Tag Archives: cats

Scientists in Japan claim that cats can learn their name!

Science does important research! Scientists in Japan now claim that cats can learn their name!

Japanese scientists played recordings of a cat’s owner saying four words with lengths and accents similar to its name before saying the feline’s actual name. The word hihu (Japanese for “skin”), for example, might proceed the name “Kari.” As the random words—all nouns—played, the cats became less and less interested. But as soon as they heard their name, most moved their ears and heads; a few even got up (above). The scientists saw similar responses when the cat’s name came after the names of other felines he lived with, or when a stranger spoke the words.

Any cat owner could have told these scientists this. More significant is the fact that cats in the wild normally do not use meowing as a communications tool. Only with humans do they meow, indicating that they learn that humans respond to sound, and they then adapt to use the knowledge to gain what they want from their human staff.

Share

A workout treadmill for cats

News you can use: A company has now designed a smart treadmill specifically designed for cats.

The Little Cat’s biggest selling point is that it has a built-in incentive – an LED light that moves up the center of the ring. As anyone who’s ever flicked a laser pointer around on the floor knows, cats go nuts for those lights, and this might be the missing ingredient that gets their lazy butts onto the treadmill. In some of the videos it seems to work, but in others the cat is far more interested in the LED and looks visibly uncomfortable as soon as the floor starts to move under it.

Where other wheels are passive and only move when the cat starts running, the Little Cat can be set to move on its own at different speeds, like a treadmill. It’s controlled through a smartphone app, letting users set the speed, move the LED around, watch the cat through a live camera feed and even record voice samples to play back when you’re not home. The app also works like a fitness tracker, recording your pet’s run data and apparently using that to develop a customized exercise plan.

No pricing is available as yet. I’ve embedded the company’s video below the fold, which proves once again that it is impossible to predict the strange and absurd places humans will take their ingenuity.
» Read more

Share

Cats might be larger now than in the past

The uncertainty of science: A careful analysis of cat bones from numerous Viking archeology sites going back 2000 years suggests that the size of cats increased during those centuries.

After carefully measuring the bones with an electronic caliper, Bitz-Thorsen and Gotfredsen compared them with those of modern Danish cats dating from 1870 to the present. On average, domesticated cats grew by about 16% between the Viking Age and today, they report this month in the Danish Journal of Archaeology.

The study only focused on Danish cats, so the findings may not be generalizable to other parts of the world. However, a 1987 study of a collection of cat bones from Germany bolsters the idea that domestic cats of the medieval age were smaller than modern-day pets.

They think the size increase was due to better food.

Share

Fat Cat Staying Alive 10 Hours

An evening pause: This pause is a bit more than a pause, since it is ten hours long. I don’t expect anyone to watch it all, as the first three minutes makes the point, quite hilariously, and well worth a few minutes of entertainment. As the filmmaker notes, “Fat cats are always funny…”

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

Share

There were Viking cats

News you can use: New research now suggests that cats spread through human society, with the second wave involving sea-faring people such as the Vikings.

The first wave is a story you’re probably familiar with. When the team looked the mitochondrial DNA – genetic information that’s passed on from the mother only – they found that wild cats from the Middle East and the fertile eastern Mediterranean shared a similar mitochondrial lineage.

This suggests that small wild cats spread through early agricultural communities, because they were attracted to the mice that were attracted to the grains. The farmers likely encouraged their presence, because, let’s face it, those rodent-killing machines would have been mighty cute company.

Then, thousands of years after this, the research points to a separate mitochondrial connection between cats descended from those in Egypt to ones in Eurasia and Africa. “A mitochondrial lineage common in Egyptian cat mummies from the end of the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD was also carried by cats in Bulgaria, Turkey and sub-Saharan Africa from around the same time,” Callaway reports.

This second wave of expansion has been attributed to ancient sea-faring people – farmers, sailors, and Vikings – because the cats were likely encouraged to stay on board to keep their rodent problem in check.

It makes perfect sense. Our ruling lords needed more space, and thus they compelled humans to begin the great explorations that eventually allowed them to conquer the western hemisphere, as well as the internet.

Share

Cats are liquid — if they choose to be

Science marches on! A new study shows that cats can be liquid, if they choose to be.

Fardin noticed that these furry pets can adapt to the shape of the container they sit in—think of a cat in a vase—similarly to what fluids such as water do. So he used the principles of rheology, the branch of physics that deals with the deformation of matter, to calculate cats’ relaxation time, or the time it takes for them to take up the space of a vase or bathroom sink.

The conclusion? Cats can be either liquid or solid, depending on the circumstances, Fardin reported in the Rheology Bulletin in 2014…. A cat in a small box will behave like a fluid, filling up all the space, but a cat in a bathtub full of water will try to minimize its contact with it and behave very much like a solid.

Anyone who has ever owned a cat will be understand this research. It isn’t that cats can be liquid that is expected, it is that cats will do what they want. If they want to be liquid, no one is going to stop them.

Because of this ground-breaking research, the scientist has won this year’s Ig Nobel Physics Prize.

Share

How cats used humans to conquer the world

Link here. The bottom line is this:

Compared to many other animals, cats have also changed very little in the domestication process. Behaviorally, they’ve become more tolerant of humans. Physically, though, they’re still about the same size and shape. They still like to pounce on small prey. “Cats have done since before they were domesticated what we needed them to do,” says Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at the University of Missouri. In other words, unlike dogs that herd sheep or hunt badgers, cats didn’t need humans to breed them to become good mouse hunters.

In other words, cats did what they want (as they always do), and humans paid them with food and companionship, while providing them the transportation they needed to reach every continent.

Share

Science discovers that cats prefer human companionship over food

News you can use: A new study has found that cats will choose human companionship over food if given a choice.

The researchers took 50 cats from shelters and peoples homes and deprived them of food, human contact, scent and toys for a few hours. They then introduced them to stimuli within these four categories to see what they chose.

Most cats chose human socialisation over any of the other categories.

From my perspective, what is even more important is that cats don’t choose those humans nonchalantly. Every cat lover knows that, unlike dogs, cats pick carefully whom they will love. But if they love you they show it.

Share

How cats conquered the world

Link here. This first large scale study of the DNA of ancient cat remains tracks how felines initially spread through human society in the ancient world.

The article and the researchers appear to make one mistake, however, in questioning whether cats have been domesticated. Anyone who owns a cat can answer that question unequivocally: No! Cats merely agree to live with us, on the condition that we treat them as they demand.

Share

Cats vs dogs in genome research

After an initial focus on studying the genomes of dogs, genetics researchers are now switching to cats.

After the completion of the human, mouse and rat genomes, the US National Institutes of Health organized a commission to decide on their next target; the dog genome was selected for high-quality sequencing, whereas cats were put on hold.

That got some cat geneticists’ backs up. “The truth is there were more powerful people interested in dogs,” says Stephen O’Brien, director of the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics in St Petersburg, Russia, who led the initial cat-sequencing efforts.

There is now a project which, for only $7,500, allows scientists to map the genome of any cat for the cause of science. Under this program, they’ve already done 56 cats, including a kitten and her parents.

Share

A new housecat-sized feline species has been discovered in Brazil.

A new housecat-sized feline species has been discovered in Brazil.

Oncillas are housecat-size felines found throughout much of South America, and are also known as little tiger cats, little spotted cats or tigrinas. But not all oncillas are the same: New research suggests that little tiger cats in northeastern Brazil belong to a different species from those elsewhere on the continent, although they look virtually identical.

Researchers analyzed the genetic material of oncillas in northeastern Brazil, and compared them with nearby populations in the south. They found that there was no flow of genes between the two populations of oncillas, and hasn’t been any for millennia, according to the study, published today (Nov. 27) in the journal Current Biology.

This, along with other genetic differences, led researchers to conclude the two populations do not interbreed and are in fact different species, said study co-author Eduardo Eizirik, a researcher at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

Share

Cat purrs prevent heart attacks

Research has now shown that the purr of a cat appears to prevent heart attacks.

A 10-year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 per cent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners. A cat at home reduced the risk of other heart diseases and stroke by 30 per cent.

But then, all cat owners have always known this.

Share
1 2