Cats Understand Basic Laws Of Physics, According To Study

Don't expect to see this anytime soon. Kisialiou Yury/Shutterstock
Robin Andrews 15 Jun 2016, 17:31

Cats are smart, furry psychopaths – this much is clear. These tiny neurotic lions seek dominance in every single situation that they’re presented with; although some are frightened of cucumbers, most see us as either rubbish kittens or pathetic landlords. They have even evolved to recognize their owner’s voice, but they frequently choose to ignore it.

Writing in the journal Animal Cognition, a team of scientists from Kyoto University suggest that perhaps we have not yet even begun to fully comprehend the scope of the oft-malevolent intellect of these ferocious felines. Based on how cats seem to understand that rattling boxes have hidden objects inside them, the researchers have come to the rather fanciful conclusion that they are acutely aware of some of the laws of physics.

Clearly, though, they don’t mean that cats can tell the difference between Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravitational attraction, and it’s highly doubtful that they even care about the monumental discovery of gravitational waves.


This kitten probably has no idea whatsoever how to use a microscope. Kachalkina Veronika/Shutterstock

Instead, the researchers mean that cats appear to be able to understand “cause and effect,” the notion that a noise or motion has resulted from a previous action. Essentially, cats appear to be able to predict the existence of invisible objects based on what they can hear, which may partly explain why they’re such good hunters.

“This study may be viewed as evidence for cats having a rudimentary understanding of gravity,” the authors write, completely nonchalantly. Rather beautifully, they point out the novel nature of their work, saying that “We have found no [previous] study specifically testing knowledge of this fundamental physical rule in cats.”

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