In their continuing quest to dominate all of humanity, it appears that cats have a new weapon: Physics.
In a research paper published in the journal Animal Cognition, researchers used 22 cats from Japanese cat cafes and eight domestic cats in separate rooms to test their ability to understand gravity.
Researchers used a plastic container filled with three iron balls that was rigged with an electromagnet; turning a switch trapped the balls, restricting their movement and rendering the container silent.
The researchers termed an event with no sound and no object or a sound and an object a “congruent condition” that matched with physical laws. Events where there were no sound but the appearance of the object or sound but no object defied physical laws and were termed “incongruent conditions.”
Congruent conditions: Shaking the cup and producing a rattling sound; flipping the cup over and having the balls drop out, or no sound produced and no balls dropped. Incongruent conditions: No sound when the cup was shook, but a ball dropping out; or rattling the ball, but not dropping one. (Basically, they acclimated the cats to expect certain relationships between the sound and events that were linked to them.)
They made the cats sit and watch these various events and filmed their reactions.
What they discovered was that cats stared at the container for longer periods of time during incongruent conditions, leading the study’s author, Saho Takagi, to conclude that “Cats use a causal-logical understanding of noise or sounds to predict the appearance of invisible objects.” (The “incongruent conditions” violated the cats’ expected understanding of the situation they’d been conditioned to expect.)
However, since this is the first study of its kind, there were no results to compare, and Takagi hopes to devise another study to further gauge cats’ understanding.
The cats, meanwhile, continue to plot.