• 승인 2019.05.14 20:25
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We all think we know our cats. They are often portrayed as wily, self interested-ereatures that do precisely what they feel like doing. But cats are : no more self-interested than any other animal - evolution quickly sidelines those who don't look out for themselves. And in fact, recent discoveries by molecular geneticists, veterinary scientists and animal behaviourists have overturned much of what we thought we knew about this familiar animal. So, if you think your cat is a calculating mind-reader beyond your control, you're in for a surprise... 



The Surprising Truth is that cats are just as good at learning as dogs are, so it  should be possible to train them, although few people do. Partly this is because the cat's traditional function, hunting and killing vermin, comes naturally to them, and they are actually more successful at this when left to their own devices. Untrained dogs, on the other hand, are more of a hindrance than a help. 


However, the fundamental difference behind the two species is not in how good they are at learning, but in what motivates them to learn. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are unique in that they find human attention rewarding in its own right. They focus almost obsessively on what their trainers are doing. It means their behaviour can be shaped by following a desired behaviour with a pat on the head, say, or ignoring them when they do something else instead. Dogs can, of course, also be trained using food as a reward, but for most cats (Felis catus), this is the only reward that will work consistently. Indeed, the easiest trick to train a cat to perform is to 'beg' for its food, as countless YouTube videos attest.


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