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Research Reveals Exciting Surprises About Our Feline Friends

Research Reveals Exciting Surprises About Our Feline Friends

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Have you ever wondered what your beloved feline companion does when you leave her alone at home? 

I know I have. Especially because I have an honor to live with 6 cats. Every time I come back home from work I find them either sleeping, grooming themselves, or in the middle of one of their mischievous businesses. 

I almost always wake two of them up from their precious catnap, which results in them shooting me an irritated glance and then moving to another room, completely ignoring me for at least an hour. 

I guess I should be grateful they aren’t cat-wrecking my home (although the rest of them have come pretty close to that possibility).

I’m sure you have similar struggles. In an ideal world, we would be able to spend every second with our feline friends, but it’s simply not pawssible. 

We have to go to work and bring home the bacon (figuratively and literally) and maintain social interactions with our (human) friends. 

cat sleeping on couch

If only there were a way of finding out what a normal day for our furbabies looks like when we’re not around to bother them!

Well, what would you say if I told you there actually is a way to unravel that mystery?

Yup, that’s right! Back in 2019, Maren Huck, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Derby, came up with the idea of conducting rather special research. 

She decided to place small and lightweight cameras on 16 cats and follow them for 4 years as they roamed around their neighborhood.

The aim of her research was to gain the opportunity to study behavior from the animal’s point of view and get to the bottom of the age-old mystery that has occupied the minds of many avid cat enthusiasts for years.

Her study was published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, and it undoubtedly clarified many common feline misconceptions. 

The Motivation Behind Huck’s Research 

orange cat sitting outside

In an interview with Science Mag, Huck spoke about all the challenges she encountered while conducting her research. 

She shared that the main culprit for her research was her very own cat, Treacle. Apparently, one day in 2014 her kitty brought home a merlin that was as big as she was!

After initial shock, Huck wondered whether her little fluffball caught the bird herself, or she just carried it home. That’s when she had a lightbulb moment. She said:

“I wanted to keep a video diary of her exploits, so I bought a small camera on the internet.” 

cat hunted down bird

The camera she purchased could be clipped right onto her cat’s collar, record for two and a half hours, and even record in infrared, which allowed Huck to track her cat at night.

Huck spent 6 months collecting the footage. She told Science Mag

“I noticed that Treacle vocalized less outside than she did in the house and that the pitch of the vocalizations was different. She only caught one thing that whole time: a wood mouse.”

All this made Huck wonder: Was there a possibility of conducting her research more scientifically? Would she even be able to observe more cats and gain a better understanding of how they interact with their surroundings? 

Do Cats Even Like Wearing Cameras?

cat and mouse

If I know anything about cats, it’s that they can’t be easily fooled. Even if it means getting them to wear small and ultraportable cameras on their collars. 

So, as I was reading about Huck’s research, I assumed not many felines supported her otherwise brilliant idea. And I was right. Huck shared:

“We started with 21 cats, but only 16 tolerated the cameras. The others either started racing around or tried to scratch them off. One mother cat was like this, and when we put the camera on her son, she began hitting him. So we didn’t use either cat.”

What can I say – cats will always be cats! Some of them will willingly cooperate with us and support our quirky ideas, while others will object – whether we’re fancy scientists or not.

So, What Did The Videos Reveal?

cat watching trough window

As we all know, many people perceive cats as lazy, unbothered, and uninterested. Especially when compared to dogs. However, Huck’s research definitely exposed the real truth. 

When they were indoors, the cats were seen following their humans around, wanting to be in the same room with them almost all the time. Sounds familiar?

When Huck shared her findings with her students, the majority of them were genuinely surprised when they saw how cats appeared to be attached to their owners just as much as dogs can.

However, once outside, cats showed just how complex their nature is. They were observant and watchful of their surroundings, mildly territorial, and friendly yet reserved with other felines. 

They either stared at each other for a while or engaged in a friendly greeting, briefly touching their noses or licking each other. 

Wait A Minute: Had Similar Research Been Done Before?

cat in a grass

I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, someone must’ve come up with a similar idea long before Mrs. Huck!” 

While that is true and similar studies do exist today, they are not quite as detailed as this one. 

According to Huck, those studies focused solely on one thing, like felines crossing the road. Which is very limited, to say the least. But Huck and her associates wanted to observe the whole range of feline behaviors.

Also, the majority of those studies were based on people directly observing cats. But as we all know, our feline friends behave much differently when they’re alone. Huck shared with Science Mag:

“When I was outside in the garden with Treacle, she would spend a lot of time sleeping or grooming, probably because she felt protected with me there. When I wasn’t around, she mostly hunted and even interacted with other cats.”

Does This Mean That We All Should Put A Camera On Our Fluffballs?

white cat in a fall

Well, if you want to, I say, “Go for it!” 

Huck said she hopes more people will decide to put cameras on their cats to gain a better understanding of their behavior. 

She also mentions the everlasting debate over whether cats should be kept indoors all the time. She said:

“If we find that cats seem more bored or stressed out when kept indoors—for example, by pacing, like some animals do at the zoo—that means we need to think more about enriching their indoor lives or giving them some outside time.”

So if you’re feeling frisky and want to indulge in your online shopping cravings, make sure to add a tiny portable camera to your list. 

I know I will! I can’t wait to see what my cats do when I’m not around. I might even stitch all the footage together and organize a movie night with my friends. That would be awesome, right? 

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