CZAAWE Resource Article

Flexible search behavior in domestic cats (Felis catus): A case study of predator-prey interaction
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Comparative Psychology
Domestic cats (Felis catus) were administered an object permanence task in a novel and a familiar situation to investigate flexibility (i.e., pause behavior and searching by following a path opposite of that taken by the object when it disappeared) in search behavior. Pause and opposite search were assumed to be independent, equipmbable, and randomly exhibited (i.e., random model). The random model predicted that cats would exhibit flexible behavior on 75% of the trials. The results revealed that flexible behavior occurred on 69% of the trials in the novel situation, but only on 52% of the trials in the familiar setting in which pauses were less frequent and shorter than in the novel situation. Thus, the random model provided a good fit of the data in the novel but not in the familiar situation. It is argued that pause and opposite search reflect decision processes when cats are dealing with the behavior of prey that has disappeared while being pursued.