Rest Assured: Your Cat Really Does Like You

iStock
iStock

Cat owners are an insecure bunch. We are always looking to scientists to prove whether or not our feline friends truly love us, since they are not as endlessly affectionate as dogs. The data doesn’t always bear out—studies have found that your cat might not be purring out of love but rather manipulating you for food, and that cats who allow themselves to be petted show higher stress hormone levels after.

A new study in Behavioural Processes, though, is one that cat owners should find reassuring. Sometimes, our cats like us even more than food. In tests with both shelter animals and pets, cats expressed a preference for human interaction over preferences for food or toys, as Motherboard reports.

Like many pet studies, this one is small: the Oregon State University–led study used 19 pet cats and 20 shelter cats. (The researchers intended to study 25 of each, but some cats were too nervous or uninterested to complete the tests.) Each of the cats was placed in a room either in its home or at the shelter, where it was given opportunities to play alone with different toys, eat different meats, smell different natural scents (like gerbil or catnip) on a cloth, or hang out with a human for short periods of time.

During the human interaction test, the people alternately played with the cat, pet it, or talked to it for several minutes at a time. The stimuli (including, in the human condition, the person interacting with the cat) moved around the room to make sure the cat was actually drawn to it, and the cats were tested in each category with 12 different stimuli total.

At the end, the researchers figured out what the cats had spent the most time doing—playing with a certain toy, eating, smelling the cloth, or interacting with the person—and set up a trial where the cat could pick from all of them.

Overall, the study found that cats preferred hanging out with humans (either their owners or people at a shelter) more than even food (though food came in second). Half of the cats chose to interact with the person in the room instead of the food or toys it had shown a preference for.

This suggests that cats do occasionally see us as more than just a meal ticket … though they also want that out of you, too.

[h/t People]

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.