HomeCat Behaviorself-awareAre Cats Self Aware?


Are Cats Self Aware? — 11 Comments

  1. A cat being a cat probably walks past the mirror, glances at the mirror, sees its reflection and thinks to itself, “yeah, that’s me” and carries on. This would be especially true if humans were in the room trying to prove the cat wasn’t self-aware by the mirror tests. Cats are like that! All the mirror test can tell you is whether or not the subject recognizes itself in a mirror. How often in nature does the concept of a mirror show up? Now, as it happens, one of my cats used to stare at the TV if I had a camcorder plugged in and stuck in the cat’s face 🙂

    • Thanks John. My personal experience tells me that when cats look at themselves in a mirror they don’t see themselves. They may see another cat.

  2. I know my story about the collar could be mistaken for an anecdote and by no means do I think cats are fully self aware, but it really seems like it sometimes, the mirror test should not be enough or not the only way to make a judgment on self awareness, I think with some animals other procedures may need to be used,it might need to be species oriented, some animals look at other animals or situations very differently.

    • I agree with you and I also believe that we have a long way to go before we fully understand animals and give them due credit. We underestimate them. We are improving but we have a legacy ignorance and arrogance with respect our relationship with animals.

  3. We put a collar on Fritter when he was a kitten, after a few months he started pulling it off, at first it was once or twice a week then sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, one time he was in the hallway I watched him pull the collar off as I started to go pick it up he ran a few feet away and then turned looked at me then at the collar, came back grabbed it in his mouth ran past me, we did not find the collar for a couple years. so was it self aware of him to make the connection to come back for the collar and then to hide it so I could not put it on him again?

  4. Agreed, she may be just testing the waters, BUT her behavior is so beyond what most cats typically do (attack or attempt to play with their reflection). She’s carefully studying the reflection, AND has at least shown that she has enough intelligence to test whether her movements are being reflected. Whether or not she’s realized that it is herself, we honestly can’t be sure of (she MAY have, and just been like “oh, ok… that’s NOT another or different cat.” Or perhaps “Is that ME, doing that?”). You’d think though, that since she seems to realize that her movements ARE being reflected, as she clearly goes out of her way to extend both paws, then mostly just the right paw, specifically and deliberately, (that at least to us humans), the only conclusions left, would be, “that’s me in the mirror…I just moved my right paw, and the image before me is moving exactly in line with it.” One thing I think has certainly been shown here, and that this is one pretty smart cat…

    • BUT her behavior is so beyond what most cats typically do

      I agree that. It is very unusual. I get your point. It is very close to evidence of self-awareness. I firmly believe there is more going on in the cat’s brain than we realise.

    • Thanks Michael. Excellent. Fascinating video. The cat seems to be testing what he is seeing in the mirror to check if it is him. His moves his paw and looks in the mirror to see if his paw moves in the mirror. That is what it looks like to me. I am not sure it proves that cats are self aware though. In fact he looks confused. If he knew it was a reflection of himself he would not be confused.

  5. Some of the above comments make sense to me, my cat knows he is the one in the mirror, if he didnt he would hiss and growl at it and would probably attack it, the fact hes not interested in staring at himself tells us more about the fact that many scientists fail to think logically and wish to intepret other animals behaviour by a set of rules based upon human psychology, it seems like they need to get out of the box and think a bit bigger. My cat knows what he wants and has unique noises he makes when he wants certian things. Play toy = meeew, Want food = meow, want nicer food = prrr meow, irritated because you stopped me doing something I like = ppppprrrrr, pppppprrrrrr, etc etc…

    We still for the most part regard ourselves as the most intelligent animals on earth but some apes can solve puszzles which make humans look dumb, maybe we need to smarten up.

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