Study Shows That Cats Understand Physics


Experiments by researchers at Kyoto University in Japan suggest cats have rudimentary understanding of physics and the principle of cause and effect.

Previous studies have shown cats use their hearing to anticipate the presence of hidden objects. Most recently, researchers tested whether cats could anticipate an object’s presence in a box based on the sound made when shaking the box. The researchers also tested whether cats expected an object to fall from a box when it was flipped upside down. The findings were published this week in the journal Animal Cognition.

Experimenters shook boxes in front of 30 domestic cats with and without an accompanying rattling sound. Some flipped boxes yielded a dropped object, the others did not.

Only two of the four scenarios — a rattling box yielding an object and a silent box yielding nothing — complied with physics. Rattling boxes without a falling object and silent boxes with a falling object both defied physics.

During the experiment, cats stared longer at rattling boxes, suggesting they rightly anticipated an object based on sound. They also stared longer when a flipped box yielded unexpected results — results incongruent with the laws of physics.

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SOURCE: UPI, Brooks Hays