Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Voodoo Kitty

I've recently made a worrying discovery: my kitty is practising magic on me. And we're not talking about rabbit-out-of-a-hat, no-it's-up-your-other-sleeve trickery; we're talking real spooky stuff.

See, over time there have been various people in the family who fed this cat, and one time it was me. For a couple of weeks, if he heard me moving, he'd run towards his foodbowl and I'd obediently trot along behind him. He's apparently never forgotten this. And, in accordance with the fundamental magical principle of sympathy, every time he wants me to feed him he runs in front of me in an attempt to supernaturally "drag" me towards the tin of kitty biscuits.

A similar behaviour has been observed in pigeons. If you feed them at effectively random intervals, they'll associate whatever action they were performing at the time with food. It has been demonstrated (readable summary here) that this can lead to all sorts of weird behaviour - little "rain dances" that the pigeons perform to attract food.

It's fascinating to me to see such a very human form of insanity emerge in lower animals. And in a way, it's kinda reassuring. We as a species may be barking mad, but at least we're not alone.

And finally, the obligatory LolCat:


Maybe I oughta feed that cat before he gets too irritated...

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