Interesting Research About Cats

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form! Get a subscription now for only $25 a year.

Research in, on, or about cats
by Stephen Drew, Improbable Research staff

The Social Function of Tail Up
“The Social Function of Tail Up in the Domestic Cat (Felis silvestris catus),” S. Cafazzoa and E. Natoli, Behavioural Processes, vol. 80, 2009, pp. 60–66. The authors, at Università degli Studi di Parma, Parma, Italy, and at Area Dipartimentale Sanità Pubblica Veterinaria, Roma, report:

Kittens displayed the tail up when greeting their mother; this behaviour can also be observed in wild species. But in the domestic cat, the tail up can be also observed when an adult individual meets another one and it signals the intention to interact amicably. Rank order affected the display of the tail up posture: it was more frequently displayed by low-ranking cats, and high-ranking individuals received it more often than other members of the social group. Then, tail up seems to be a signal by means of which a cat shows the recognition of the higher social status of the individual to whom is directed.

Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music
“Cats Prefer Species-Appropriate Music,” Charles T. Snowdon, David Teie, and Megan Savage, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 166, 2015, pp. 106-111. The authors, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Maryland, College Park, report (with what appears to be a most curious typographical error, given that the article is about cats): 

We have developed a theoretical framework that hypothesizes that in order for music to be effective with other species, it must be in the frequency range and with similar tempos to those used in natural communication by each species. We... created species-appropriate music for domestic cats and tested this music in comparison with music with similar affective content composed for humans. We presented two examples of cat music in counterbalanced order with two examples of human music and evaluated the behavior and response latencies of cats to each piece. Cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music... and responded with significantly shorter latencies... for cat music.... Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts [sic]...

We have found that domestic cats are more interested in and responsive to music that was composed with species-appropriate features relevant to cats.

Effects of Musical Genres on Twelve Anaesthetized Cats
“Influence of Music and its Genres on Respiratory Rate and Pupil Diameter Variations in Cats Under General Anaesthesia: Contribution to Promoting Patient Safety,” Filipa Mira, Alexandra Costa, Eva Mendes, Pedro Azevedo, and L Miguel Carreira, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, epub March 30, 2015. The authors, at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, report:

Objectives ̵ The aims of the study were to recognise if there is any auditory sensory stimuli processing in cats under general anaesthesia, and to evaluate changes in respiratory rate (RR) and pupillary diameter (PD) in anaesthetised patients exposed to different music genres, while relating this to the depth of anaesthesia.

Methods ̵ A sample of 12 cats submitted for elective ovariohysterectomy were exposed to 2 min excerpts of three different music genres (classical [CM], pop [PM] and heavy metal [HM]) at three points during surgery (T1 = coeliotomy; T2 = ligature placement and transection of the ovarian pedicle; T3 = ligature placement and transection of the uterine body).

A multiparametric medical monitor was used to measure the RR, and a digital calliper was used for PD measurement. Music was delivered through headphones, which fully covered the patient’s ears. P values <0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.

Results ̵ Statistically significant differences between stimuli conditions for all surgical points were obtained for RR (T1, P = 0.03; T2, P = 0.00; and T3, P = 0.00) and for PD (T1, P = 0.03; T2, P = 0.04; and T3, P = 0.00). Most individuals exhibited lower values for RR and PD when exposed to CM, intermediate values to PM, and higher values to HM.


The article above is from the May-June 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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