Cat's Cradle

The current issue of Discovery News introduces us to a pre-print of a paper by Kotrschal et al of U Vienna describing the social interaction between people and their cats. Note that I report it was done with their cats, and not their neighbor’s cats who bury little messages in your newly planted seedbed or regard your new bird table as their personal fast food take away outlet. There were 41 cats taking part that consented to their owners being involved and the depth and nature of their bonding being discussed.

Because food is more than just mere material for sustenance, but also has a role in showing affection the, cat-owner interactions took on a similar character to those of a preverbal baby-parent response. The study then showed that the cats tended to choose the female human over the male because they were more readily manipulated and more responsive. Of course this is not a one-way street, the cats show their gratitude by allotting more petting time to the women. Its not that men were excluded, but just that the cats have sussed out who is more likely to go to the refrigerator and pull out cat food rather than a beer. We men clearly have to get more in touch with our feminine side if we’re going to be considered for promotion in the petting order.

The alignment of goals and objectives is strongest between young active cats who are lucky enough to manage extroverted women. Here a simple flick of an upright tail can illicit the correct response whether it is opening the door to the garden, opening the door to the 'fridge or providing a lap for a nap. Tomorrow morning, when I go to the gym, I will make sure that when my personal trainer tells me to do twenty press-ups to warm up, I will be able to explain to her that I’ve been excused such hard effort and give her a note from my cat to confirm.

One Response so far.

  1. jazgal says:

    We all know who's in charge, and it isn't us! Meow!

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