Wednesday, February 13, 2019

exhibiting hunting behavior

Some scientists wanted to find out if cats see the same optical illusions that humans do. So they printed out some patterns that give the illusion that they're moving, and put them in front of some cats.

Who batted at them, thus showing pretty effectively that the illusion is visible to cats.

What interested me is that, in the report, the scientists didn't say the cats were playing, which is what a cat owner would say. No, they're scientists, so they said that the cats were "exhibiting hunting behavior."

True enough, but what a way to put it. Ever since I read that, when one of our cats meows at me in that particular way, instead of saying, in that singy tone of voice owners use with cats, "Do you want to play?", I'll ask in the same tone, "Do you want to exhibit hunting behavior?"

Anyway, Tybalt, our new cat, loves to exhibit hunting behavior. He's already wrecked two consecutive toys-dangling-from-a-stick, by running off with the toy in his mouth and inadvertently destroying the stick as it dangles behind him. He clomps frantically around with his claws spread out as I scratch the end of a decapitated peacock feather around the floor. And I've introduced the laser pointer, which generates galloping runs across the room followed by the most puzzled looks of "where did it go?"

Tybalt's need to play - I mean, to exhibit hunting behavior - seems nearly constant, at least when I'm around, and my passing will cause him to wake up and emerge asking for more. Maia wants some too, but it's hard for her to get any attention when Tybalt is always butting in. Occasionally he's distracted by something else for a bit, or I've got Maia by herself in a room whose door can be closed.

And so my time is wrought.

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