Journal Article Do cats (Felis catus) predict the presence of an invisible object from sound?

Takagi, Saho  ,  Chijiiwa, Hitomi  ,  Arahori, Minori  ,  Tsuzuki, Mana  ,  Hyuga, Ayami  ,  Fujita, Kazuo

Available online 17 July 2015
Recognizing invisible entities from auditory information is advantageous to animals in various situations including predator avoidance and foraging. In 2 experiments we asked whether cats could predict the presence of an unseen object on hearing noise it made, based on a causal-logical rule. After observing an experimenter shaking an opaque container for 15 seconds (observation phase), the cats freely explored the environment for 15 seconds (response phase). Experiment 1 tested 3 conditions. In the first, “contingent noise” condition, the object inside the container made a rattling noise when shaken. In the second, “irrelevant noise” condition, white noise accompanied the shaking action. In the third, “no noise” condition, the shaking action was silent. Experiment 2 tested a “noncontingent noise” condition, in which the rattling noise and movement of the container were out of synchrony. In both experiments cats looked at the container for longer in the “contingent noise” condition than the other conditions. These results suggest that cats used a causal-logical understanding of auditory stimuli to predict the presence of invisible objects. This ability may be related to the ecology of cats' natural hunting style.

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