DEPAW UNIVERSITY –
Using advanced imaging techniques applied to billions of cat photos and videos on the internet, researchers at Depaw University this week made a surprising discovery: cats, on average, have read more books, understood them better, and in general are better read than 95% of their human owners.
Cats More Likely To Be Reading
The ground-breaking research, which analyzed over two billion cat and human videos and photos, found that not only are cats looking at books more often than their owners, they show a much greater comprehension of what they are looking at.
“The typical human photo will feature shelf upon shelf of books in the background, with the human staring squarely into the lens of the camera. However, when cats are found in photos with books, they are usually looking at them, and more often than you might expect, actually reading the pages,” said researcher Guy Mealansteen.
Often Reading Challenging Works
Since cats do not speak, at least words that can be understood by humans, we typically don’t think of them as having a facility for language. But the evidence is clear: when books are available, cats are reading all the time.
In one telling example, the human in a household was photographed 732 times without once looking in the direction of a book. However, a cat in the same household was seen looking at 7 different chapters of ‘Moby Dick’ over the course of 3 weeks. “We estimate that cat was reading at college level or better, and was selecting difficult material,” said Dr. Mealansteen. “Interestingly, we found no photographic evidence that the human could read at all.”
Human Brows Mostly Furrowed
Applying facial tracking software to the images, researchers also found that cats’ expressions when looking at the pages of a book showed greater comprehension.
“Across the board, when we compare cat photos and human photos where both species are reading a book, the cats are 79% more likely to have raised eyebrows or signs demonstrating comprehension, whereas humans are much more likely to have a furrowed brow – or other facial cues showing that they don’t understand what they are looking at,” said Dr. Mealansteen.
Some Good News
While researchers say more work need to be done in this field, it appears that cats, on average, are the more accomplished species when it comes to reading.
However, there was some good news for humans. “While cats are apparently much better readers,” Dr. Mealansteen said, “dogs were typically found chewing on books, a behavior that would indicate they can’t read at all. And seeing as how very few humans were observed eating printed material in the photos, this would indicate we are likely better readers than dogs.”
“Although, again, this is just a hypothesis,” the doctor said. “More research will need to be done.”
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