What cats think about humans? "A window outside the human world"
“Cats are a window outside the human world.
They are themselves, and they stay themselves.
They adapt to human ways. But they don’t adopt human ways.”
~John Gray, philosopher
What we do know about the inner lives of our felines at home is usually determined by scientists running studies in their homes. Cats are very difficult to study in a laboratory environment. According to Dr. Siracusa of the University of Pennsylvania, “The behaviour of a cat is so modified by its environment that if you move it to a laboratory, what you’ll see is not really reflective of what the normal behaviour of the cat is.”
Following are some of we know, at least what we think we know, about our mysterious and fascinating felines at home
- Dr. Takagi of Kyoto University - Cats are quite concerned about their owners, they mentally track the locations of their owners by their voice. Cats in her study were played audio of their owners calling their names. When the source of their owner’s voice was moved, they appeared the most startled.
- Dr. Siracusa of the University of Pennsylvania - Cats do get attached to people. They get attached to other animals too. Cats often show affection by proximity, if not physical interaction, “being in the same room as you or physically close to you”. Our elegant cats approach us, bump their heads and walk away.
- Dr. Hiestand of the University of Sussex. Cats can feel depressed. The issue is that cat behaviour is incredibly subtle. "....because a miserable cat sits still and doesn’t do much. We think that, if they are miserable, they’ll be hissing and fighting. But that’s an action of last resort for them". (Look out for litter box issues, eating changes and vocalization changes)
Dr. Siracusa of the University of Pennsylvania - Cats also retain memories. "Cats learn from experience and retain information that will keep them away from trouble or help them to get an advantage.”
- Dr. Takagi of Kyoto University - Cats retain more prosaic memories too. Researchers served cats' favorite food in specific bowls (allowing them to create memories of what was served and when), then later switched the bowls. Cats apparently could recall if they had previously searched a given bowl when looking for a particular treat and the circumstances under which this had occurred. “This showed that it was a one-time experience that could be used and retrieved later,” says Takagi. “This type of memory is called episodic memory, and it is equivalent to memories in humans.
- Dr. Hiestand of the University of Sussex. Cats dream. “Going over the day’s events and storing things in their memory banks,” Hiestand says. “There’s no reason to think their brains would work so differently to ours in that respect.”
However, what cats cannot do is to make long-term plans because their frontal lobes are not developed, according to Dr. Siracusa.
"Most of their thoughts are related to staying safe, and happy".