The ethologist from Budapest University Claudia Fugatzza has been researching the cognitive abilities of dogs for many years. She trained four-legged dogs on the principle of “do like me”. That is, she herself showed the dog actions that she had to repeat. After performing the command, the animal received delicious reinforcement. So Fugazza checked if the animals can imitate human actions that have never been performed before, writes Science Mag.
Later, Fugazza got acquainted with the Japanese trainer Fumi Hikagi. The girl is mainly engaged in dogs. However, she had a cat called Ebisu. She saw that the dogs received delicious treats for performing commands. Ebisu lived in the pet store of her mistress, where she conducted classes with dogs.
“She often sneaked into my training classes and knew that there were treats there,” said Hicago.
Fugazza came to Japan to see Ebisu’s skills. At first, the cat was frightened by strangers, so Claudia had to watch the tricks from the far corner of the room. The cat showed that she could copy the opening of the locker and the biting of the rubber thread behind her mistress. According to Hicagi, her cat already knew these tricks. Then she introduced a new action: twice she touched the box with her hand, gave the command “do like me”, and after a few seconds the cat repeated the action, for which she received a treat. In total, Hicago and Ebisu made 16 repetitions, in 81% of cases, the cat faithfully copied the hostess’ actions.
“People think that cats are asocial. However, this study confirms the idea that they follow people and learn from us,” said Christine Vitale, animal behavior specialist at Unity College in the United States.
Dolphins, parrots, monkeys and killer whales were found to be able to imitate people. Unfortunately, there will be no new experiments with Ebisu. This year, the cat died.