Posts Tagged ‘science’
Wired‘s Bryan Gardiner answers the question. It turns out that they really like warm places where they can hide.
Understanding the feline mind is notoriously difficult. Cats, after all, tend not to be the easiest test subjects. Still, there’s a sizable amount of behavioral research on cats who are, well, used for other kinds of research (i.e., lab cats). These studies—many of which focused on environmental enrichment—have been taking place for more than 50 years and they make one thing abundantly clear: Your fuzzy companion derives comfort and security from enclosed spaces.
This is likely true for a number of reasons, but for cats in these often stressful situations, a box or some other type of separate enclosure (within the enclosures they’re already in) can have a profound impact on both their behavior and physiology.
Ethologist1 Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands is one of the latest researchers to study stress levels in shelter cats. Working with domestic cats in a Dutch animal shelter, Vinke provided hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived cats while depriving another group of them entirely. She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. In effect, the cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans.
It makes sense when you consider that the first reaction of nearly all cats to a stressful situation is to withdraw and hide. “Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors,” Vinke said in an email.
This is as true for cats in the wild as it is for those in your home. Only instead of retreating to tree tops, dens, or caves, yours may find comfort in a shoe box.
Much more at the link.
Universe Today’s Nancy Atkinson reports.
Here’s some footage from some the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories which include a test of the effects of weightlessness on cats in a C-131 “vomit comet” that simulates weightlessness. Best I can tell, this research was done in 1947. Think of it in the same vein as all those weird tests the early astronauts had to endure.
The text from the video: “In these experiments you can see the disorientation resulting when an animal is suddenly placed in a weightless state. Cats when dropped under normal conditions will invariably rotate their bodies longitudinally in midar and land on their feet. This automatic reflex action is almost completely lost under weightlessness.”