TIME animals

This Highly Coordinated Cat Knows How to Use a Water Cooler

Probably its first step toward inevitable world domination

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This cat is smarter and more agile than most humans we know. Watch as it deftly determines how to operate a water cooler.

TIME animals

Scaredy Cat So Freaked By The Outdoors He Tries To Hide In Stranger’s Bag [VIDEO]

It's the great indoors for this cat

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They call it the great outdoors, but when you’re a house cat who has never stepped foot outside before, it may not seem so great.

Take the cat in this video making the rounds on the web this morning. The cat’s owner thought it would be nice to take the pet for a walk in the fresh air. The owner hooked his furry friend up to a leash and took him outside for the first time ever. Instead of being overjoyed at his first foray into the open, the cat is overwhelmed to the point of agoraphobic. His first instinct appears to be to impersonate an ostrich, burying his head, not in the sand, but in a passing stranger’s handbag.

Some cats are just meant to be avid indoorsmen.

MORE: You Will Barely Recognize This Abandoned Dog After His Much Needed Haircut

MORE: This Dog Was So Excited to Be Reunited With Its Owner That It Passed Out

TIME Vietnam

Vietnam Cat Owners Must Live With Fear of Pets Getting Stolen and Eaten

VIETNAM-FOODS-ANIMALS
A cook prepares a dish with cat meat at a restaurant in Hanoi on This picture taken on May 13, 2014. AFP/Getty Images

"It’s sweeter and tenderer than dog meat"

In Asia, there’s a growing demand for quirky cat cafés where customers can enjoy tea or coffee in the company of domesticated felines. But in Vietnam, the concept of cat cafés would likely take on a very different meaning — one that any cat lover would find abominable.

Despite an official ban on eating cats, restaurants in the Southeast Asian nation still offer the forbidden meat on their menus, reports Agence France-Presse. In fact, the consumption of felines appears to be rising, prompting cat owners to fear for their pets’ safety.

“Eating cat meat is better than eating dog as the meat is more sweet, more tender than a dog,” said chef Le Ngoc Thien.

According to AFP, at one central Hanoi restaurant the cats are drowned, shaved and burned to remove their fur before being butchered and fried with garlic. A snack of cat meat is colloquially known as little tiger, and typically served with beer and eaten at the beginning of the lunar month.

Thien says the demand for cat meat grows each year. “When I first started working here, I was surprised so many people ate cat,” he said. “But now, fine, they like it.”

It’s this growing demand that has pet owners worried. Cats sell for $50 to $70, depending on the size — a hefty sum for many in the impoverished nation. While cat traders claim to breed the animals legitimately, there are hardly any regulations in place to verify this, opening the proverbial cat-flap for pets to be stolen to keep up with demand.

“My family is sad because we spend a lot of time and energy raising our cats,” cat owner Phuong Thanh Thuy, who keeps the animals to catch rats and regularly loses some to thieves, told AFP. “When we lose a cat, we feel pain.”

[AFP]

TIME animal behavior

Hey, Did I See You Petting Another Dog?

Who were you seeing last night? And do NOT lie to me.
Who were you seeing last night? And do NOT lie to me. Stefanie Timmermann—Vetta/Getty Images

Man's best friend takes that BFF thing seriously. Pay too much attention to a dog other than your own and you'd better be prepared to explain yourself when you get home.

If the science of animal behavior had an official curse word, it would be “anthropomorphism.” That’s just a fancy term for the sin of assigning human qualities to animals. Your dog might look happy and your cat might seem disdainful, but since you most likely think of your pet as a little person already, your judgements are automatically suspect. You see what you want to see, and that is the opposite of scientific.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always wrong. It turns out that one rigorous scientific experiment after another has shown that some animals do have mental states that are surprisingly similar to ours. They exhibit altruism, empathy, and a sense of justice, for example. They can plan and execute deliberate deception. They may experience true grief as well.

And now, says a new report in the journal PLOS ONE, we can add jealousy to the mix too. That’s a surprising conclusion for one very big reason. Lead author Christine Harris, of the University of California, San Diego, is a psychologist who usually studies human behavior, and among humans, the conventional wisdom has been that jealousy requires a sense of self-esteem that can be damaged. That’s something animals are unlikely to have.

But it’s also possible, Harris suspected, that all jealousy, human and otherwise, is a more fundamental emotion like fear or lust. If so, it’s presumably a product of evolution, and should exist in some form in species other than our own.

She and her co-author, Caroline Prouvost, set out to test that proposition, and they had some existing data to build on. Several studies, they note, have suggested that infants as young as six months old show evidence of jealousy even though they presumably haven’t developed a sense of self-esteem. In those studies, the babies got upset when their mothers fussed over a realistic-looking doll, but not when the moms ignored them to read a book.

What’s true in barely-developed humans, they suspected, might also be true in highly social animals like dogs—so they replicated the human experiments with canines. They had 36 owners play affectionately with realistic-looking toy dogs while ignoring their own pets. They also had the owners play with Jack-o-Lantern shaped plastic pails, and, finally, had the owners ignore the dogs while reading books.

Sure enough, 78% of the dogs went into a sort of canine snit when their owners played with faux fido: they pushed and tried to squeeze in between owner and interloper, and in some cases even snapped at the phony dog. When the owners played with the pails, by contrast, jealous reactions were triggered in only 42% of the dogs (no word, by the way, on whether the animals thought their owners had lost their minds). And when the owners chose a book over their beloved pets, only 22% of the dogs got upset.

“It’s clearly not just the loss of attention that triggered aggressive behavior,” says Harris. “It’s that the owners were paying attention to another doglike object.”

The finding has impressed some of the most notable figures in the animal behavior field. “This is a landmark study,” wrote Marc Bekoff—professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the author of the new book Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed—in an e-mail to Time. “It’s not a matter of if emotions have evolved in animals, but why they evolved as they have.” That question will take a lot more study in multiple species—and Harris plans to do just that. “Horse owners claim their horses display jealousy,” she says, “and the question is open for cats as well.”

What’s more, jealousy is just the beginning of the possible range of emotions animals may experience. “This study reminded me of claims, absent data, that dogs cannot feel guilt or shame,” says Bekoff. “But there’s no reason why they cannot.”

Animal behavior’s official curse word, it turns out, may be on the way out. The more scientists look, the more “anthopomorphism” seems not to be a self-delusional fallacy, but a useful guide to understanding what’s really going on in your pet’s mind.

TIME animals

The Purrfect Supercut of Cats in Movies

Featuring furballs from Milo and Otis to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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The Argentine-based filmmakerAriel Belziti has graced the Internet with “Supercats!,” a supercut of cats in movies. The clip is filled with your favorite furry Hollywood felines, like “Cat” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the protagonist of That Darn Cat!, Buttercup from The Hunger Games and the poor star of the 1903 classic The Sick Kitten. There’s even a montage of cat-stroking villains and, yes, Garfield is in the mix. To top it all off, the video is soundtracked by The Cure’s “Love Cats”.

The uber-montage of cinematic cats — kittens, furballs and CGI creations — is the perfect clip to watch when you are stuck at work on a summer Wednesday or any other time you need some feline-based escapism.

(h/t io9)

MORE: The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

MORE: This Website Knows Where Your Cat Lives

TIME animals

Recycle Plastic Bottles in This Machine, and It Will Dispense Food for Stray Dogs

A recycling bin that's good for the earth and its four-legged inhabitants

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In Istanbul, Turkey, where an estimated 150,000 stray dogs and cats reportedly wander the streets, a Turkish company called Pugedon believes it has come up with a way to feed the animals: “Smart Recycling Boxes,” a machine that dispenses food and water in exchange for recycled plastic bottles, Big Think reports.

The benefits of the vending machine are supposed to be two fold: encourage recycling and feed the city’s strays. Recycling is put on top and food is dispensed out the bottom within easy reach for animals in need. There’s even a water dish attached so users can pour the remaining water from a plastic bottle before recycling it. The recycled bottles are supposed to cover the cost of the food.

The problem of managing stray dogs in international cities most recently came to light during the 2014 Winter Olympics, when stray dogs roamed the street’s of the Games’ host city, Sochi, Russia. When it was reported that some of the Sochi strays were going to be culled, animal rights activists sprung into action to rescue the homeless pups, and even some of the athletes brought them back to the United States.

MORE: 10 Stray Sochi Pups Arrive in U.S.

MORE: Mystery Photo Found In Stray Dog’s Collar Baffles County

TIME animals

This Website Knows Where Your Cat Lives

I Know Where Your Cat Lives
Getty Images

Purrfect for the Internet's cat lovers

Attention all 4.9 million users of the #Catstagram hashtag: You’re being watched. Same for the #RichCatsOfInstagram pictures and the 16 million photos tagged simply #Cats on Instagram.

Mashable points out that a new data visualization project called “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is trolling the internet and collecting metadata in your #adorable #cat #picture. Using the geotags embedded in the metadata in public photos, the project collects the information and puts the cat’s location on a map perfect for cyberstalking your fuzzy feline friend. Thank goodness cats don’t read Orwell.

The site features cats from everywhere around the globe — a giant red tom in Chiba, Japan to a grey fuzzball kitten in Apulia, Italy to a kitten cuddled with his mom in Queensland, Australia — all available for gawking at and cooing over at the click of a button.

The project was created by Florida State University art professor Owen Mundy, who views “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” as both a thought-provoking experiment into how we view online privacy, as well as a sort of Tinder for cat fans filled with a seemingly endless stream of kitten pics for the millions of cat fans who populate the Internet.

The site is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund web hosting and continuing the project.

MORE: The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

MORE: There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

TIME Internet

The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

166273382
Getty Images

A Kickstarter for this project has already raised more than $120,000

If you’re hoping to help your fat cat slim down, consider getting him this feline hamster wheel. It’s still in its funding stages, but a Kickstarter campaign has already vastly exceeded its goal of $10,000.

In just a few weeks, supporters of this exercise wheel — called One Fast Cat — have pledged well over $120,000. But why a hamster wheel?

“It’s good for cats to get some sort of workout and changing it up to keep them interested is important,” creator Sean Farley wrote on the Kickstarter page. “There are many ways to keep your cat lively, giving them access to energetic companions, making a play session part of their day, and/or offering them tempting exercise equipment for use when you’re not at home…that’s why we came up with “One Fast Cat” cat wheel.”

Okay then! Here’s a look at how the contraption works:

After giving this some thought, we’re not really surprised that the campaign surpassed its funding goal. It’s 2014. If there’s wine for cats, why can’t there be a hamster wheel for cats too?

TIME

There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

Bistro

FINALLY

For too long, humans have been reaping all the rewards of facial recognition software. But no longer. Entrepreneur Mu-Chi Sung is bringing the advanced technology to cats — and while it might not help them find love online due to “facial compatibility,” or be better targeted in malls, it will help them maintain their goal weight.

Sung is the co-founder of Bistro, a smart cat feeder that has the power to recognize your feline’s face in order to distribute and then track its food intake. It can also tell your cats’ faces apart to prevent jerky tendencies of stealing the food that is rightly their brethren’s.

But the endeavor, by Sung’s Taiwanese company 42ARK, isn’t for cat vanity’s sake.

“I have three cats, and how I fed them was I put the food in the bowl and had no idea what they’re eating,” says Sung, who didn’t realize his cat Momo stopped eating food due to illness until he found her dehydrated and paralyzed on the floor of his house. The jaundiced cat was suffering from pancreatitis, and while things were looking dire for Momo, the amputation of her two rear legs saved her life.

Momo the cat Bistro

While Sung assured us that Momo is now fine and back to playing with laser pointer, an early indication of eating abnormalities would have inspired him to seek medical help faster. This uses a similar ideology as Whistle, a Fitbit of sorts for dogs, that tracks their daily activity and sleep patterns.

“A cat doesn’t speak for themselves, that’s why we need Bistro to speak for them,” Sung says. “With Bistro you get notified [via the app] if a change in feeding occurs.”

A scale eating platform tracks cats’ weight and owners can also watch live streams of their cats eating. You know, if they’re into that kind of thing. “Not many people will do that,” Sung says, greatly underestimating obsessive cat owners everywhere.

Bistro

Bistro launched an Indiegogo campaign Tuesday to bring the product to market. Indiegogo users can buy it for a special price of $179, although Sung thinks it will cost $249 in stores.

This isn’t the first attempt to incorporate cat facial recognition in every day life. The image recognition company Quantum Picture found a way to use image recognition to let the company cat inside through the pet door only if she wasn’t carrying an animal in her mouth. And in 2010, Panasonic System Networks updated FaceU so it could recognize pets’ individual faces to tag in group photos.

Last year, a company called PiP launched an Indiegogo campaign to use facial recognition to reunite lost cats (and dogs) with their owners, although it only made $2,746 of its $20,000 goal. Bistro hopes to raise $100,000 to bring the product to market, and it raised almost half its goal in half a day.

Sung has worked in image recognition for years and thinks that applying it to cats is the next step in the technology. He says that 42ARK is even thinking of using facial recognition on cats’ litter box habits, although he admits that it’s “a little bit creepy.”

TIME animals

This Stray Cat Broke Into a Zoo and Became Best Friends With a Lynx

A very important new animal friendship

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A few months ago, we got really excited when an amicable meerkat befriended a husky, because unlikely animal friendships are what we live for. Today, we’d like to highlight a new animal friendship. It’s not quite as surprising as a husky and a meerkat, but we promise it’s just as adorable and heartwarming.

It all began when a homeless calico cat made her way into the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Zoo, according to KFOR. The stray found food in a lynx’s enclosure, and the lynx accepted the cat into her life. Soon enough, they became besties. Watch the video above to see this dynamic duo in action.

And here’s a gallery of adorable pictures:

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