Caturday felid trifecta: BBC asks “How much do you know about cats?”; a Kavenaugh Kat LOL; cats prove lousy predators on NYC rats

Do you know from cats? Take the nine-question BBC cat quiz below and report your score (click on screenshot). Trust me—this is way better than their dumb evolution quiz.

I missed one: one of the questions about ancient Egypt:


 

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And a Kavenaugh Kat meme from reader Merilee (you knew this was coming, didn’t you?):

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Finally, the Atlantic reports on the perennial battle of feral cats versus urban rats. Sadly, the rats win, as the article (click on screenshot) indicates. Be sure to click on the link to “Pizza Rat“.

 

The article is about a study of marked rats in a Brooklyn recycling plant, with the scientists intent on studying rat pheromones. But they didn’t anticipate that cats would impinge on their study, so the cats became part of the study. The first link below goes to the scientific paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. An excerpt from the Atlantic piece:

For scientists who try to control every possible variable in their experiments, the cats could have been a disaster. There were five to seven felines, all feral. Parsons thinks they were drawn to the pheromones the research team was using in the recycling plant. He didn’t want to scrap the research project, so he and his team decided to roll with it: They would now study how cats affect rat populations.

The answer seems like it would be obvious. For as long as humans have lived with cats, we have been using them to keep rodents in check. In several cities inthe United States, municipal rodent-control and cat-rescue groups have put homeless cats to “work” by releasing them in rat-heavy neighborhoods. In Chicago, the program was so popular that there was a six-month waiting list to get a cat.

But the results from the Brooklyn recycling plant are far less flattering to cats: They are absolutely lousy rat-killers. Over a period of five months, the motion-triggered cameras captured just two successful kills. And this was in a place crawling with rats; the population was estimated at around 150. The cameras captured 20 other stalking attempts and one other failed attempt to kill a rat.

These results actually match what rat experts have been saying all along: Cats are not a good way of controlling city rats.

Here’s a video from the article showing a cat completely ignoring a passing rat. Oy!

h/t: Tom, Kevin, Merilee

31 Comments

  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Not surprised about that rat/cat thing. Really big rats are very mean and can bite like crazy. Years ago my grandfather had a female Rat Terror that was just a born killer. Did not matter the size, her instinct was to kill it. Mice, Rats, possums and ground squirrels, it did not matter. I have never seen that kind of behavior in any of our cats.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted September 29, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      There was a really bad movie about giant rats made sometime in the 1980s where the rats were portrayed by hordes of dachshunds wearing rat costumes. In the final scene, a newly built subway line has a bunch of city bigwigs riding on its inaugural run. The train pulls out with the dignitaries on board and pulls in to the next station with no people, just train cars full of well-fed dachsrats.

      I don’t recall the title, and a web search hasn’t found anything that matches, but a couple of cats meet a ratly demise as the plot (such as it is) unfolds.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted September 29, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Think I found it. It’s called “Deadly Eyes” (sometimes just “Rats”)
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadly_Eyes, a Canadian film. Looks like good fun. The trailers I found don’t show the “rats” clearly, but in one scene, what I can see of them while they’re moving, they do move more like Dachshunds.

        • Posted September 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          That kind of movie can be loads of fun. I am reminded of “Black Sheep” (2006) which I highly recommend: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Black_Sheep_(2006_New_Zealand_film)

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted September 29, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I love loopy horror films, and the real old classics. “Black Sheep” sounds completely insane — maniacal killer sheep! I read the plot, which makes no sense, but who cares, is that they didn’t have Gwyneth Paltrow come to the rescue with the amniotic fluid.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted September 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

              I meant to write – “the only fault I can find is that they didn’t have Gwenyth Paltrow come to the rescue with the amniotic fluid.

            • BJ
              Posted September 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

              Black Sheep somehow (don’t ask me how) is a legitimately good horror film! I went in expecting Night of the Lepus (a corny and terrible idea for a horror movie that should have been great fun, but instead is horribly boring because NOT ENOUGH KILLER RABBITS), but I got something genuinely well-crafted.

          • Diane G
            Posted September 30, 2018 at 1:06 am | Permalink

            Any movie with this in its decription–“Unknown to Henry, Angus is carrying out secret genetic experiments that transform sheep from docile vegetarians into ferocious carnivores whose bite can transform a human into a bloodthirsty demonic half-sheep monstrosity…”–has got to be excellent. 😀

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Got 9 for 9 on the test but only because I had the cat expert (my wife) to answer.

  3. E.A. Blair
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    A purrfect score! Give yourself a treat by listening to The Cat Who Came Back. Your score: 9/9

    I did have to guess on two questions: the one about the girls’ name in ancient Egypt and the last one about Morris running for office. I would not consider either of those questions as being about cats. The name question is about Egyptian history and culture and the Morris question is simple trivia.

    The rest of the quiz is easy for anyone who has read Paul Leyhausen’s book, Cat Behavior: The Predatory and Social Behavior of Domestic and Wild Cats. Even a used copy costs a small fortune to buy, but I consider it an essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in cats.

    • Diane G
      Posted September 30, 2018 at 1:11 am | Permalink

      “I did have to guess on two questions: the one about the girls’ name in ancient Egypt and the last one about Morris running for office.”

      Got 8/10 ’cause I whiffed on those. Even had the girl’s name right, at first, but second-guessed myself. Two stupid questions in an otherwise fun quiz. 😉

  4. Ray Little
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Cats vs rats: Beatrix Potter knew the answer to that question generations ago. That’s what t*rrier d*gs are for.

    • Diane G
      Posted September 30, 2018 at 1:13 am | Permalink

      Yeah, no surprise there. Used to spend time on the docks as my dad was a mariner…those wharf rats were something to behold!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 30, 2018 at 3:54 am | Permalink

      And the Dachshund (called “worshondjie”, “sausage-dog” here). Although they are called after their badger hunting, they are great rat-catchers. (I doubt they killed the badgers, probably more flushing them out of their burrows.)
      I’ve had only one cat, a smallish little tiger, that went for rats, but then she was a great hunter, mice,, shrews, birds, including pigeons and chickens, and once even came home with a rabbit about twice her size.

  5. Posted September 29, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    7/9. I will shave my eyebrows in mourning (I knew that one!).

  6. rickflick
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I will not mention my cat score.

    • Barbara Radcliffe
      Posted September 29, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      I got 9 out of 9, but a couple were lucky guesses!

  7. lkr
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Our Manxie Sierra can and does take on rats. She seems to have started when we had a neighborhood infestation two summers ago. [Coincident with one of the neighbors deciding it would be good for their children to keep some free range chickens).

    First rat I saw was a smallone that Sierra brought inside to her play area in the dining room. She must have gotten bite-back at some point since she stopped “playing”. Usually leaving the corpses outside in one of three prominent display areas. Biggest rat ever was 18 inches nose to tailtip, but a number were adult or subadult.

    That first summer she accounted for 13 rats of all sizes — that I found. Since then rat numbers are down, but she regularly kills one or two a month during the summer.

    Seems proud of herself. Occasionally, just occasionally she will eat the brain. That seems to be a sign that she wants more Fancy Fest in her diet..

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Well, some humans (not I) consider sheep, cow, and monkey brains delicacies (the latter preferably extracted from a live monkey), so why not some cats?

      I think that human consumption of sheep and cow brains must have contributed, at least to some small extent, to humans contracting certain sub-acute encephalopathies such as mad cow, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases.

    • Richard Bond
      Posted September 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      When my late wife and I moved into our first house, which had been vacant for a couple of years, it was obvious that rats had been plentiful there. We brought our two cats with us, and soon after became acquired by two more. We never afterwards saw any live rats. The cats simply killed them without any messing about,and all that we saw were corpses.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted September 29, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      My cat is also adept at killing rats and loves eating the head. He’s a big old tom, a rescue cat who probably spent a lot of time as a feral.

  8. tubby
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I thought the fact that cats aren’t so good with controlling rats was one of the reasons we developed/bred ratting dogs.

  9. revelator60
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps New York should introduce weasels to control the rats–I hear they’re without fear!

    • Diane G
      Posted September 30, 2018 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      Or Honey Badgers!

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted September 30, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        Honey badgers? Bad idea, they will kill your cats and dogs too! I mean, small and cute looking as they are, they take on leopards and lions! And cobras and puffadders. In fact, there is basically nothing they will not take on, real little badasses.

        • Diane G
          Posted September 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          Well, there goes that idea… 😉

      • Merilee
        Posted September 30, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        Honey badgers don’t give a shit…

  10. Merilee
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  11. eric
    Posted September 29, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    My albeit very limited understanding of cat domestication is that it was likely related to their effectiveness in killing field mice that got into granaries. Which is pretty far removed from rattus norvegicus (which, I was also interested to learn, don’t come from Norway).

  12. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted September 30, 2018 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    I missed the election cat (I know there is a cat somewhere that is a mayor, which put me on the wrong foot).
    And I thought that Miw was a trick-question, so I erroneously chose Pyrr.

  13. Posted October 27, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Good test! (Though my result was not impressive.)
    The rat affair reminded me of a dialog from Hugo’s Miserables:
    “What are these rats?”
    “Sort of mice.”
    “Oh good. Then, sir, why don’t you take a cat?”
    “I did, but they ate her.”
    “Who ate her?”
    “The rats.”
    “You mean the mice?”
    “Yes, the mice.”


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