If you’ve spent any time around cats, you’ve probably noticed that they love to curl up in small, cozy boxes. What you may not know is that they’ll also go sit inside the two-dimensional outline of a square box on the floor. What’s more, a new study has found that pet cats will also spontaneously sit inside an optical illusion that merely looks like a square.
Believed to be the first of its kind, the study enlisted volunteers to observe cats in their homes, a strategy to avoid what has historically been the main impediment to studying feline cognition in the lab — cats’ notoriously uncooperative nature.
“Cats are funny, cats are weird and quirky, and we love them for it. And that makes them hard to study in some ways, because we are often so reliant on training paradigms and cats aren’t very motivated to be trained,” says Gabriella Smith, an animal behavior researcher who currently works with the Alex Foundation, an avian cognition lab, and is the lead researcher on the study.
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