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Cats love illusory boxes too

News you can use: A citizen science project has found that cats not only like to climb into real boxes, if you paint the illusion of a square on the ground they will prefer that spot as well.

The illusion at hand was the Kanizsa square: four pacman-like shapes orientated to look like they’re forming four corners of a square, inducing the viewer to perceive a square that isn’t actually there.

…Cognitive ethologist Gabriella Smith from the City University of New York and colleagues recruited humans to set up floor objects for their feline lordlings to choose from – a taped square, a visual illusion of a square, and the same components as the visual illusion, but not arranged to produce a square (the control).

The cat owners were required to film the cats’ response under reasonably controlled conditions to avoid influencing the animals’ choices (this involved wearing sunglasses, too). While over 500 pet cats were originally enrolled, the final data set shrunk down to 30 citizen scientists who managed to complete all the necessary trials.

…”The cats in this study stood or sat in the Kanizsa and square stimuli more often than the Kanizsa control, revealing susceptibility to illusory contours and supporting our hypothesis that cats treat an illusory square as they do a real square,” they found.

Need I add there because of the small sample there is a lot of uncertainty about these results. Though as far as the cats are concerned, there is no uncertainty at all: They rule, and their human servants shall obey.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

9 comments

  • Chris Lopes

    Yep, dogs have owners, cats have staff.

  • wayne

    Chris-
    Good stuff.
    (That’s what my front door mat says.)

    “Reducing Hole for the Cat. When will he stop?”
    Catpusic, March 2020
    https://youtu.be/5Cdv932eoU0
    2:01

  • wayne

    Jordan Peterson / Akira the Don
    Rule #12, “Pet A Cat When You Encounter One”
    From “12 Rules for Life”
    February 2018
    https://youtu.be/LAIQNwCbf0Y
    4:11

  • Alex Andrite

    Funny. My daughters Siamese cat ‘knows’, that when any dresser or kitchen drawer is opened, that she will fit, and in she goes, even climbing up to the open drawer.
    Must be a Siamese thing.

    At one time daughter sent me a youtube of a couple of Bengal Tigers, in captivity, playing with large cardboard boxes, sizes such as you would get with a new freezer or refrigerator. The silly cat jumped right in and sat there very smug looking, then the play time with the boxes began. A real hoot.
    “If I fits, I sits”.

  • Col Beausabre

    wayne – It’s amazing what you can get grant money for

  • wayne

    Col–
    That, is hilarious.

    i can’t resist….
    (research has been accelerated under the harris-biden adm.)

    “Reducing Transparent Tube for the Cat”
    CatPusic April 2021
    https://youtu.be/zmPKxV_zLJY
    3:17

  • Let’s be real, here.

    ” . . . recruited humans to set up floor objects for their feline lordlings to choose from . . . ”

    “The cat owners were required to film the cats’ response . . . ”

    No ambiguity, here.

  • Corona

    Curious what a cat would do with an M.C. Escher “box”.

  • Edward

    Robert noted: “News you can use: A citizen science project has found that cats not only like to climb into real boxes, if you paint the illusion of a square on the ground they will prefer that spot as well.

    A citizen engineering project has looked into cats:
    An Engineer’s Guide to Cats
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHXBL6bzAR4 (7 minutes)

    These engineers did not experiment with illusory squares, but they do confirm the box theory, among other phenomena. We might also get an idea of what a cat would do with an M.C. Escher “box”.

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