In this study, recently published in the journal Animal Cognition, cats were given a solvable task (an easily accessible treat in a loose-lid container) and an impossible task (a treat in a closed container) in the presence of either attentive or inattentive caregiver.
In the solvable task condition, cats easily figured out how to access the treat and did not attempt to involve the person in the process. However, when cats were unable to access the treat themselves, they used behavioral strategies to convey their intent to the person, e.g. As well as asking for help, they changed their behavior based on the person’s availability. If the person was looking at them and paying attention, the cats were more engaged; they looked at her earlier and more often and approached the treat container more often. If the caregivers were not paying attention, the cats adjusted their strategy, presumably after realizing that the person was not engaged. It was believed that these sophisticated cognitive skills were used by dogs, not cats.
“Communication is an important part of any relationship, and this study shows that cats may be better communicators than we thought they’d be,” said François Martin, MA, Ph.D., director of Applied Behavioral and Animal Welfare Research at Purina and lead the Purina scientist on the project. “The more attentive a cat owner is, the more engaged their cat will be, which strengthens their relationship.”
This study complements the decades of research by Purina animal behaviorists to better understand the behavior, emotional development, and health of cats and dogs.
“The more we understand about pet behavior and the factors that contribute to their general well-being, the better current and future pet owners will be at looking after their dogs and cats in ways that bond together.” said Martin.
Learn more about this study at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01503-6
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SOURCE Nestlé Purina PetCare