Table of contents:
Video: Thinking, Consciousness And Self-awareness Of The Cat (part 12)
So do cats have a mind? Of course, they cannot think in our, human understanding of the word, but they have access to mental processing of the information entering the brain, on the basis of which they make a decision about their further actions.
They have internal ideas about the material world around them, they perceive certain physical laws (for example, that objects do not cease to exist when they are not visible to the eye), they have a good sense of time, they can identify other cats, some people and a number of items.
Intelligence has been defined by humans and is judged by human ability. Children are taught to look where the finger is pointing. For cats, if you point to an object, the cat will look at your finger, not where it is pointing. To draw the cat's attention to an object, you need to touch the object itself.
One of the parameters of intellectual development is self-awareness. A popular test for self-awareness is the observation of how an object (human or animal) reacts to its reflection in a mirror. Humans and great apes recognize themselves in it. If you smear paint on a baby's nose or chimpanzee's face and let them look in a mirror, both the baby and the monkey will try to wipe the stain off their face, not the mirror.
If you put the mirror in front of the cat, then at first she looks for an unfamiliar animal hiding behind the mirror, but soon realizes that the cat in the mirror is not real and ignores her. (Such disregard is necessary, otherwise the cat would not be able to drink water, seeing its reflection in it). Unlike humans and great apes, the cat does not understand that the reflection in the mirror is itself.
Cat behavior researcher Satch Scofield has a different perspective on the definition of self-awareness in cats. She suggests that the mirror test is not applicable to cats, as it does not provide an objective assessment of the way of thinking of non-social subjects such as cats.
The hypothesis is that the cat loses interest in the reflection in the mirror, since it perceives it as another cat that does not try to interact with the first one. Sacha believes that the cat perceives the image in the mirror as a reflection of the real world and uses it to observe objects that are out of sight.
The researcher observed how her own cats sometimes look at each other or observe the owner, looking in the mirror. Sometimes the cat, meeting its eyes with the owner's reflection, began to meow in greeting, indicating that it recognized the image.
After moving into a new home, one of her cats, 15-year-old Flossie, began to frequently use a mirror to observe family members. She looks through the mirror from the hallway to the bedroom and vice versa. She may have used a mirror to compensate for her deafness, and to determine if another cat was approaching from behind.
To understand whether the cat perceives the mirror correctly, it is placed in front of it, and a researcher stands behind it. What does the cat react to - to the gestures of a person reflected in the mirror or turns to him real? It is difficult to understand anything here, since the cat can also react to the sound made by the researcher when gesturing.
Sacha believes that the cat is not interested in its reflection, as it is indifferent to its own appearance. Objects that recognize themselves in the mirror, such as humans, monkeys and parrots, are social creatures, and many of their capabilities depend on physical attractiveness to other members of the species. People with little interest in attracting attention to themselves and in their social position have a relatively low interest in their appearance.
Related article on Senility and Cognitive Loss in Cats (Part 13)
In the hierarchy of cats, good health and physical endurance are the main place, not good looks. Unlike species that perceive their own kind through sight, cats perceive the world through a mixture of smells, sounds, sight and touch (using vibrissae). They are better suited for observing a moving object than a stationary one.
Sacha believes that if a cat recognizes itself in the mirror, then, as a non-social animal, it does not have the motivation to react to its reflection.
Just because a cat is considered self-conscious according to classical science does not mean that it has no intelligence. Her intelligence is within the feline ecological niche and is limited by physical capabilities and innate behavior (instinct).
The innate behavior is programmed by the brain so that the individual can survive and so that the areas of the brain that are responsible for the thinking process are released. Over the course of its life, your cat sharpens its instincts and learns a lot that evolution has not provided - open doors, master various tricks (if your time and patience allows), recognize the sound of your car's engine, and wake you up at a certain time every morning.