At the University of California Davis and The University of British Columbia, scientists are seeking people from the US and Canada who own 2 adult cats for their recent experiment. Ultimately, the experiment will consist of watching cat videos along with a few communication tests. According to reporter and biologist Ed Cara, this experiment “will reveal how well the typical owner can interpret cat-to-cat interactions, including those that could become aggressive, and ultimately help owners better understand their cats”.
The cat videos themselves will showcase both positive and negative interactions between cats. The owners will then have to rate their behaviors on a scale from “extremely positive” to “extremely negative”. The researchers will then ask the cat owners how their cats show similar behaviors at home and compare their response with trained cat behaviorists with PHDs.
“The welfare of cats in the home is an under-researched area,” says study researcher Sherry Khoddami, a student at British Columbia’s Applied Animal Biology Program. “From providing access to resources (such as food, water, litter, perches, resting areas, and more) to recognizing problem behaviors between their cats and interfering when necessary. We want to know how knowledgeable owners are of the resources their cats need and at identifying positive and negative behaviors displayed by their cats.”
The problem with the experiment lies in bias and diverse selection as cats were raised in various households, which may otherwise skew the results. Also, people’s opinion on cat behavior may alter the way people view the cat videos and how they get along with their cats. Still, experimenters are aiming for at least 2000 participants by the start of 2022 to further feline relationships.
“In the end, we hope this research can help identify gaps in owners’ knowledge of cat behaviour. The misconception that cats are independent and like to be left alone is outdated, and we need to provide cat-owners with more educational resources to ensure their cats’ welfare in the home,” says Sherry. “As people adopt more pets during these hard times, it’s key for shelters, veterinarians, and other professionals to give cat owners access to these resources.”
The survey can be found on the University of California’s website and takes no longer than 15 minutes to California. No personal information needs to be provided. Even if you’re not eligible to participate, the website also features other experiments on cats such as their reaction to optical illusions and how cats and dogs traverse an obstacle course. Be on the lookout!