Steadicam Cats

This is an interesting video for cat aficionados. I have called the post “Steadicam Cats” because all cats do it (and owls). Steadicams are devices that film makers use to stabilize a motion picture camera that is being carried by a cameraman. The device prevents the camera from jerking around. The camera remains focused on the subject matter no matter what the person carrying it is doing. You often see them used at sports events when a competitor is being filmed and the cameraman is almost jogging by the side of the person he is filming.

I think it is a neat video because it tells us something about the skills of the cat. I don’t recall seeing anything in the books that discusses this aspect of the cat’s anatomy and behavior.

Thinking about it, it must be for one reason. Almost all of the evolutionary aspects of the cat come down to predation, making the cat a better and more efficient predator because that is all about survival. The cat is probably the world’s best predator.

When a cat stalks prey he moves slowly into position finding cover where he can. The cat’s eyes are fixed on the prey. The completely natural and “inbuilt” steadicam anatomical feature clicks in and allows the eyes to remain focused on the prey no matter what obstacle the cat has to climb over.

I suspect that the part of the cat’s anatomy that is working so well when a cat is in steadicam mode is the inner ear, the vestibular system. This is a three dimensional structure which senses movement in three dimensions keeping the cat in balance. Humans have the same structure. The structure is made of tubes containing fine hairs and a liquid. Movement of the cat causes the liquid to move, which in turn causes the hairs to move in a certain way. As the hairs are connected to the nervous system and the brain the information is processed and corrections made.

You will also see a variation on this skill. When a cat is preparing to jump to a difficult position – the jump is tricky because the landing area is small or there are obstacles around it – he will move his head from side to side slightly. This allows the cat to get a better three dimensional view of the target area to measure the distance and landing area more accurately.

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Steadicam Cats — 3 Comments

  1. It is surely a system dependant on a focus point. I wonder what would happen if the cat just took it more as a sort of ‘ride’. I think it’s almost impossible not to focus on one or a series of things when being moved in a such a way, perhaps as a means of keeping track of everything around.

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