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The Best Experiment Ever

If you wanted to reward your hard-working graduate students with a new assignment, what would be better than an experiment that involved observing 40 kittens playing? And if you wanted to explain how the scientific method works to elementary students, you couldn't find a more engaging example than an experiment to find what kind of scratching toy those kittens prefer. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Two-choice preference tests were conducted to compare scratchers and preferred scratchers with or without additives (ie, catnip, catnip oil, cat hair) in six studies. Kittens (n = 40, *8 weeks old) had access to two scratchers on the floor of a simulated living room for 20 mins and interactions were video-recorded. The time each kitten spent scratching each scratcher was compared.

Facts and figures are presented, and there was a clear preference among the kittens for one of the scratching devices shown above. Can you guess which one? Since the results "were not in agreement with other survey-based studies," and the experiment did not include adult cats, the paper concludes that further research is indicated to determine if the difference is attributable to the cats' ages. Do tell. Where do we sign up to conduct the next experiment? -via Metafilter


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