This is fascinating.
Two cats sit at a table in front of white dinner plates. One at a time, they ring a bell, and a human arrives to bring them treats.
Sound like the plot of a Ratatouille sequel? Think again. It’s actually the real-life result of a Pavlovian-style experiment, footage of which has been shared on Twitter and is quickly going viral.
We think Pavlov would be very proud.
After all, the scientist’s greatest legacy is his understanding of conditioning, where a dog was made to associate the sound of a bell with the presentation of food. Now, cats are getting in on the fun—and in this particular experiment, it almost looks like they’re the ones training the human. As the two cats—one with white fur and black markings, the other striped—paw at a bell on a table, they’re given treats.
The fact that hundreds of thousands of Twitter users have collectively flocked to the video makes sense. It’s a fascinating clip that does bear more resemblance to a cartoon than to real life.
Meanwhile, while it might seem like these felines are only using their experimenters to get access to some delicious treats, there’s actually some evidence to the contrary. In a study released last week, researchers from Oregon State University concluded that domestic cats would much prefer human social interaction to food or toys. Even catnip was decidedly less fun for these cats than simply being around humans.
“Although there was clear individual variability in cat preference, social interaction with humans was the most-preferred stimulus category for the majority of cats,” the study reads. “Followed by food.”