Like Dogs, Some Cats Will Play Fetch—But Mostly on Their Own Terms

Image by wirestock on Freepik

While dogs have a monopoly on pet playtime, cats both love and need to play with their owners, too. Cats chasing after toys might not be as common, but new research suggests that some cats enjoy a round of fetch. The study, published in Scientific Reports, unveils insights into how cats engage in fetch-like play without prior training and how scientists delved into this surprising feline behavior.

Understanding Feline Fetch

To investigate this phenomenon, researchers conducted an extensive online survey involving 924 cat owners globally, gathering insights from 1,154 cats with a history of fetch play. The findings revealed that an overwhelming 94 percent of fetching cats learned the behavior spontaneously, typically commencing their fetching antics before their first birthday, with Siamese cats leading among purebreds in this activity.

The study’s revelations reflect cats’ spontaneous inclination to fetch objects, a behavior often initiated and controlled by the felines themselves. Researchers are uncertain why some cats exhibit this behavior, whether it’s a social bonding activity or driven by other factors, and aim to explore these nuances further in future studies.

Cats Calling the Shots

A fascinating aspect of the study was cats initiating fetch sessions on their terms. Nearly half of the owners reported their cats taking the lead in initiating the play, while others prompted the game. Jemma Forman, co-author and animal cognition researcher at the University of Sussex, suggests that cats’ enjoyment peaks when they control the fetching sessions.

Shutterstock // Life is a Dream

While the research provides a glimpse into this behavior, it doesn’t encompass all cats, focusing solely on those with a fetching history. The study suggests that owners can potentially train their cats to play fetch by reinforcing the behavior, yet it’s crucial to recognize that not all cats will engage in this activity. So the next time you try to play catch with your cat, they might just do it, if their mood says so!

Scientists Unearths a New Armored Dinosaur Species on Britain’s Isle of Wight

The Tanky Dinosaur Is Named After a Prominent Paleontology Professor.

Scientists have recently discovered a new species of armored dinosaur on the Isle of Wight, marking the first description of an armored dinosaur on the island in over 140 years. Named Vectipelta barretti after Professor Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum, this tank-like dinosaur was found in the Wessex Formation, known for its rich fossil beds.

Importance of the Discovery

The discovery is significant for understanding ankylosaur diversity in the Wessex Formation and Early Cretaceous England. The Wessex Formation consists of alternating layers of clay and sand, deposited between 140 and 125 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period. Previously, all ankylosaur remains from the Isle of Wight were attributed to Polacanthus foxii, a well-known dinosaur from the island. Vectipelta barretti differs from Polacanthus foxii in various features, such as neck and back vertebrae, pelvic structure, and the shape of its armor. Through phylogenetic analysis, scientists have determined that Vectipelta barretti is more closely related to some Chinese ankylosaurs, indicating potential dinosaur migrations from Asia to Europe during the Early Cretaceous period.

Insights Into the Past

Insights Into the Past

During Vectipelta barretti’s time, Great Britain’s Isle of Wight was connected to the mainland and experienced a climate resembling the Mediterranean of today. The region featured fertile floodplains with meandering rivers. Floods would carry organic materials, including plants, logs, and even dinosaurs, creating isolated ponds on the floodplains. Over time, these materials became buried in sediment and clay, preserving them as fossils.

Recognition and Future Discoveries

The new dinosaur species was named in honor of Professor Paul Barrett for his significant contributions to the field of paleontology. The scientists involved in the study anticipate further discoveries on the Isle of Wight, including new species of dinosaurs. Ongoing efforts to recover fossils continue to provide valuable insights into the region’s prehistoric past. Vectipelta barretti is now on display at the Dinosaur Isle Museum on the Isle of Wight.