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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.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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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