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cat/​earwax directory


“Cat Psychology & Domestication: Are We Good Owners?”, Branwen 2018

Cat-Sense: “Cat Psychology & Domestication: Are We Good Owners?”⁠, Gwern Branwen (2018-11-03; ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Extended book review of Bradshaw 2013 (Cat Sense) on the connections between cat psychology, evolution/​genetics, history of domestication or lack thereof, & possible dysgenics, highlighting modern maladaptivity of cat psychology, with fulltext bibliography of key references.

I review John Bradshaw’s book on domestic cat psychology, Cat Sense, after difficulties dealing with my own cat. Bradshaw reviews the history of domestic cats from their apparent Middle Eastern origins as a small solitary desert predator to their domestication in Ancient Egypt where breeding millions of cats for sacrifice may have played a critical role (as opposed to any unique role as a vermin exterminator) through to the modern day and psychological studies of the learning abilities and personalities of cats, with particular emphasis on cat social skills in “cat colonies” & plasticity in kittenhood. As Bradshaw diagnoses it, these are responsible for what ability they have to modern pet life, even though they are not bred for this like dogs; every tame cat still has the feral cat in them, and are in many ways unsuited for contemporary living, with disturbing hints that human lack of selective breeding plus recent large-scale spay/​neuter population control efforts may be producing a subtle dysgenic effect on domestication, and this double neglect & backfire may be responsible for disturbingly high rates of cat maladaptation & chronic stress diseases.

“Trans-Species Interfaces: A Manifesto for Symbiogenisis”, Rinaldo 2016

2016-rinaldo.pdf: “Trans-Species Interfaces: A Manifesto for Symbiogenisis”⁠, Ken Rinaldo (2016-05-05; backlinks)

“Catnip Immunity and Alternatives”, Branwen 2015

Catnip: “Catnip immunity and alternatives”⁠, Gwern Branwen (2015-11-07; ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Estimation of catnip immunity rates by country with meta-analysis and surveys, and discussion of catnip alternatives.

Not all cats respond to the catnip stimulant; the rate of responders is generally estimated at ~70% of cats. A meta-analysis of catnip response experiments since the 1940s indicates the true value is ~62%. The low quality of studies and the reporting of their data makes examination of possible moderators like age, sex, and country difficult. Catnip responses have been recorded for a number of species both inside and outside the Felidae family; of them, there is evidence for a catnip response in the Felidae, and, more uncertainly, the Paradoxurinae, and Herpestinae.

To extend the analysis, I run large-scale online surveys measuring catnip response rates globally in domestic cats, finding high heterogeneity but considerable rates of catnip immunity worldwide.

As a piece of practical advice for cat-hallucinogen sommeliers, I treat catnip response & finding catnip substitutes as a decision problem, modeling it as a Markov decision process where one wishes to find a working psychoactive at minimum cost. Bol et al 2017 measured multiple psychoactives simultaneously in a large sample of cats, permitting prediction of responses conditional on not responding to others. (The solution to the specific problem is to test in the sequence catnip → honeysuckle → silvervine → Valerian⁠.)

For discussion of cat psychology in general, see my Cat Sense review.

“Chapter 25: Animal Models for Human PFC-related Disorders”, Kolb 1991-page-4

1991-kolb.pdf#page=4: “Chapter 25: Animal models for human PFC-related disorders”⁠, Bryan Kolb (1991-01-01; backlinks)