This photograph shows how we under-use the brains of intelligent animals
August 24, 2008 9:05 PM   Subscribe

So... I was doing some light reading on feline behavior tonight (yes, I'm a cat nerd)... Scroll to page 34. Look at the cute photo of a cat on a file cabinet. Read the caption underneath the photo.

Um, what? I... is it a weird joke? Is this something I'd need to be a cat behaviorist to understand? Is it a copypasta remnant? I'm going to be reading and rereading this PDF all night trying to figure out how cat intelligence and perching choice intersect and how the blank stare of a cat shows it.
posted by grippycat to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm thinking a joke (using the word *very* loosely) involving a cat in close proximity to files/charts...
posted by cosmonaught at 9:09 PM on August 24, 2008

For those that don't want to access the PDF despite the promise of a cute photo, the caption underneath said cute photo reads:

Although Sally, a clinic cat, has 2 cat trees, she chooses the highest perch of all to oversee what's going on. This photograph shows how we under-use the brains of intelligent animals.

And the kitty is pretty much just perched on a filing cabinet, looking below. The only thing I can think of is that they meant "underestimate." It'd make some sense in that context, but not really.

Or yeah, it could be something about humans not relying on animals' brains as much as we could (insofar as doing things like... accessing files... I guess...?)

Maybe the cat in the picture snuck in and changed the caption to that, I dunno. Sneaky kitties.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:18 PM on August 24, 2008

Yeah, it's just a crap joke.
posted by pompomtom at 9:21 PM on August 24, 2008

Best answer: I'm in ur filez usin my brainz.
posted by spilon at 9:41 PM on August 24, 2008 [11 favorites]

I think the author was simply implying that if the cat wants to perch herself on top of the filing cabinet...well, there's always filing to do! (Hence, under-utilizing the potential free labor...which is funny because you can't get a cat to do anything you want, even if the files are made of mice and tuna.)
posted by iamkimiam at 9:56 PM on August 24, 2008

Best answer: Although the clinic provides particular "environment enrichment" equipment for the cat (outlined on page 22), the cat is being a cat and choosing its own optimal "vertical spaces." In that regard, I have to go along with TheSecretDecoderRing's "under-use" as "underestimate."

TALL cat is TALL.
posted by bonobo at 10:27 PM on August 24, 2008

I suspect the caption is meant to imply that the people should have paid attention and realized the cat would prefer the height of the file cabinet rather than the smaller cat-trees.

...I love cats.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:46 PM on August 24, 2008

i think its also about how we don't use cats' brains to accomplish filing or something. it is very odd...
posted by punkbitch at 11:10 PM on August 24, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks. I knew it was in there somewhere - now I can sleep!
posted by grippycat at 11:11 PM on August 24, 2008

I'm wondering if this also has something to do with the cat wanting to be 'top cat'.

I'll explain: I used to have three cats, two boys and a girl. If the boys were sitting on the floor, the girl cat was happy to be on a chair or sofa. If one or both boy cats got on a chair or sofa, she'd have to get on the arm of the sofa, to be above them. If a boy cat was on the arm of the sofa, she'd get on the back of the sofa. If she found one of the boys on the back of the sofa, she'd get on top of a cabinet. She always had to be physically higher than them, for reasons best known only to her little cat brain.
posted by essexjan at 11:27 PM on August 24, 2008

"which is funny because you can't get a cat to do anything you want"

Well iamkimian, they can in Sweden. A couple of years ago I went to a small country travelling circus. Among the acts was a troop of performing cats. True!. They jumped through rings of fire, walked tightropes - the lot.
Never seen anything like it.
posted by jan murray at 5:36 AM on August 25, 2008

I don't know which of the above jokey responses are serious, so I'll add my own.

My take on the caption is (1) yes, we should read "underuse" as "underestimate"; and (2) the author is saying that the fact that the cat chooses the highest possible perch means that the cat is observing what's going on around it, which indicates that the cat seeks to gather more information and is apparently using that information in some way. In other words, the cat is applying intelligence.

OTOH, I believe cats seek high perches, instinctively and without thought, (1) to avoid disturbances and predators; and (2) because it's cool.

I love cats too.
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2008

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