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Behavior Science Blog

My webinar notes are written out and sketched on my ipad Pro using the notability app. I welcome feedback, questions, discussion, corrections. Some of these notes may be reworked into infographics in the future.


Are These Cats Playing?

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

I keep asking myself if Mambo and Shimmy are "playing or fighting" when they get into dramatic interactions, and I am learning that this may not be the right question to ask. I think I am developing a good intuition about whether their interaction needs my intervention or not, but I am still not sure how to describe what is happening before my eyes, like if I were to transcribe the kitties' conversation into human language, how would I do it? Yes I know there are changing emotions minute by minute but what are these emotions?? (Allow me to enjoy a bit of anthropomorphism!)

The term "play" is fuzzy in cat science literature. Also "play" suggests that fun is being had and this isn't always the case. And yet sometimes I know that Mambo and Shimmy are not quite "fighting" either. I mean, they look like they could be having an argument but in a sort of restrained way (nobody is hurt or super upset or trying to leave).

Feel free to comment!

I really enjoyed this paper by Noema Kmecova , Barbara Pet'kova , Jana Kottferova, Lenka Skurkova and Daniel Mills. I learned a lot! And I am excited that perhaps this paper will fuel more research into cat metasignals and cat "social play" behavior? Could cats have appeasement behaviors we don't know about yet?

Video about this paper on Cat Play:

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