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.

Apparatus:

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

 

Method:

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!

Results:

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…

sticky-riley-1sticky-riley-catnipsticky-riley-3sticky-riley-4

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.

 

 

 

 

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