Friday Faves: Science Meets Cats, February 6, 2015

Cats in print

A study examining the role of  cats in New York Times' stories over the year revealed some interesting patterns: cats were mostly hated in the 1800's, and beginning in the 1970's, stories about cats were more focused on welfare issues and treatment of cats. This shift likely reflects the growing interest in human-animal relations, and on-going debates over how we treat all animals. Fascinating!

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Cats + Tech

The MousR is a cat toy being developed to respond to your cats' movements - with "vision" that can detect your cat's reactions. MousR was created by cat-loving PhD students in Engineering at UC Illinois and I'm now wondering if I went into the wrong field! They've almost convinced me to spend $150 on a cat toy! After a successful kickstarter, MousR is set for a fall 2015 release.

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Now, the Meowlingual has me less convinced. For $169, it will apparently read your cat's facial expressions and meows. Given the Bowlingual's less than overwhelming success (Behaviorist Sophia Yin reviewed it on her blog and said: "Overall, my final ruling is that the Bow-lingual is fun to play with for a while if you got it for free, but it’s not very useful since the translations aren’t trustworthy and most don’t make sense." I'm guessing the same is true of Meowlingual. Buyer beware!

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What happens if there aren't enough rabbits for cats?

I recently wrote about a study about cat's individual prey preferences, and one of the authors of that study is a co-author on a new paper looking at the effects of the rabbit population of feral cat predation in Australia. Apparently, cats really love rabbits, but when there aren't enough rabbits, they focus more heavily on other animals, including native birds and rodents. This means thinking twice about rabbit-eradication programs. Read about the study here.

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Why do cats love boxes?

A subject that pops up from time to time, I've even written about it before! People REALLY WANT TO KNOW: why do cats love boxes? It's quite simple really: heat and safety. Wired dug deeper and talked to some cat experts.

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