I remember the first time I saw my brother’s dog drag his posterior across the living room carpet.
The friendly little good boy, a terrier-Chihuahua mix, had just returned from a walk with my brother. He hopped up onto the couch, then down, leaning back into an odd-for-a-dog sitting position.
Then, with his little back legs spread, he used his front paws to drag his butt across the carpet with a heavy exhale, the canine equivalent of an “Oh yeah!” sigh of relief.
I know there are many feline behaviors that gross out dog loyalists, but thank God we don’t have to watch our kitties use carpets and area rugs as butt-scratchers.
Cats have more dignity than that. Cats are legendarily fastidious animals.
Or are they?
Kaeden, an enterprising sixth-grader from Florida, set out to “tackle the challenging task of answering the internet’s most burning question, drum roll please,” his mother, Kerry Griffin, wrote on Facebook. “Does your cat’s butthole really touch all the surfaces in your home?”
He would go on to present his findings and methodology at his school’s science fair.
Kerry has a doctorate in animal behavior with a concentration in feline behavior that she says she “never used.” She put it to good use for the project, helping her son come up with a plan: They’d use non-toxic lipstick and apply it to the cats’ “bum-bums.” Then they’d place each cat on a sheet of paper and run through commands.
“Both cats have been trained since kittenhood with a variety of commands. They also know how to high-five, spin around, and speak,” Kerry wrote. “They were compensated with lots of praise, pets and their favorite treats, and the lipstick was removed with a baby wipe once we collected our data in just under 10 minutes.”
They tested each cat on soft surfaces, like carpet and bedding, and on hard surfaces like tiled floors. If the cat left lipstick residue on the sheet of paper, it was counted as positive contact.
“Long and medium haired cat’s buttholes made NO contact with soft or hard surfaces at all,” Kerry wrote. “Short haired cats made NO contact on hard surfaces. But we did see evidence of a slight smear on the soft bedding surface.”
So there you have it. If your cats are long- or medium-hair, congratulations. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to have a little chat with the short-haired Buddy…