Body Camera Study Reveals What Cats Do When Nobody's Looking

iStock/konradlew
iStock/konradlew

Cat owners have a lot of questions about their feline companions, such as why do cats like boxes?, why are they afraid of cucumbers?, and do they understand their own names? While some of these questions have been answered by science, the matter of what cats do when their owners aren't around has remained murky. To get to the bottom of the mystery, a pair of scientists in the UK strapped video cameras to 16 cats and monitored their behavior.

Their study, co-authored by behavioral ecologist Maren Huck and animal behaviorist Samantha Watson and published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, was meant to be an assessment of the portable video technology. As Huck told Science in an interview, the experiment also revealed some surprising data regarding cat behaviors. One big takeaway was that cats may not be as relaxed and lazy as they're often stereotyped to be. When the cats in the study were allowed to wander freely outdoors, they were highly alert and engaged with their environment.

The study also presents evidence against the idea that cats don't care about their owners. The videos showed that the cats, when home, tended to follow their humans around and liked to be in the same room as them. You can see the behaviors that were recorded in the video below.

Though similar experiments have been conducted on different animals in the past, there haven't been many studies that use body cameras to observe a range of cat behaviors. This may have something to do with the nature of the subjects. When the researchers attached cameras to 21 cats, five of them either tried to shake or scratch them off. One cat began swatting her son when she saw the camera on him. For now, the secret lives of these more finicky felines remain a mystery.

[h/t Science]

A Same-Sex Penguin Couple Has Adopted an Egg at a Berlin Zoo

LisaStratchan/iStock via Getty Images
LisaStratchan/iStock via Getty Images

At first glance, king penguins Skip and Ping don’t appear to be too remarkable a sight when viewed by spectators at their enclosure at Germany's Zoo Berlin. But look closer and you may see one of them nurturing an egg under one of their skin folds. Skip and Ping, a same-sex penguin couple, have effectively adopted an egg and hope to raise it as their own baby.

A story by writer Liam Stack in The New York Times details their pursuit of parenthood. According to Stack, the penguins arrived at Zoo Berlin in April and were observed to have a degree of baby fever, trying to coddle everything from a rock to a fish. Taking note of their coupling, zookeepers passed on an unhatched egg laid by a female at the zoo. They immediately took to it, taking protective measures and growing ornery when employees got too close. Ping has taken to sitting on the egg in the hopes it will hatch.

That’s not guaranteed. Zookeepers aren't certain whether the egg was fertilized. If it is, it’s likely to crack open in early September, giving Skip and Ping an opportunity to expand their family.

Earlier this year, a same-sex penguin pair named Sphen and Magic began rearing a chick in Australia’s Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. The doting parents sang to and fed their adoptive offspring.

[h/t The New York Times]

Airlines Are No Longer Allowed to Ban Service Dogs Based on Breed

chaivit/iStock via Getty Images
chaivit/iStock via Getty Images

As the species of service and emotional support animals have become more diverse, airlines have had to make some tough decisions. Birds, monkeys, and snakes have been barred from boarding airplanes with passengers, but even more conventional pets like dogs have been rejected based on their breed. A new rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to change that. As Travel + Leisure reports, the agency now forbids airlines from discriminating against service dogs of particular breeds, including pit bulls.

Last year, Delta banned all pit bulls from flying, regardless of whether or not they were certified therapy animals. United Airlines also banned pit bulls last year, along with 20 other dog breeds, including pugs, bulldogs, mastiffs, and shih tzus.

Under the new DOT guidelines, these policies are no longer legal. The statement reads: "The Department’s Enforcement Office views a limitation based exclusively on breed of the service animal to not be allowed under its service animal regulation. The Enforcement Office intends to use available resources to ensure that dogs as a species are accepted for transport."

The new rule applies specifically to service animals, or animals that have been trained to perform a job that's essential to their owner's wellbeing. Emotional support animals, which don't require special training and aren't covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act, don't qualify.

Even if a pet is a certified service animal, airlines still have the right to reject them in certain cases. Air travel companies can request documents related to an animal's vaccination, training, or behavior history. If they find anything in the papers that indicates they're not safe to fly, airlines can turn them away on that basis.

In the same statement, the Department of Transportation clarifies which species of service animals should be allowed on flights. Miniature horses are now included on the list of service animals airlines must allow to fly, while ferrets, rodents, snakes, reptiles, and spiders are the only species airlines can ban outright.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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