Tag: primates

Unlike Other Animals, Cats Always Take The Free Meal

When presented with a simple tray of food and a food puzzle that requires a little work to get at the yums inside, every animal ever tested has opted for the latter.

Except cats.

Rhesus monkeys, rats, chickens, bears, starlings, gerbils, chimpanzees and a wide range of other animals are drawn to food puzzles, perhaps because the food tastes sweeter to them if they’ve had to work for it, or maybe because it’s just something amusing to do.

“There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates – even giraffes – prefer to work for their food,” said Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and lead author of the newest study on the phenomenon known as contrafreeloading. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”

Puzzle feeder
A puzzle feeder used in the study. Credit: UC Davis

Delgado, a research affiliate at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine, used a clear puzzle feeder so the cats in her study could see the treats inside. A few feline study participants gave it a shot, but only after grabbing themselves some easy grub first. Other cats just ignored the food puzzle and munched exclusively from the tray.

While this is at least the second study to specifically test whether cats “freeload” their meals, the why of this particular feline behavior remains a mystery. Delgado cautioned against the obvious conclusion — that cats are just lazy — and pointed out that several cats in the study were active and expending energy, just not with the puzzle feeder.

One possible explanation: As hunters and obligate carnivores, cats simply may not enjoy games that simulate foraging the way omnivores and herbivores do.

The study was published on July 26 in the academic journal Animal Cognition. Read it here.

Screenshot 2021-08-13 at 08-31-22 MikelDelgadoProfile jpg (WEBP Image, 800 × 800 pixels)
Mikel Delgado with a kitty. Credit: Community Cats Podcast

Dear Buddy: How Did Cats Acquire Human Servants?

Dear Buddy,

We take human servitude for granted as the natural order of things, but I was wondering: When did we cats first recruit humans to serve us, and how did we tame the humans?

– Wondering in Wisconsin


Dear Wondering,

Ah, an excellent question!

First we must understand the concept of domestication. Domestication is the process of taking humans and making them our domestic servants.

Before they served us, humans were nothing more than apes — wild, unpredictable animals who were constantly running from one place to another in search of food. The primitive primates also moved around excessively, expending too much energy on pointless activities when they could be napping.

The First Felids arrived and offered a wondrous gift to the human race.

“This is a box,” the Felids said, teaching the sacred geometry to humans, who used it to build the first dwellings and design the first crop fields.

neoncube
A gift from felinekind to humankind: The concept of a box.

Cats taught the humans how to dig up the Earth and deposit their waste to render the ground fertile and increase crop yield.

Then they hunted all the vermin who tried to eat the human food, and schooled the nascent civilization in the arts of napping and expending as little energy as possible to accomplish goals.

In return humans offered their endless fealty, promising a thousand generations of warm laps, affectionate chin scratches and delicious treats.

Today humans still serve us, either by choice or because we have infected them with toxoplasma gondii.

Cheers,

Buddy the Wise

catworship