Today is the day Article 50 gets invoked, and the UK steps back in time to 1973. This is a sad time to be alive, so to lighten the gloom a bit, something new about cats. I’ve not done anything feline-related for a while, have I?
Firstly, a bit of research I find implausible. Some 600 years after the invention of the catflap (this was driven by necessity to avoid the madness resulting from letting cats out and back in several times an hour), some researchers at Oregon State University have flown in the face of past studies of cat behaviour. They’ve also flown in the face of reason, because according to them, cats aren’t indifferent to Homo sapiens. They prefer humans even to other cats. I can believe the last bit, but not the first bit. Cats are snotbags. You know that. I know that. They just are. The OSU guys are wrong.
It gets a bit more interesting when you go a bit deeper. They had 23 pet cats, and 22 shelter cats to test. Only 38 of the cats mastered the test. That’s just over 80%. I think we can safely assume the others simply couldn’t be arsed, or were being deliberately cussed as they are wont to be.
Of those 38, after getting how things worked, 19 later chose to hang out with their human chums. That’s only 50%. The rest hung about mainly with food (surprise!), then toys. Only one opted for the scent of another cat.
The reason why some hung with the humans is easy to fathom, isn’t it? They associated the humans with food, and being encouraged to have fun on their own and without irritating interference in the form of having a cushion chucked at them. No wonder they stuck around. It was Fat City.
The propellorheads didn’t go for the obvious, but babbled on a bit about how the data don’t support the contention that ‘cats have not been domesticated long enough to show preference for human interaction.’ They do concede that some cats are more friendly than others. No kidding?
Then a story about the American fad of training your cat to use the toilet. There are not one, but two books on the subject. All methods include weaning the cat off using cat litter by putting the litter in a bowl in the toilet, and gradually increasing the size of the whole through which the litter and the crap fall into the bowl. There must be a lot of rich plumbers and frustrated sewerage maintenance engineers around where toilet training cats in the new big thing.
The article helpfully points out that cats don’t have thumbs so can’t flush. Life is full of disappointments. Oh, and the training gurus recommend the ‘truffle test’ where you drop a turd-sized piece of something in the pan to make sure the splash won’t reach Tiddles’s arse.
Some mad folks even have a separate toilet for the cat. Spoilt? Not much. But it might be wise, since many a cat is far too fastidious to share crapper space with a human.
If you don’t have a separate toilet, you’re going to encounter some classic bloody-awkward feline behaviour. One of the authors admits that every cat he has trained has taken up racing him to the bathroom whenever he goes. ‘You just have to stand there and wait for them.’
There’s a surprise, eh?