Present a cat with a crate and it will surely jump right in and snuggle up. A recent study aims to show why cats are so tempted to have enclosed spaces. Animal cognition researchers at the Alex Foundation and Thinking Dog Center at Hunter College, Gabriella Smith and Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiereab, and Philippe A. Chouinard of the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University, Australia, recently published an article entitled ‘If I pass, I sit: A civil science study on the susceptibility to illusory contours in domestic cats.
Based on their experiment, the paper showed that cats selected the Kanizsa illusion as often as the square and more often than the control, indicating that domestic cats can treat the subjective Kanizsa contours just as they can the real contours. Over 500 pet cats and their owners participated in this experiment, 30 of which had completed all of the studies in the study. The researchers mentioned that nine cats selected at least one stimulus by sitting with all limbs both illusory and otherwise within the contours for at least three seconds.
Smith and her colleagues were interested in finding out if pet cats would instinctively jump onto the man-made spaces. Most of 30 cats showed no interest at all in illusory and real floor shapes. But the cats that did that were about as likely to be sitting in a Kanizsa square as one that was definitely outlined.
Even before this research, #CatSquare was rife on social media in 2017, when internet users posted pictures of how domestic cats would position themselves in any area of the house marked as a square. Hence, it’s not just cardboard boxes, sinks, or suitcases that your pet cat would jump right into, but anything that remotely resembles an enclosed space.
In previous research in 2014, scientists found that shelter cats given a hiding place recovered faster in their new environment than cats without hiding, as measured by the Cat Stress Score.
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