 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02
mckenzievmd - 15 May 2008 09:53 AM

It is well-established that if there are three or more cats in a household, almost 90% of the time someone will urinate outside the litterbox or there will be other signs of social tension. It seems that cats haven’t had very long to adapt, evolutionarily speaking, to the population densities we force on them now that we commonly keep several in the same household, often even strictly indoors all the time. Cats haven’t evloved as many behavioral strategies for dealing with conflicts withing group meembers as canids or primates have simply because they don’t naturally congregate in the wild (lions, again, being a notable exception).

Oh yes.  Scarlette, again.  I have thought about going back to at least two litter boxes because of it.  She is the most neurotic cat I’ve ever seen, if cats can have mental illnesses.  I know they can have behavioural problems and she would make a great study for “cat psychology”.  However, I am not about to let any of them become indoor/outdoor cats.  The risk is too great, esp since Scarlette is 1/2 Persian, Amber is mistaken for a Bangel, and Shiva is 1/2 Siamese, as well as un-spaded because I want to breed her with another blue-eyed Siamese or Tonk.  Two years without an accidental pregnancy and I’m not about to have it ruined by that black feral tom outside, who probably has FIV.  The ugly skinny mut isn’t about to touch my girl, if I can help it.  I want to chose her tom.  (My sons say that sounds like a racist comment, but please do keep in mind I am talking about cats.)  So, there are many risks factors against letting my girls go outside.  Shiva, a blue-eyed, white cat, with a chocolate marking around one eye, and obvious exotic features of the siamese variety, is too valuable to let run lose, as well as my other girls.  With the right tom, her kittens could bring me a small bit of income, even if it is just the cost of feeding and care.  Scarlette was only spaded due to the rules of the landlord we had at the time or I would have found another Persian, or some other long-haired exotic cat to avoid the many resporitory issues Persians can have, to breed her with.  BTW, the mix didn’t help her avoid resporitory issues, like I had hoped, just gave her a less flat face.  :(  So much for experiments.  rolleyes

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 May 2008 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  908
Joined  2005-01-14
mckenzievmd - 14 May 2008 09:57 AM

See, I have to say I think this is a projection of our attitudes onto them. When not fed by people cats, like many predators, find meals sporadically….and so forth.

Yes sir, I was aware of many of the things you brought up, but I was trying to keep it simple.  I could also talk about how cats are hunters by stealth, meaning they are most active early in the morning and late in the evening (just before sundown), which coincidentally happen to be the times when human beings tend to be too busy with their own lives.

Yes, I do realize there’s a danger involved in anthropomorphizing, and No, I don’t want to get into an argument about whether cats or dogs are smarter or lazier!

Just one more anecdote about my babies…  Last January, when I was taking down the solstice lights from the roof of my house, Parvati and Shiva learned to climb the ladder just by watching me do it once.  I leave the ladder against the wall of my garden shed, and even now Parvati will often climb up the ladder to the roof, for no reason I can see other than she enjoys doing it.  She climbs up there, runs around the roof, then climbs back down.  Shiva only climbs it when I need to for some reason, apparently because he likes to keep me company.  Okay, I’ll shut up now.  smile

Profile
 
 
   
5 of 5
5