The week in silly studies: Cats take on owners’ traits

Jordan Chittley

Some dogs, such as the ones in Fido commercials, have a striking resemblance to their owners, but a new study out of Italy has found something much more frightening. Cats go the next step and actually act like their owners.

The scientists at the University of Messina's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine found cats learn from their owners and adapt their lifestyle and habits.

"Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats," said Giuseppe Piccione of the University, according to Discovery News.

Researchers studied two groups of cats which each lived in homes where owners worked during the day and were home in the evenings. One group of cats lived in smaller homes forcing them to stay closer to their owners and the second group lived in larger homes and spent more time outdoors including at night.

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The study, for the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, found the cats in the first group would eat and sleep at the same time as their owners.

"Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory," Jane Brunt, DVM, and the executive director of the CATalyst Council, told Discovery News. "They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that's been improperly closed and where their feeding and toileting areas are."

So if you keep going to the fridge, chances are your cat will keep going back to its bowl. The study says this explains why human and cat obesity rates often match.

Brunt told Discovery News cats aren't just lonely jerks, but are social and if their main social group is humans then humans need to encourage activities like proper play.

She said owners also adjust their schedules to meet the needs of their cat so we are really learning from each other.

(AFP image)

The week in silly studies is a feature that appears each Tuesday.
It is not intended to mock real science.

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