Cats Use Simple Physics Law To Track Hiding Prey

Posted: Jun 15 2016, 1:16am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 16 2016, 9:50am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Cats Use Simple Physics Law to Track Hiding Prey
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Research says cats understand physics and use cause and effect law for detecting hiding prey.

Cats have amazing instincts. From hearing to smelling to sighting, their acute senses allow them to become highly efficient predators. But it's not sheer natural abilities that helps them detect hiding prey. New research suggests that cats can understand a little bit of physics too and combining simple physics law with a sharp sense of hearing, they can predict where their possible prey is hiding.

Japanese researchers conducted experiments to find out whether cats can anticipate the presence of an unseen object on the basis of the sound produced by the container when it is shaken. Also, whether they expect the object to fall once the container is turned over. The cause and effect law is applicable in both those situations.

Cause and effect is a relationship in which one event makes other event happen. If the shaking of container is accompanied by no sound and consequently no object, it complies with law of physics. But if a rattling sound is followed by a no object drop out or no sound led to a falling object, both these outcomes defied the law of physics. 

For carrying out experiments, researchers involved 30 domestic cats. A team of researchers from Kyoto University in Japan shook the containers in front of the cats, turned them around and observed the reactions of cats.  

Researchers found that cats generally looked longer at the boxes which produced rattling sounds, which suggested that cats used a physics law to anticipate the existence or absence of an object based on whether they heard a rattle or not.

The animal also stared longer when unexpected results were produced, meaning rattling container did not yield a falling object or silent container led to the presence of an object. Cats stared at these incongruent conditions for long time in a kind of disbelief as they were trying to realize that such conditions are not consistent with their grasp of casual logic.

“Cats use a causal-logical understanding of noise or sounds to predict the appearance of invisible objects.” Lead researcher Saho Takagi said.

It appears that cat’s natural predatory behavior is assisted by its surroundings to maximize its ability to find a prey. However, researchers believe that further studies are needed to understand what exactly cats imagine when they pick up noises and how they utilize them.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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