Scientists looking for volunteers to watch cat videos, interpret pets’ behavior

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Scientists are looking for volunteers to take part in a study that requires them to watch cat videos and interpret the felines’ body language and interactions.

Researchers at the University of California Davis and the University of British Columbia want to recruit people who have exactly two cats for their experiment in hopes that it will determine whether an average owner can interpret cat-to-cat interactions.

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The volunteers will be required to watch a series of 10 videos “showcasing various types of positive and negative cat-cat interactions,” the researchers said in the study’s design outline. They will then be asked to rate the behaviors on a scale from extremely positive to extremely negative.

They will also be asked about their own cats and how often their pets show similar behaviors.

Once the data is collected, the researchers will compare the responses to those given by trained cat behavior specialists with PhDs to determine whether typical pet owners have trouble interpreting cat body language.

The aim of the study is to better help cat owners understand their cats, according to the scientists.

To be eligible to partake in the study, a person must have exactly two cats, live in the US or Canada, and be over the age of 18.

“The welfare of cats in the home is an under-researched area,” study researcher Sherry Khoddami, a student at British Columbia’s Applied Animal Biology Program, told science website Gizmodo in an email.

“From providing access to resources (such as food, water, litter, perches, resting areas, and more) to recognizing problem behaviors between their cats and interfering when necessary. We want to know how knowledgeable owners are of the resources their cats need and at identifying positive and negative behaviors displayed by their cats.”

“Ultimately, we hope this research can help identify gaps in owners’ knowledge of cat behavior. The misconception that cats are independent and like to be left alone is outdated, and we need to provide cat-owners with more educational resources to ensure their cats’ welfare in the home,” she said.

“As people adopt more pets during these hard times, it’s key for shelters, veterinarians, and other professionals to give cat owners access to these resources.”

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