A scientific (cat) revolution

Inspired by my own work, one of my big ideas for the blog involves scientific research. How exactly?

There are loads of overly-complicated, dry, boring research articles and books about cats. But barely anyone reads it. Why? The overly-complicated, dry and boring thing is one part of the problem. The other is that you can’t. You have to pay to read most scientific journals/articles online, and the books are often prohibitively expensive.

Here’s an example from Snowdon, Teie and Savage (2015), “Cats prefer species-appropriate music”.

It is an intriguing topic for sure. But if you want to read about it, it will set you back $39.95 for 24 hours of access to this article here. Err, no thanks?

For fun, let’s imagine that you did pay for it. Here’s a brief quote from the paper:

“There was an overall inter-observer concordance of 94.8%. The data were 168 not normally distributed and non-parametric tests were used. We used Wilcoxon Matched Pairs 169 Signed Rank Tests to evaluate difference between human versus cat music stimuli in both 170 frequency and latency of interest behaviours. We used a binomial test to see if cats reduced or 171 increased activity with any type of musical stimulus. We also calculated several regressions 172 models to find the model with the best fit to the age of the cat and approach/appetitive behaviour 173 as well as age and latency to respond. Analyses were performed using SPSS17.0 and all 174 probabilities are two-tailed.”

Really interesting and engaging language, right…? I think you’d be pissed you just spent $39.95.

It gets worse. The vast majority of scientific literature barely gets read by anyone. Even in the scientific community people don’t tend to read papers. Apparently, it’s not unusual for just 10 people to read a given paper. A paper that may have 3 years or more of research behind it. Isn’t that shocking?

That’s how I got my idea. I’ll (try) to disseminate all the really interesting cat-related science that I have access to. Today was the first foray into this minefield, and I came across a book by John A. Shivik:

Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes: The Science of Animal Personalities*

This was clearly not going to be like any normal scientific book. Rather than me explaining what this book is about (poorly), here are two of its reviews:

*If you like the sound of it, get it here or here.

“Dr. John Shivik relates his personal conversion to the viewpoint that each animal has his or her own personality, an idea that scientists have resisted until recently. This enjoyable book is loaded with fun personal anecdotes, as well as solid scientific information. I highly recommend it.” –Con Slobodchikoff, author of Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals 


“I’ll tell you what’s rarer than a mousy cat or a sheepish coyote: a behavioral scientist who’s gutsy enough to admit he had animals pegged all wrong! Brave, funny, honest, and insightful, John Shivik’s new book chronicles his transformation and the revelations that come with understanding that, like people, all animals are individuals. From cats to coyotes to guppies to bees, the individual animals you’ll meet in these pages will blow your mind, warm your heart, and make your hair stand on end. This important book heralds a scientific revolution. Don’t miss it.” –Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus

Intriguing no? I certainly thought so. This is one piece of work that needs absolutely no additional work from me. So, what’s the point of this blog post then?!?! John provides some absolutely wonderful cat truisms and anecdotes in this book that I just had to share. They’re hilarious, yes, but some of them also offer advice for us humans.

The following quotes are paraphrased where necessary because they make absolutely zero sense out of context. Enjoy!

General funnies

  • The one annoying companion that has been with me through it all.
  • A needy meow tuned to the tone and key of fingernails on a chalkboard.
  • There was no denying it anymore. The cat and I were a team.
  • I point out to him that it was his house. I do the human side and keep out the human robbers; he’s responsible for the feline interlopers.
  • Shaped like a bowling pin, he lands like a bowling ball.
  • It sounds and feels as if I am being cuddled by a cement mixer.

Cat truisms

  • My cat, for all practical purposes, is an asshole.
  • At an intellectual level, it doesn’t make sense to bond with a cat.
  • They’re little bastards that don’t care about you or anyone else, or if they do, they want it only on their own terms.
  • I like him because of his difficulty-because of his personality. (May also apply to humans come to think of it?)

Cat lessons

  • He’s fat, loud, and lopsided. But he doesn’t give a damn. Worse, he stares at me, judging, as if I look funny.
  • He is confident in knowing what he wants, isn’t afraid to communicate it, and isn’t overly self-conscious about striving forward, even if he looks silly or fails in his attempt.

6

Let me know in the comments which you like best! Or better yet, share your own funny cat story, truism or lesson. And if you like the sound of the book, it’s actually reasonably priced on Amazon, get it here or here. ❤

Much love,
Annie, Will & kitties 
xxxxx

Response to the WordPress Daily Post one-word prompt: Shock

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4 thoughts on “A scientific (cat) revolution

    • HumansForCats says:

      That’s a great one. It’s one of the first few lines I read in the book. The gang are doing well. Jazz was peeing blood (!), his urine crystals are back. He’s on lots of medication now and is very happy again. He keeps knocking Harmony and Kuipers ashes down too, not sure if he’s trying to tell me something or not! x (Hope Buster is doing well!)

      Like

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