There’s no ball without noise: cats’ prediction of an object from noise

I am going to translate into layman’s language the title and the quote below both of which are taken from a scientific study.

Cat hunting
Cat hunting
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Cats used a causal-logical understanding of auditory stimuli to predict the appearance of invisible objects. The ecology of cats’ natural hunting style may favor the ability for inference on the basis of sounds.

My interpretation is that cats can do what observant cat owners know they can do. It is this: cats can decide that an object – living or dead but creating noise and moving – exists even though they can’t see it and then predict where the object (it’ll be prey normally) will appear even though they have only heard its presence.

I believe I have that correct. And it makes sense from a hunting standpoint. Cats usually hunt at dawn and dusk but sometimes at night and in the daytime. A lot of the time they won’t see their prey. They will hear sounds and their ears are highly attuned to detect the precise location of that sound. As the sound moves, the cat is able to predict the prey’s path and where it will be in the immediate future.

This is my expanded interpretation of this study’s findings. The news media has titles such as: “Cats CAN understand physics: Felines use noise cues and ‘cause and effect’ to detect hidden prey….”

But this not about understanding physics. This about a natural, given skill, inherent of the domestic cat to instinctively be able to locate prey and predict its movement (speed and direction) through the sounds it emits, either vocally or by the sound of its body against undergrowth and so on.

A domestic cat has to be able to do this to be an effective hunter.

Sometimes cats will hear conflicting sounds and receive conflicting information. Under these circumstances the cat will observe (visual and auditory) more intently (stare longer) until he makes sense of the received information.

Okay, that is it. My comment is that this confirms what careful observers of cats know, namely that domestic cats are top quality hunters. They are one of the world’s best predators. It should come as no surprise that the cat is able to use sound effectively in conjunction with sight to catch prey efficiently.

Source: There’s no ball without noise: cats’ prediction of an object from noise – Online First – Springer

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