Genetically Modified

They say they’ve genetically modified mice to make them unafraid of cats. I’m more concerned by the apparently-genetically-modified cat they’ve got in the vid-clip, who is even less effective at dealing with a mouse than Andromache.

(She can do the stalking, the patiently-lying-in-wait, and even the pouncing. After that, however, she isn’t at all sure what to do next, and when the mouse realises that the death blow isn’t really forthcoming, it’s able to scuttle away to safety. It’s very funny to watch. She’s better with wasps and spiders.)

8 thoughts on “Genetically Modified”

  1. Book I read claims the whole hunting sequence is fixed in their brains and when the prey stops moving the whole business crashes and requires a Ctrl-Alt-Del. Hence cats’ tendency to play with their food – the prey moving starts it all off again.

    I don’t know how true that is, though. I have the entirely scientific objection that it sounds kind of silly.

    I guess the actual killing part is something they have to be a) taught and b) hungry enough to bother with, which most kittens aren’t these days. Most of the animals my parents’ cats get hold of seem to die of shock or human assistance.

  2. Enkidu has been *very* fierce with a pair of socks this morning, making me doubt the Ctrl-Alt-Del theory.

    (He does catch mice, and presumably he had the same training as Andromache from their, and Andromache is the one who goes around claiming to be hungry the whole time — so I’m not sure about your (a) and (b) either, though they don’t look silly, on the face of it, at all.)

  3. Saw a very odd thing today – our cat pouncing on its own tail. She obviously wanted to clean it but wouldn’t wave it, or keep it, close enough to her tongue – so instead she pounced on it, keeping in between her paws while she licked. However, it escaped, and she had to try again several times….

  4. Probably.

    When I noticed her interest in wasps, I assumed her method was to swat the wasp with her paw, which seemed to me to be a sensible way of going after them. But then when I watched more closely, it turned out she was trying to grab them in her mouth, which seems very silly. Since then I’ve intervened to chase wasps away whenever I’ve seen her getting interested.

  5. It’s unfortunate that the only way of getting her to understand why it’s silly to try and eat living wasps is by allowing her to eat a living wasp. Otherwise, you could allow her to perfect a wasp-eating technique, which’d be quite cool.

  6. It’s probably the same technique that she uses on flies — and she really is quite good with flies. I sometimes say, “Don’t be silly, Andromache, the fly can stay at ceiling level, you aren’t going to get it”, and then ten minutes later I see that she’s busy playing with a dead fly.

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