Saturday, November 5, 2011

These Smart Cats Can Read and Identify Numbers

Alphonse enjoys reading my book. 
Maybe the sweet cat snoozing on the sofa next to you knows more than you think.

That time you saw your kitty stretching out on top of the newspaper--are you sure he wasn't reading about current events? And couldn't you have sworn that day when you stepped away from your computer for a few minutes and came back, your cat was working on a spreadsheet? After you meet Sullivan and Sarah, two 15-year-old sibling cats, you might have second thoughts.

The former feral cats can read, understand numbers and distinguish shapes. In the videos, watch Sullivan, a Maine Coon mix, show off his smarts. His camera-shy sister prefers to keep out of the limelight.

As reported in the December 2011 issue of Cat Fancy Magazine, Sullivan and Sarah's owner, Joan Kosby of Greenwich, NY, trained the cats with repetition, praise and most importantly, nom-noms. One of Kosby's inspirations is animal cognitive expert Irene Pepperberg and her work with Alex, an African grey parrot, documented in the book Alex & Me.

Sullivan Reads His Name



Sullivan Identifies Shapes and Colors



Sullivan Finds Hidden Objects 



Sullivan Knows "Same" and "Different"



Sullivan Understands Money



Sullivan Knows Numbers

12 comments:

  1. Oooh I'm at work so can't really view the clips but will do the moment I get home - Charlie would love to see these too! Yay! Take care
    x

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  2. I know one thing, my crew is smart enough to train Scott and I within a couple of tries! Amazing.

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  3. Oh Sullivan is amazing!!!!!! Awwwww!! Wow!! Love the tilting of his head best though - so so so so cute!! Yay!!!

    Take care
    x

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  4. this is pretty darned amazing! At first I was hugely skeptical...I am still thinking there is a catch but it is sure entertaining to watch!

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  5. !Rats, I have to run but I want to come back and see ALL these clips! it doesn't surprise me that an orange cat would be so smart.

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  6. He's sure got her trained!! Was trying to catch her out, but really couldn't see anything. Amazing!

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  7. Hey, I believe it, we can even tell time!

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  8. WOW. That is cool ... and amazing! Go Sullivan!

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  9. CATS ARE SO SMART. Sullivan's pretty cool

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  10. Oh my gosh, how amazing!! Well, I know kitties are smart :-) But Sullivan, he is so cool!

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  11. I can read and type and turn on the computer. I wish I could figure out how to open the cans......

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  12. The cat is smart, but not in the way the owner thinks. In the shapes/colors video, the owner holds the correct object slightly closer to the cat. I think the cat has learned to read the owner's body language to see which object the owner wants selected, not to identify words with corresponding shapes and colors.(this is a classic problem in animal intelligence testing, with famous examples of horses that could "count" by pawing the ground until their audience's reaction went from anticipation/stress to approval) A better test would be to place several object on the floor, don't move any of them, and then have a computer generated voice ask the cat to select different objects in a random order without the owner present. Cat's are very intelligent, so much so that they know how to cheat on standardized tests!

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