Monday, June 1, 2009

cat smartz

happy monday, everyone! hope you have your thinking caps on because reading this interesting article from new scientist on the topic of cat intelligence got our fur a little ruffled. after testing cats abilities to manipulate a string with a treat tied to one end against their ability to discern between two strings, one with a treat and one without, they come to the conclusion that "cats couldn't infer cause-and-effect relationships between two objects and could only learn an association from scratch each time." well we're not scientists, and our high school knowledge of the scientific method may be a bit rusty, but having spent a good amount of time with the eminent felis catus we beg to differ.

if cats can not understand cause-and-effect then how are they so good at getting what they want? meowing at the door will get them a trip outside. meowing at the food bowl will often-times get them a snack. scratching an inappropriate area will get them some red-faced attention. they even learn how to manipulate objects to get what they want, thus bypassing human involvement altogether. we have cats who turn on the faucets themselves when they're looking for a fresh drink of water and who figure out cupboard doors and food bins.

even wikipedia's article on cat intelligence agrees with us that cats aren't dummies. in fact, the physiology of a cat's brain even works similarly to that of our own noggins:

"the physical structure of human brains and that of cats are very similar; they have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex (the "seat" of intelligence) as humans do. Human brains also function the same way, conveying data via identical neurotransmitters."

so all in all cats fetch, cats learn tricks, cats play and cats have the were-withal to know when to just relax and take a nice nap.

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