A proper scientific experiment, with unexpected results

Another Caturday post…

Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs samanthamurdochblog last weekend, apart from adding to my ongoing crystal education, and making me laugh as she always does, Samantha mentioned a self awareness test for animals. It rang a tiny, tiny bell. Somewhere in my brain, behind the Doris Day archive, next to the ‘what is my favourite cake’ index (pretty large), I had tucked away a little snippet of similar information, but, once retrieved, dust blown away and cobwebs removed it just read ‘see if they recognise themselves in a mirror’ without the added and interesting ‘stick something on the cat’ element from Samantha‘s post. And I knew I had previously tried this first version of the test with every single cat I have cared for. With mixed results. No ‘amazing, awesome, this cat is a genius’ results, to be clear. Just mixed from zero reaction to a reflection, to attacking the reflection, to checking around the side of the mirror to find the ‘other’ cat, to running away. So I had fairly low expectations with the current incumbent of the pussycat-in-residence role, Riley. But, you never know, right? Why not try the newer version of the test and see what happens!

So here is the (very) scientific experiment.


One cat

One bit of not-too-sticky sticky stuff. I am a crafter, so plenty of low tack masking tape on hand. I felted it a few times just to be sure it was barely sticky at all.

One mirror



The googled version of the experiment I found said the animal should be sedated first. Obviously this is not going to happen. I opted for a a catnip treat as a suitable safe alternative. For the cat, of course. I had a glass of wine, to be sociable. Human catnip.

Affix the barely-sticky sticky thing to a part of the body the subject (Riley) cannot see. This took longer than expected. Cats can swivel their head A LOT. I stuck it on his back – saw it. On his shoulder – saw it. Back of his ear – fell off. My care to make sure the sticky stuff was not too sticky was backfiring somewhat. Top of the head – he saw it coming and just threw his head back so again it fell off. About five times. This calls for a bit of sleight of hand: make an interesting diversion with one hand (pretending to be a spider) whilst positioning with the other. Houston, we have contact!


Now as I wanted to capture the moment my dear pet proved he was indeed self aware, I needed to take pictures, whilst holding the mirror. Really this was a two-person job, but there was only one person around at the time. So I tried holding both bits of kit and took quite a lot of pictures of my knee, the carpet, the corner of the sofa and the ceiling before giving up on the photo shoot and just showing him the bleeping mirror. An instant reaction! Ears pricked and forward, whiskers perked and….and…and nothing. He was reacting to the spot of bright light created by the mirror. Or ‘Tinkerbells’ as we call it, courtesy of my brother-in-law. Once the Tinkerbell disappeared he settled back down, sticky stuff still in place.

But, here’s where it becomes truly great science. Does everyone know the story about Viagra? How it was developed as a drug for cardiac problems but in the clinical trials, where each tester records in great detail all the side effects they have noticed…well, that’s when the target market was changed. It’s the testing you see, where you make great discoveries. And this is what we found out…

Felting (sticking on your clothes a few times to make it even less tacky) a small, normally super-light strip of low tack masking tape, changes the density, or atomic weight, or something science-y anyway, as my pictures clearly and irrefutably demonstrate…


After the last photo the sticky paper fell off and he jumped up, right as rain. Clearly it is kryptonite for cats. No doubt the Nobel Prize will be in the post.





41 thoughts on “A proper scientific experiment, with unexpected results

  1. Lol!!! That’s so funny! I’ll have to try that with my cats! Here’s a funny cat story – courtesy of my sister. Years ago my sister had a cat called Smudge – she was a lovely cat and a little bit on the large side! One day my sister noticed a hard lump on her back and was quick to get her hubby to take Smudge to see our vet. Now, he’s great with animals – especially cats, but he is not a people person! Let’s just say his bedside manner could be improved upon! Anyway, traumatised brother-in-law takes in Smudge expecting a non too favourable diagnosis. Vet examines the rather bemused Smudge and promptly says “You fool! It’s a boiled sweet!” Poor Smudge had got a bit too big to get to the offending sweet and her fur was hiding it from plain view! Obvious relief then for my sister and her hubby quickly backed up by a large dose of embarrassment! I’m pleased to say that Smudge was none the worse for her little trip to the vets! We still don’t know how the sweet got there in the first place….

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Lol! Poor Smudge! Maybe she was saving it as an emergency snack?! I expect the vet has retold that one over a few dinner tables. Unless they have a confidentiality oath of course! Great story.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ha, your post was so funny. We use to experiment with all the cats we had over the years. Riley was quite entertaining I am sure. I know this had to be an enjoyable time for you, but did Riley enjoy it? Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I commend you for your dedication to furthering the research in this area. Your cat is amazingly handsome, btw 🙂
    I tried the experiment again on a different cat, Ting, as I thought surely Charlie was a fluke…upon feeling the presence of something unbearably heavy on her body ( a not too sticky dot ) she keeled over and lay on her side,unmoving. Purring, but unmoving. Upon removal of the dot she leapt to her feet and ran away. I think this bears out your theory and I confidently await your cure for the common cold…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, definitely kryptonite for cats. Two experiments surely proves it beyond reasonable doubt. Actually I already have a cure for the common cold. Don’t got out. Don’t let anyone in. Easy. No, wait, that’s prevention…and inadvisable…the cure may take a few more days…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, shall we put you forward for DIY SOS? I think that is what it is called? Your neighbours make them cake, I think, and they build you a new house in return, whilst bickering a lot. Bet they have never had to do a moat…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. See, this is why you are the scientist and I a mere apprentice. Had not considered that. But we could dunk them all in precautionary sheep-dip, maybe?


  4. I read this one while I was enjoying my morning tea, and oh boy did it make me chuckle – and sputter! (I think a little tea went up my nose.) I particularly like the way you forced yourself to have a commiserative glass of wine to keep Riley’s spirits up. Very decent of you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Maybe tea is good for the nasal passages? Here’s hoping! Glad my personal sacrifice did not go unnoticed. We do what we can for science….and for the cat..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Last I heard, Riley is going to be calling the RSPCA about you.
    I laughed and I laughed. However, I think I was meant to be laughing at Riley (I think) but I was laughing at you. Bless you.

    Now there’s something I need to talk to you about…. KRYPTONITE.
    Mr. Cobs and I were talking about my own personal Kryptonite yesterday. HOW DID YOU KNOW THIS??? See … there’s that freaky psychotic bond that you and I have, working again! Mr.C and I talked about this yesterday and you today are talking about …. Kryptonite.
    [someone, somewhere in the background is playing those certain notes to … The Twilight Zone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVSRm80WzZk
    Now this has to be someone in your camp, because the only song played in my camp is the theme tune to Bewitched. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1ilRgNsYoA ]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This sounds like a great well documented experiment….photos, healthy specimen (the cat) oh (and the scientist?), lots of notes taken as the experiment progressed. I think you are on to something big…..I am not quite sure what; but there must be some practical application there……maybe another glass of wine……(for the experimentor and some ‘nip for the experimentee)
    As kids we always had cats. We used to lay a piece of cloth on their backs and time how long it took the cat to get it off. They never rolled over to get rid of it. They just started walking lower and lower to the ground without quite slinking. They would have been great at the limbo stick thing. Not sure what scientific goals were reached with those experiments.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I always found the laser things lost their power so quickly, and I worry about accidently catching him with it, so I only use them sparingly. We have an old Christmas bauble that is basically a miniature ballroom glitter ball. Hung in the window, once the sun catches it, more twinkles than any cat can run after!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m sorry. I noticed the similarity too when I saw your post about Nala passing. Never easy to be reminded of them when it is still so recent. Xx


  7. Oh my goodness! This brings up such good memories of our dear Patches. She was the funniest cat, and only cat we ever had. My daughter talked my husband into getting her…he doesn’t like cats. Patches grew on him very quickly. She was always snooping around. When we got Jiffy (a Jack Russell), he was only about 8 weeks old. Patches took him under her “wing”. She taught him how to clean himself! They were quite a pair. My daughter used to try to stick a bow on her head and then watch her “freak” out! We would laugh so hard! She would race around the house, roll around, and then race around the house again. She just knew there was something on her head, but wasn’t quite sure what. Oh how I miss her and her antics!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She sounds like a brilliant cat! Amazing that she had such a parental role with your dog too. Some animals are just plain amazing, aren’t they?! On TV here a while ago they had a series about unusual relationships or bonds between animal species. One of them was a cat who had a litter at the same time as some ducklings were hatched. The cat was letting the ducklings suckle from her, even at the same time as the kittens!


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