Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 31

Thread: Scientific proof that cats are useless

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133

    Exclamation Scientific proof that cats are useless

    https://phys.org/news/2018-09-cats-rats.html

    Urban rats hide from cats, so cats are no good against them. Also, cats kill off all other urban wildlife, making them dangerous to city ecosystems.

    Ergo, cats are still useless. On a personal level, I have seven cats, I know this for a fact.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    47,912
    Actually, I'm not surprised. The study was done in New York City and cats such as those are not native animals (though I'm not sure rats are either; certainly Norwegian rats - which I think are the most common species in American cities - are not).

    Generally, when non-native predators are introduced into an ecosystem, they devastate local prey species. The observations of cats' effects on bird populations, for example, have been well studied for years.

    So, you are looking at one non-native species vs. another. I wonder what the native, ancestral feline species do in North Africa, from where they come.

    The study mentions this: "However Australian and US researchers say cats prefer smaller, defenseless prey such as birds and smaller native wildlife—which makes cats a threat to urban ecosystems." My anecdotal observations over many years are that cats are effective against mice and voles; I don't have any personal observations about cats vs. rats.

    The article also says several times that people deliberately release feral cats to control rat populations. That might be true, but I've never heard of anyone doing that. I've known several people who have allowed "barn cats" on their property, but that was to control mice and voles, not rats. And the people I've met who advocate protecting feral cat populations (instead of removing them) do so because they like and want to protect cats, not because they are trying to kill off rats.

    It is an interesting study, but I think a lot of the article is arguing against strawman arguments.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Bend, Oregon
    Posts
    6,018
    The article stresses that their study rats actively hid and avoided the cats. One might say that in itself seems to be a benefit of having cats where there is a rat problem. The rats will go over to your cat-free neighbor's property.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    16,671
    I've never heard anyone suggest that cats are good ratters - that's a fairly serious undertaking for most domestic cats.
    But they can be very effective mousers - my parents lived in a mouse-infested tenement when they first married. They were given a cat whose mother had been a good mouser, and my father described how they would lie in bed at night listening to the cat catching and killing mice around the house, and how every morning there was a small pyramid of mouse corpses at the foot of the bed. It lasted about a month, after which they ran out of mice, and their cat became morose and fat.

    Grant Hutchison
    Blog

    Note:
    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133
    A year ago I witnessed four of our largest cats sitting in a circle--which was odd indeed--staring at a fuzzy cat toy. One cat would lean down, sniff the cat toy, then sit up, looking puzzled.

    Then the cat toy tried to escape, but was stopped by another cat who sniffed it and looked puzzled.

    I got up and walked over, then scooped up the baby mouse that the four cats had been staring at. I took the mouse outside after photographing it, turned it loose, and came back in to find the cats asleep.

    Useless.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    47,912
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    A year ago I witnessed four of our largest cats sitting in a circle--which was odd indeed--staring at a fuzzy cat toy. One cat would lean down, sniff the cat toy, then sit up, looking puzzled.

    Then the cat toy tried to escape, but was stopped by another cat who sniffed it and looked puzzled.

    I got up and walked over, then scooped up the baby mouse that the four cats had been staring at. I took the mouse outside after photographing it, turned it loose, and came back in to find the cats asleep.

    Useless.
    My personal experience is much more like Grant's than yours. Our past cat Samantha (now deceased) was a fantastic mouser and kept the mouse population well in check. When she passed, there was a skyrocketing of the mouse population (they'd run across the my office floor while I was sitting there), until we got our current two, and then at least the visible mouse population plummeted. Not useless at all.

    And I think it is much more than "visible" mouse population, as mice leave lots of evidence of their existence even when you don't see them: chewed bags of food, stashes of food and nest materials, and droppings. All those signs basically disappeared when cats were around.

    The one cat toy experience was Ginger walking around the basement with her prize, and Maki trailing after her, like a kid wanting to know when she'd get a chance to play with the new toy.

    It does seem to be true that well feed domesticated cats more often play with mice and other animals as much as they eat them.

    One last thought Roger about your experience, having worked with animal rehabilitation folks for years: though it was nice that you rescued the baby mouse, it almost certainly died. Bite and crush injuries from cats are almost always fatal to small mammals and birds, and unless aggressively treated, the bites become infected.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    47,912
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I've never heard anyone suggest that cats are good ratters - that's a fairly serious undertaking for most domestic cats.
    As I understand it, that is why the terrier was "invented".
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    One last thought Roger about your experience, having worked with animal rehabilitation folks for years: though it was nice that you rescued the baby mouse, it almost certainly died. Bite and crush injuries from cats are almost always fatal to small mammals and birds, and unless aggressively treated, the bites become infected.
    Excuse me, I'm going to my room to cry for an hour.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    13,609
    The cat purring on my lap says she is NOT useless, and I agree. She's making me feel good just by being there. (Yes, it's the one who's been feeling poorly.)
    Our first two cats were outdoors and hunted EVERYTHING. Mice. Shrews, which they wouldn't eat. Even a star-nosed mole got deposited on the morning paper one day. Birdies, which on a couple of occasions got brought into the house and released while alive. And then there were the snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    13,609
    The cat purring on my lap says she is NOT useless, and I agree.&nbsp; She's making me feel good just by being there.&nbsp; (Yes, it's the one who's been feeling poorly.)<br>Our first two cats were outdoors and hunted EVERYTHING.&nbsp; Mice.&nbsp; Shrews, which they wouldn't eat.&nbsp; Even a star-nosed mole got deposited on the morning paper one day. Birdies, which on a couple of occasions got brought into the house and released while alive.&nbsp; And then there were the snakes.&nbsp; Why did it have to be snakes?

    ETA: Well, there's some forum weirdness for you. Wouldn't Post. Wouldn't post. Then it says message too short. And the above comes up. &nbsp!
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,425
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    And the people I've met who advocate protecting feral cat populations (instead of removing them) do so because they like and want to protect cats, not because they are trying to kill off rats.
    This. I've had two feral cats and my rational was I wanted those two cats nice looking cats and I didn't care if they were a "little feral". You can get to "safe for in the house", but you can't really get them back to domesticated. Feral cats are rough and tumble hunters. They will go after things you wouldn't expect them to go after. Like large dogs or deer. Not that they have a chance, but they will do the territorial display, which is sometimes enough to make another animal move off.

    Feral cats also have a noticeably shorter life span, five to seven years when other cats may live to their high teens. Deer will flee when a cat makes enough noise, but a large dog only avoids the cat because the owner makes them or they believe their owner would want them to move away. That is a downside, because the cat learns large animals always flee aggression, which is not remotely true.

    Getting a feral cat to target something in particular is hard. Much harder than extinguishing noxious behaviors, like biting people. My current feral cat has learned that she cannot bite my wife or kids, but she still bites me. Since I trained her not to bite others by picking her up, brushing her and then delivering a treat at the end, I have sent the message that I have control and when I stop, she gets a reward. Since I have to do the whole process regardless of her behavior, I have established that there is no downside to biting me. I haven't found an effective way to change the messaging, but she has lightened up and doesn't draw blood every time now. Nor would she do this to me while I was vulnerable, say sleeping. Her though process must be a game, but with little regard for damage to me.

    You are basically trying to introduce the idea of self-selectivity. Don't eat the baby, do eat the rat. I was able to train a different cat not to attack birds, then rabbits, then toads, and I gave up at mice. They are smart and do things for reasons beyond your knowledge or control.

    Domesticated cats have the same problem, but have lesser drives to attack anything in particular. They are not good hunters at all.
    Solfe

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Falls Church, VA (near Washington, DC)
    Posts
    8,232
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Snip...

    Domesticated cats have the same problem, but have lesser drives to attack anything in particular. They are not good hunters at all.
    My bold. I once saw a cat slink close to a squirrel, within what looked like easy striking distance, but then had a hitch in its charge which gave the squirrel the split second it needed to escape.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    13,609
    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    My bold. I once saw a cat slink close to a squirrel, within what looked like easy striking distance, but then had a hitch in its charge which gave the squirrel the split second it needed to escape.
    They get up close, then wiggle their back ends and make "ick, ick, ick" noises. The ones that hunt to eat probably learn not to do that.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,425
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    They get up close, then wiggle their back ends and make "ick, ick, ick" noises. The ones that hunt to eat probably learn not to do that.
    I would think that it is the other way around. The hunters don't do that, but house cats do because it serves a purpose. The don't know what to expect when engaging prey, so they let the prey go to avoid possible injury. The sounds are likely an extension of the play that the cat engages in with humans. It isn't a warning to the prey, it is just doing what it has learned is amusing to people. A hunting cat needs to maximize it's chances of winning, so spending energy on sound isn't done when stalking.

    Animals do notice cause and effect. A toy that drops a treat is different than prey. They probably watched you put the treat inside, so they know the toy isn't made of treats. If fed cat food, they don't really know that other animals are food, too. The stalking and noises are for fun and show in play.
    Solfe

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    1,662
    Have had many a cat and dog in my life. Both can be friend and/or fiend when it comes to helping or hurting (as in mouse catching, furniture scratching, house smelling/pooping, yard digging, needless barking, etc.) and each one is different in how they contribute or not. At the present time we're down to one cat which is a "good" one. He insists on doing his business outside (major plus), no accidents inside, a good mouser and moler (never birds), no scratching, hissing, biting, and surprisingly obedient for a cat. Plus, he's way too cute......

    IMG_20160712_104828 (1).jpg

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133

    Question

    Does this cat make me look fat?




    useless.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133
    Okay, this is weird. a scientific study of cat personalities. I have no idea what to say, except of course cats have personalities: evil, whiny, irritable, anxious, disgusting, etc. (IMHO).


    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ar...l.pone.0183455

    The ‘Feline Five’: An exploration of personality in pet cats (Felis catus)

    Carla A. Litchfield, et al. (August 23, 2017)

    The idea of animals possessing personalities was once dismissed by the scientific community, but has since gained traction with evidence for potential application to improve captive animal management and welfare. Although domestic cats are popular companion animals, research has tended to overlook the value of personality assessment for management and care of pet cats. The aim of this study was to investigate personality in a large sample of pet cats with a view to understanding practical implications for pet cats in the home. Personality of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand, was rated by their owners utilising a survey measuring 52 personality traits. Five reliable personality factors were found using principal axis factor analysis: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Dominance, Impulsiveness and Agreeableness. Implications for the ‘Feline Five’ are discussed in relation to their potential application to improving the management and welfare of pet cats. Highly Impulsive cats for example, may be reacting to something stressful in their environment, whereas cats with low Agreeableness scores, showing irritability may indicate underlying pain or illness. Thus, the need for a systematic and holistic approach to personality that includes both the individual pet cat and its environment is recommended, and opens the door to future interdisciplinary intervention.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Central Virginia
    Posts
    1,662
    I've never doubted it, they "seem" to express emotions too, esp dogs. Heck, I see separate personalities in my hens ;-)
    ....and no, you and kitty look swell together.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    And then there were the snakes.* Why did it have to be snakes?

    *!
    This past summer my cat decided to bring me a Copperhead while I was reading on the porch..... problem was she hadn't bothered to fully kill it. Angry, injured venomous snake deposited at my feet by proud feline equals porch got enclosed and screened in weeks later.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    2,984
    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    I've never doubted it, they "seem" to express emotions too, esp dogs. Heck, I see separate personalities in my hens ;-)
    Agree - it's not even a question in my mind. I have owned (or been owned!) by many cats and every one was distinctly different in nature, each with their own quirks & foibles.

    It is most strikingly evident with my last 2 cats, which came from the same litter and which we bought aged just 3 weeks, so they effectively had exactly the same upbringing their whole lives. Despite that, you would be hard pressed to find two cats as unalike as these two - they are polar opposites in personality.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,425
    Quote Originally Posted by ronin View Post
    This past summer my cat decided to bring me a Copperhead while I was reading on the porch..... problem was she hadn't bothered to fully kill it. Angry, injured venomous snake deposited at my feet by proud feline equals porch got enclosed and screened in weeks later.
    ooo... That is too much excitement!
    Solfe

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    1,133
    Cat peed in my house slippers last night, my good house slippers. I don't get no respect.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    16,671
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    They get up close, then wiggle their back ends and make "ick, ick, ick" noises. The ones that hunt to eat probably learn not to do that.
    Or, actually, they may just learn to do it properly. The technical term is "chattering", and various wild cat species have been observed imitating prey sounds - a margay imitating tamarin monkey calls from concealment for instance.

    Grant Hutchison
    Blog

    Note:
    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    16,671
    New Scientist has covered this story with the headline, "Cats are actually surprisingly bad at catching rats". To me, that's like saying, "Cats are actually surprisingly bad at flying". Who are these surprised people? Presumably mainly people who've never encountered a rat (and a small number who've never seen a cat).

    Grant Hutchison
    Blog

    Note:
    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Depew, NY
    Posts
    11,425
    I wonder how much a predator suppresses the visibility of vermin, making them less of an apparent problem. That seems like a very good middle ages style solution: "Witches float!"
    Solfe

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    4,320
    They know something we dont! Thats why they are always getting some rest in.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    13,609
    Not all rats are created equal. Brown rats, rattus norvegicus, are much bigger than black rats, r. rattus. And both, of course, come in a variety of colors. A good hunter could probably handle r. rattus, but not r. norvegicus.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    5,927
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I've had two feral cats and my rational was I wanted those two cats nice looking cats and I didn't care if they were a "little feral". You can get to "safe for in the house", but you can't really get them back to domesticated. Feral cats are rough and tumble hunters.
    I think it depends on the cats. We have two feral cats, both of whom are now very affectionate. One is actually among the most friendly cats I've known. We live in the woods, so they each showed up on our porch in the winter, looking for a place of refuge. It took a long time to get them to trust us (we'd set out cat food for them, and at first, we'd have to be back inside the house for half an hour before they'd dare to come back out of hiding and eat it), but I think that at this point they've decided that being a house cat with regular food and a warm place to stay is a way better deal than living out in the woods on their own.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    47,912
    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    I think it depends on the cats. We have two feral cats, both of whom are now very affectionate. One is actually among the most friendly cats I've known. We live in the woods, so they each showed up on our porch in the winter, looking for a place of refuge. It took a long time to get them to trust us (we'd set out cat food for them, and at first, we'd have to be back inside the house for half an hour before they'd dare to come back out of hiding and eat it), but I think that at this point they've decided that being a house cat with regular food and a warm place to stay is a way better deal than living out in the woods on their own.
    A friend of ours, living in a suburban town around here, was able to adopt a feral cat in her neighborhood and make him into a completely indoor pet. It literally took a couple of years of work, but he now lives contently indoors with her other two cats.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Southern Wisconsin
    Posts
    26
    Many years ago, I lived in the country and had a few "mouse control" outdoor cats. One female seemed to specialize in hunting and killing weasels, which she would leave on our doorstep. This was a cat not to be trifled with!

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •