Quantity discrimination in felines: a preliminary investigation of the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus)

Abstract

A large body of studies has investigated the capacity of non-human primates, dogs, birds and lower vertebrates to estimate different quantities of objects or events. Little attention, however, has been devoted to felines, and no study has specifically concentrated on cats’ numerical cognition. The present study aims to investigate the capacity of domestic cats to distinguish between two and three dots in order to obtain food; results showed that cats can be trained to discriminate between the two quantities. Furthermore our research suggests that cats do not spontaneously use numerical information, but rather seem to make use of visual cues that co-vary with numerosity in order to solve the task.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees for their comments and useful suggestions. The reported experiments comply with all laws of the country (Italy) in which they were performed.

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Correspondence to Christian Agrillo.

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Pisa, P.E., Agrillo, C. Quantity discrimination in felines: a preliminary investigation of the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus). J Ethol 27, 289–293 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-008-0121-0

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Keywords

  • Cat
  • Numerical competence
  • Quantity discrimination
  • Counting
  • Animal cognition