There is no description available for this video. The cat, whose name is Margot (I believe), stands to attention when the Russian national anthem is played. Margot has either learned to do this through observing human behaviour such as the Russian military parades, perhaps on television, or she has been trained to do it by her owner. The more cynical amongst us might decide she has been trained. I favour learning by observation.
Our domestic cats learn by observing us and what happens around us. This is quite natural because we know that cats learn how to hunt from their mother in the wild. We know that cats are good observational learners. There is well known video of a cat boxing while watching a boxing match. It appeared to be a stark example of the domestic cat learning human behavior from the television.
I quote from the excellent book, “The Welfare of Cats” edited by Irene Rochlitz:
“Laboratory studies have revealed that cats are excellent observational learners. For example, they can learn arbitrary tasks that do not involve skills their ancestors needed to survive, simply by watching another cat complete the task. This ability is clearly relevant to kittens to rapidly learn hunting skills from their mother.”
The classic example of a mother teaching her kittens how to hunt is by bringing live prey back to the den when the kittens are about 4 weeks of age. The prey is released in the presence of the kittens whereupon the mother demonstrates hunting techniques on the prey. The kittens then practice these observed skills while their mother supervises them.
Kittens are more readily socialised in human households if their mother is present and calm during the process. No doubt the kittens observe their mother and the fact that she is calm when handled by humans and follows suit.
Most learning is from mother but adult males are involved too. More research needs to be done on social learning in kittens. This may prove to be a very important aspect of the life of domestic cats in the future because cats also learn from observing us who they treat as fellow cats.
Perhaps cat owners should be more aware that their cat may be learning by watching them. This certainly applies in raising children but it may also be of some relevance in respect of the domestic cat as well.
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