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What is this cat doing? — 18 Comments

  1. I think using the mirror as the definitive test of self awareness is too strict. Everything is to a degree. I think cats simply don’t understand mirrors. The reflection is realistic enough for the cat to perceive the image is real – it’s that simple. Awareness is more subjective. For example, when any animal does anything with respect to it’s environment, it has to have a sense of being there. Moreover, when an animal, and cats do this, sees itself through YOUR eyes, that’s an addition step in perception – they are conceptualizing outside of themselves about themselves. Only humans and some monkeys are able to use a mirror, and frankly I don’t recognize my old self in the mirror anymore, so to keep measuring animals on that standard and putting them down because they don’t live up to it is de-anthromoporphizing and inhibits further study… it’s speciesism and not studying animals for what they are, but what they aren’t. We know they aren’t human, I don’t know why most of us have to keep beating that drum.

    • Albert, what do you think that this cat sees when he sees himself in the mirror? You think he sees another cat or do you think he’s confused by what he sees in the mirror and is uncertain about what it all means?

      • Thanks for asking; you might regret it. First, we all have to build our perception of the world. Humans have both the necessity and luxury of having years of protected and guided learning. Animals/cats don’t, though they constantly have to access their database to make sense of what’s going on around them, their survival being top priority, so they’re born with certain givens and not givens to help make sense from day one. We, being definitely self-aware, have an interest in how we look. We are so self-interested that we have difficulty empathizing, and if another’s view of the world doesn’t make sense to us, we either put it in the box labeled question mark, or trash. Cats don’t have that luxury – they have to make sense of everything. I think when they see a mirror, at first they definitely see another cat. Some stop there, deal with it that way and either play with it or posture against it and file it away as a brief but not for sure encounter. Others perceive something out of the ordinary; the ordinary being all the other encounters they’ve made in life. I’ve seen many play or posture reactions, and others who seem to discover that it at least isn’t real (like television images) and walk away. We like to categorize things simply, but life isn’t all this or that, black or white. Everything is to some degree, especially when we remember reality is in our heads. Some cats are more perceptive than others, as people are. This one, as I said before, seems to serendipitously by way of it’s higher than average cautious and curious manner, perceive it’s reflection as a possible second cat, but with some doubt, hence the second look and the ‘wave the paw’ experiment. I don’t know what he took away from it except that he’s not convinced what it was. His life experience tells him it looks like another cat, but it moves exactly like him. Doesn’t fit. Scientifically, and with great integrity to demand the truth and knowing he can’t definitively shove this in a box and label it, he walks away with a troubled but still open mind. Something many humans haven’t the humility to do, including scientists.

  2. To me it looks like the cat while gaining balance saw the cat image and just got curious, maybe hoping for a potential new friend; however he has to assume a cat fighting stance to see in the mirror. lets see that again-cat looks friendly but?

    • Interesting thoughts Eva. What you are saying is that he does not see himself but another cat and therefore is not being self-aware. That would concur with the scientific viewpoint.

    • I agree, Eva. As for “Gail”, I searched and found “her” comments on the prior thread ‘Owning a Cat Can Tell Others a Lot about You…’ and I see that “she” is indeed James Munn Stevenson aka Woodsman001 aka Woody the internet troll. There’s no mistaking his rhetoric.

  3. I’m not trying to compliment anyone, but it would be a safe guess you don’t get many, Gail. I don’t know what you’re doing here, but I think it would behoove you to close your mouth and open your mind, or you’re just going to be a pain in the behind.

  4. Scientists are also quick to admit they know little about cats. What they say they do know, is usually negative… that cats don’t think, feel or do anything with purpose or comprehension. My impression is that this cat extended his paws to help balance himself. Then, as he saw that the cat in the mirror did the same exact thing, he was both perplexed and fascinated, and purposely waved to see if the mirror cat would do it again. This cat is a scientist in his own right.

    • Anthropomorphizing your own thoughts down to that of the level of a cat’s reptilian-brain-stem-controlled behavior is neither complimentary to yourself, nor the cat.

      • Rather than insulting people for the hell of it to try and provoke a response (pathetic) why don’t you use your brain to figure out what this cat is doing as asked.

        • Gail (AKA Woody) can’t do that. You’re asking it to use a part of its brain that has rotted away. Nothing’s left but venom in there now.

  5. It does look like that cat is testing his reflection in order to determine if that’s really him in the mirror. My Turkish Angora Angel would dance and play with her reflection in the mirror. She was apparently self-aware and I saw her perform the same actions.

    • Thanks Serbella. I’d like to see scientists comment on this behavior because they say that cats are not self-aware. I am not sure they are right.

      • You’re welcome, Michael. I’m not sure they’re right either. I think self-awareness depends on the individual cat. These are the same geniuses who at one time claimed that little baby boys didn’t feel pain so it was okay to circumcise them without painkillers.

      • Scientists are once again quite wrong. One of my previous cats was very self-aware. From the first day he saw a mirror as a kitten, he walked around and looked behind it. As soon as he realized it was just a flat surface, he lost interest in his reflection. After that, he knew it was him.

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