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Sometimes in the circus program we see cats who, it seems to us, know arithmetic. In fact, the trainer gives them some kind of signal, to which the cat reacts in anticipation of a reward. It often happens that the owner of the cat gives her a sign without even realizing it, for example, by movements of the facial muscles, and attributes the ability to count to the unusually high intelligence of the cat.
Scientists believe that cats have some abstract concept of counting to about 7, that is, a cat can count to 6 or 7, although perhaps only to 3 or 4. The claim is based on the observation that the cat notices the missing kitten and goes in search. Although it is possible that she distinguishes kittens by smell and feels the absence of any smell.
While the kittens are very tiny, they probably do not yet have an individual smell, in which case the mother most likely determines their number by sounds that have such a frequency that the human ear does not perceive them. But it is not excluded that the cat has a feeling of some kind of "wrong" in the absence of one kitten.
One of the researchers conducted such an experiment. He tossed to his cat other people's kittens of the same age as her own, and he did it unnoticed by the mother. The kittens' scents were mixed and masked by his own. The cat immediately began to examine the kittens and seemed to realize that their number was not the same as before.
Sometimes she seemed to be counting them several times, visually or by smell, and looks puzzled that the result of this “ roll call” does not meet her expectations, despite the fact that the smells seem to be “ correct”.
Many have heard of the Persian cat named Cutie Boy, who is a recognized mathematician cat. His talent for mathematics was discovered when he was still a kitten. Eyewitnesses claim that he can add, divide, multiply, subtract, find the square root, and solve algebraic problems.
Cutie Boya bought Hema Mohan Chandra from Kerala at a pet store in Dubai, which is also his handler at exhibitions. Her son Renjit found that the kitten understood and followed various commands. Hema says that the cat can show such concepts as " yes", " no", " right", " left" and that he answers "yes”when asked if he can count. Cutie Boy gives answers by touching her muzzle to the hostess's face. If the number is too large, then special answer cards are used. The cat chooses the card with the correct answer, looking at it and twitching its tail. To convince skeptics of Cutie Boy's abilities, the owners brought in a math teacher. Unfortunately, Cutie Boy had to part ways with her family to perform in public.
But what is really going on? This phenomenon is called subconscious signaling. Some cats are adept at reading the signals of the human body, even when the person is not aware that they are transmitting some information using body language. The truth was revealed by studying horses that know how to count, that is, they beat their hoof the right number of times in response to an arithmetic problem. The animals reacted to the subtle movements of the trainer.
The trainer mentally gave the command to hit the hoof again. This mental expectation was reflected in the micromovements of the body and face, and for each such signal, the horse kicked its hoof. Sometimes the trainer did not even realize that he was giving a signal. Probably the same can be said about the owners of Cutie Boy.
Studies have shown that when a person controlled his body movements or when a stranger worked with an animal, his ability to arithmetic was lost. If the trainer himself did not know the correct answer (or he was deliberately given the wrong result of the problem), then the animal also answered incorrectly. The animal is taught to choose the correct card with the answer in the same way - by giving imperceptible signals, meaning " right" and " left".
Cutie Boy also understands phrases in 8 languages, including Gujarati, Persian, Malayalam (Hema's native language), English, Arabic and French, and can recognize objects named in these languages. But this is not a proof of the outstanding linguistic or supernatural abilities of the cat. It's just that the cat relies on the owner's unconscious signals, regardless of the language in which he speaks. Mathematical, linguistic, and other supernatural abilities in animals are poorly manifested under controlled conditions. Owners believe that this is due to the excitement of the animal, but in reality it simply does not have the ability to receive a signal.
Cutie Boy's reluctance to speak in public is probably due to the fact that it is difficult for him to concentrate on the owner's signal, when both the owner and the cat itself are distracted. Despite the widespread publicity, the Cutie Boy is not a " mathematical miracle." He just has a talent for reading the language of the human body, and he performs tricks that were exposed 100 years ago. Cutie Boy is just the " Smart Hans" of the XXI century.
Note: The most famous mathematician animal is a horse named Clever Hans, owned by Berliner William von Osten. Hans could solve various mathematical problems and even knew fractions! He hit the correct answers with his hoof.
Article on the topic Thinking, consciousness and self-awareness of a cat (part 12)
The horse first appeared in public in 1891, and the scientists observing him concluded that no signals were given to him, and there was no deception in the performance. The impression was also made by the fact that the horse performed equally well both in the presence of the owner and without him.
In 1904, psychologist Oscar Pfangst began to study the horse, who noticed that if no one among the public knows the correct answer, then the animal does not know it either. If Hans had his eyes closed, or the person asking the question was standing very far away, then the horse did not give the correct answer either. The psychologist concluded that the horse is receiving some kind of signals from the person asking the question.
Carefully observing the correspondent offering Hans a problem, the psychologist noticed that when giving the assignment, he slightly tilted his head. This served as a signal for the horse to start being a hoof. When Hans arrived at the correct answer, the agitated reporter looked up and smiled. At the same moment, Hans stopped kicking! Clever Hans read the language of the human body.
Another example is Lady Wonder, a horse with telepathic powers. Lady Wonder knew how to touch with her lips the metal letters hanging in her stall, thus forming words that were the answers to questions asked to her. In 1927, the horse was tested by Professor J.B. Ryan. Two years later, testing failed and the professor concluded that the horse had lost its supernatural powers.
The Cat Cutie Boy is just the modern feline equivalent of Clever Hans and Lady Wonder.