Cats Understand Physics? Study Suggests Felines May Be Furry Geniuses

Toni Matthews - Author
By

Jun. 15 2016, Updated 4:06 a.m. ET

Cats are more than just ready-made YouTube sensations; a recent study suggests they also understand the laws of physics. According to Science Daily, researchers from Kyoto University in Japan previously conducted experiments that determined cats can predict the presence of invisible objects based on sound.

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“In the present study, the researchers wanted to find out if cats use a causal rule to infer if a container holds an object, based on whether it is shaken along with a sound or not. The team also wanted to establish if cats expect an object to fall out or not, once the container is turned over.”

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As revealed by Saho Takagi, the lead researcher, there were four conditions created for the 30 cats used in the study.

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“Thirty domestic cats were videotaped while an experimenter shook a container. In some cases this action went along with a rattling sound. In others it did not, to simulate that the vessel was empty. After the shaking phase, the container was turned over, either with an object dropping down or not.”

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It was the two instances where results took unexpected turns where things became interesting. Takagi shared that cats tended to stare longer at containers that defied explanation — containers that made rattling noises but produced no object or containers that were silent but had something inside. The cats seemed to understand that sound, or a lack of sound, should produce a particular outcome. When something defied these expectations, cats became wary.

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