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New Japanese Study Suggests Cats are Able to Grasp Law of Physics To Hunt Prey

Jun 19, 2016 08:19 AM EDT
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A new study conducted by Japanese researchers suggests that cats have the ability to understand the principle of cause and effect and other laws of physics, and use it in combination with their keen sense of hearing to predict the movements of their prey.

The study, published in the journal Animal Cognition, was led by Saho Takagi of Kyoto University in Japan. It was conducted to determine if cats could use causal rule to predict the presence of an invisible object just based on what they hear.

For the study, researchers performed an experiment involving 30 cats, with 22 of them living in Japanese cat cafes and eight of them are house pets.

The researchers then videotaped the cats while performing four experimental conditions. Two of those conditions are congruent with the law of physics. If a cup containing iron balls were shook, it will create a rattling sound and the balls will be dropped when flipped over. If there is no rattling sound, there will also be no balls that will drop when the cupped is flipped.

For the other two experimental conditions, researchers used custom container with iron steel at the bottom. These conditions were not congruent to physical laws. If the cup was shook it will create a rattling sound, however, no balls were dropped when the cup was flipped. The other scenario is when the balls inside the cup did not rattle while shaking but they were dropped when the cup was flipped.

Upon reviewing the videotapes, Takagi and his colleagues noticed that cats looked more interested in the cups that made rattling noises, suggesting that cats used law of physics to infer the existence of an object inside a cup basing on the noise it produced.

The researchers also noted that the cats stared longer at containers that are not congruent to physical laws. It is as if the cats were aware that such conditions did not fit in their grasp of causal logic.

In a statement, Takagi then concluded that "cats use a causal-logical understanding of noise or sounds to predict the appearance of invisible objects."

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